UCLA vs. Utah: Can Brett Hundley Continue to Impress in Pac-12 Opener?

Josh AronsonCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2013

tSep 14, 2013; Lincoln, NE, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) passes against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins open up conference play Thursday night on the road against the Utah Utes. The Bruins are currently 3-0 in large part due to the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley.

So far in 2013, Hundley has thrown for 848 yards including eight touchdowns and only three interceptions. The Bruins expect big-time plays from him week after week and will need it as they start conference play. 

Hundley has been extremely consistent so far for the Bruins. In their first three games, he has completed 66.7 percent, 66.7 percent, and 65.7 percent of his passes respectively. Hundley has also proven to be a duel-threat QB rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns. 

This week against the Utes, the UCLA offense will look to take advantage of Utah’s 111th ranked pass defense. Redshirt senior WR Shaquelle Evans leads the team with 13 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Evans has become one of Hundley’s favorite wide outs along with sophomore Devin Fuller.

UCLA has utilized the read-option very well this year under head coach Jim Mora. However, last week Utah was able to keep BYU out of the end zone despite giving up 183 yards on the ground. Hundley will have to prove that he can capitalize in the red zone and put points up on the board for the Bruins.

PASADENA, CA - AUGUST 31:  Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins hands off to Anthony Jefferson during the third quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Rose Bowl on August 31, 2013 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Hundley at times has looked like the best quarterback in the Pac 12. But the real test for him and the Bruins will come later this month when they face both Stanford and Oregon on the road in back-to-back weeks.

The Bruins offense will need to be hitting on all cylinders if they want to be one of the elite teams in the conference.

If UCLA can upset either Stanford or Oregon, Hundley will immediately be considered as a serious Heisman candidate and will see his draft stock skyrocket. But, UCLA cannot overlook Utah, especially on the road.

The Utes are coming off of an impressive win against BYU, 20-13, and a heartbreaking loss to Oregon State, 51-48.

Look for Hundley to make big plays with his arm and his legs, throwing for 250 yards and rushing for another 50, as UCLA wins a close game against the Utes and improves to 4-0.