It’s a Spring Awakening for UCLA Football, as Freshman Pocket Rocket Brett Hundley shows a Spring in his explosively-nimble step

Some guys just have a knack for finding the hole.  And no, I’m not talking about the rooftop-sex trojan.  I’m talking about Brett Hundley, a Freshman who is trying to become UCLA’s new Starting Quarterback.  Today was Day 2 of UCLA Football’s 2011 Spring Practice, and the buzz in the crowd was not due to all the new Assistant Coaches — It was all due to Hundley, the highly-coveted new recruit, a QB who is known for his legs as well as his arm.

But before I begin the analysis, I am obligated to feed you the annual Practice Disclaimer:  Only an idiot would make sweeping statements and reach conclusions based on one session of Spring Practice.  For crying out loud, the players aren’t even wearing pads yet.  They are wearing SHORTS, and not tackling.  So please take all the following observations with a Kirstie Alley-sized grain of salt.

Now that THAT is out of the way, there is plenty to be excited about if you are a long-suffering Bruin Football fan, and it all starts with Hundley.  The most impressive aspect of his game today was the way he just naturally slid to the open area, away from the “rush,” and into safe zones where he had time to survey the field.  Keep in mind that no one was actually trying to tackle him, but he still looked really smooth in his ability to avoid the usual congestion.

He also looked very much at ease throwing on the move.  You can sort of see his superior fluidity (compared to his competitors for the job), even in the STILLS posted with this article.  Of course, Hundley is a brand new Freshman, and some people think that NO first-year player can ever be capable of leading a big-time school to success.  In fact, none have ever won the Pac-10 Title.  And Hundley’s lack of experience was certainly on display.  He fumbled at least twice, one time trying to fake a hand-off, but getting the ball knocked out by the runner’s hip, and another time trying to pull back a pass (The Tuck Rule).  Also, his passes were a little erratic.  He hit some excellent out-routes, and his short passes appeared crisper than the soft lobs that we’ve been seeing in the past few years.  But his accuracy on deeper passes did not overwhelm anyone.  It appeared like he missed more than he completed, HOWEVER, it’s a little early to expect that he and his Receivers be on the same page, or have their timing down yet.  The more-experienced QB’s didn’t fare much better in that area.

To repeat:  It’s WAY too early to come to any conclusions about anyone, especially about someone who is just getting his feet yet, even if his form looks promising.  Case in point:  Ben Olson looked like a QB Instructional DVD model — flawless in execution… until he played his second game against real, live action.

And I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, from my excitement about Hundley’s potential.  Richard Brehaut looked more comfortable and stronger than last year, and Kevin Prince is already moving, and throwing on the run (in drills, only).  I am not advocating Hundley as the Starter at this point.  In fact, the first thing Coach Rick Neuheisel said about Hundley after the Practice was that Brett is battling a huge learning curve.  That means that the Freshman has not yet mastered all the nuances of the game, and is not already making the right decisions.  If Prince or Brehaut ends up getting the nod, they will get my support.  If they can’t get the job done, I’ll decide at THAT point if I’d prefer a change to be made.

The FUNNIEST line of the day was the RESPONSE when Alumni Cheerleader Geof Strand asked a high-ranking UCLA Athletic Department member:  “What could be better than this?  Beautiful day, UCLA Football, and you’re talking to me!” …to which the guy replied:  “Have you seen the Internet?!?”  Apparently, the UCLA powers-that-be are acutely aware of the rampant DISSATISFACTION that abounds online from Bruin fans, and they feel the pressure.

The second-funniest line was delivered by Wide Receiver Ricky Marvray, who was overthrown while streaking wide open to the end zone.  He said to the crowd:  “I need to be faster.”

The session was not devoid of big plays, though.  Tight End Joseph Fauria caught a de facto Touchdown pass, Josh Smith caught a bomb against tight coverage, and Ricky Marvray caught a pass in traffic.  Cory Harkey and Taylor Embree made good catches too.  I did see Morrell Presley drop a pass that hit him right on his number, but he may still be adjusting to his added bulk, as he may have the most-improved physique on the team.

As for the Running game, it’s hard to make any judgments, because of the no-tackling rule, but a lot of runners were finding holes for big gains, and Jordan James looked especially nimble in squirting through those gaps.

The defensive coverage looked good, with Courtney Viney sticking to his guy, Alex Mascarenas making a great play to break up a pass at the last second, and someone else making a nifty Interception of a short pass over the middle.  It’s not fair to judge the D-Line, because their hands are tied, and the QB’s are so over-protected (by design).  Let’s wait for the pads to be strapped on before we go THERE.

As for Special Teams, all I saw was Josh Smith making Fair Catches, so nothing to report on that front.  Again, you’ll have to wait for any significant info.

The only real difference from last year that I noticed was that all the Quarterbacks were really BARKING their signals loudly, and demonstratively moving their hands and arms together in conjunction with their barking.  I’m not sure what that change is for, but it definitely caused at least three False Starts today.  

For the THIRD TIME:  This whole report is really arbitrary, based on the small segment of plays that I actually saw with my own eyes, while missing plenty of others.  There is a lot going on simultaneously, so it’s impossible to see everything, not to mention that TWO HOURS of practice is such a measly sample size, my comments are practically meaningless.  SO… here are 30 photos from today, where you can just enjoy the visuals, feel the excitement, and not draw any conclusions that shouldn’t be drawn.


Bonus shot for Aramide Olaniyan
A – O… AAAAAA-O — Daylight comes and I plug up the hole


2 responses to “A THRILLA THE HUN(DLEY)”

  1. Bobdobalina Avatar

    One pic is actually Shaquelle Evans and Jerry Johnson

    [T-H’s Note: Thank you VERY much. I’ve already fixed the caption, thanks to you. I should have realized that two Wide Receivers would be together, but I saw an injured #19 so I immediately thought of Hilliard.]

  2. UCLADal Avatar

    Great title T-H! Keep ’em coming!