The UCLA Bruins found the quarterback they have been looking for last season when Brett Hundley enjoyed a breakout freshman season. He took the Bruins all the way back to the Pac 12 Championship and has them poised to make another run in 2013. As any young quarterback, however, Hundley still has plenty of growing to do in his game if UCLA hopes to stay on top in the Pac 12 South, starting with staying on his feet more often.
Last season, Hundley was sacked 52 times, second-most in all of college football. Part of that was Hundley relying on his athleticism too often rather than throwing the ball away when he should have. The other part was an offensive line that struggled against defensive pressure, particularly as the season wore on. The team has addressed the latter issue through recruiting, adding significant depth and talent to the line to keep Hundley protected in 2013.
The rest will be up to Hundley, however. He proved he is a gifted athlete and be a legitimate dual-threat quarterback when he pulls the ball down to run. However, he would often miss opportunities to throw the ball away when under pressure, trying to create big plays with his legs every single time, but often only succeeded in taking punishment and creating negative plays for the offense in the process.
That punishment took its toll on the young signal caller. Quarterbacks coach Taylor Mazzone admitted that Hundley began playing timidly as the season wore on, worrying about where hits would be coming from and getting happy feet in the pocket. He gave up on his progressions too quickly when that happened and missed out on potential positive plays as he preemptively felt the pressure coming.
In 2013, Hundley must play smarter. He must work on recognizing when there is an opening to make a play with his legs and when he needs to just unload the football into the sidelines and live to play another down. If he can refine his raw athletic ability into intelligent quarterback play, there is no limit to what the UCLA offense could do next fall.