QB Hundley matures after spring as UCLA's starter
PASADENA, Calif. -- Life has changed for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley.
The redshirt sophomore has gone from the savior expected to revive a floundering program to the starter who took the Bruins to a 9-5 record, the Pac-12 South Division title and a win over crosstown rival USC.
The mob of fans seeking autographs and photos at the end of the 68-play scrimmage Saturday at the Rose Bowl to conclude spring practice reflected as much.
Now, as second-year coach Jim Mora said, the challenge for Hundley and the entire UCLA team is to meet the rising expectations that are coming.
"I think it adds pressure to you and I think Brett can handle it," Mora said after waiting out a postgame fireworks display.
"People pat them on the back and say `Great year, great year,' and there is not one of them that thinks nine wins was a great year. None of them are satisfied, and I like that, and that's what we want."
Hundley certainly looked the part, completing 16 of 23 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
"I feel so much better and so much more developed along with this team, this offense, every aspect of this team," Hundley said. "I feel like we are much further than we were last spring."
The biggest progression for Hundley might come as a runner. Johnathan Franklin, who ran for 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, and none of the players challenging to replace the school's career rushing leader made much of an impression.
Redshirt junior Jordon James rushed for 20 yards on five carries, scoring from 6 and 2 yards. Redshirt freshman Paul Perkins caught a 25-yard touchdown from Hundley, while Damien Thigpen and Steven Manfro did not participate because of injuries.
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said he expected more of a committee approach, playing off Franklin's nickname, "The Mayor."
"We'll have a House of Representatives now in our backfield, four seats in the House," Mazzone said.
That could mean an even greater role for Hundley carrying the ball after rushing for 702 yards and nine touchdowns last season, both second only to Franklin.
"He can run," added Perkins, who played with Hundley in high school. "He hasn't shown you guys, but that boy, he can run. He's a lot faster than what you guys think he is."
In the scrimmage, Hundley accounted for 14 yards on seven attempts, ruled down anytime a defender touched him. But Hundley said he is a better athlete than he was a year ago, cutting his body fat down to 8 percent, and he knows when to scramble.
"It is the difference between knowing when to run and when to sit in the pocket and wait for another receiver or when to just throw the ball away," Hundley said. "Now I am starting to mature as a quarterback and get those things. Now that is coming along, I am able to use my legs more."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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