It wasn't always pretty, but the UCLA Bruins are still undefeated and Brett Hundley is still a future NFL first-round pick.
Sometimes you can tell the most about a player in less-than-ideal circumstances, and that's exactly what the redshirt sophomore faced against unranked Utah. It had been nearly three weeks since Hundley had truly been tested—the Bruins were off last week and played an overmatched New Mexico State squad the week before that—and a late-night road game in the rain on a Thursday makes it difficult to get back into a groove.
Hundley's response: 17-of-27, 211 yards, one touchdown, one interception through the air, 20 carries, 85 yards, one touchdown on the ground and one catch for seven yards and another score in the gritty 34-27 win.
Oh, and he also pinned Utah inside the 20 with a punt.
How's that for dynamism?
It wasn't a perfect performance from Hundley. He struggled at times with his accuracy, and early in the fourth quarter, he attempted to avoid a sack and threw a terrible pick-six that allowed Utah to tie the game:
Simply put, you can't make bonehead decisions like that in the NFL—unless you're Matt Schaub, of course. Just take the sack.
But again, it comes back to how a guy responds with his back against the wall, and Hundley showcased some NFL-worthy resiliency, especially for a player still so young and still improving.
On the very next drive, he led a 13-play, 48-yard drive. Doesn't sound so special on the surface, but with the offense sputtering, he converted one third down with his arm, converted one with his legs and intelligently ran to put the Bruins in field-goal position on another.
Moments later, after two Paul Perkins runs set up a third-and-six on the next drive, Hundley rumbled up the middle and exploded for a 36-yard touchdown to seal the victory.
You can see why Hundley is such a tantalizing prospect.
He struggled throwing the ball, but he dealt with a center who could barely get him the ball, an offensive line that was allowing consistent pressure and several other limiting factors.
And most importantly, despite all of that, he found a way to win the game. He made some electric plays with his legs—an increasingly sought-after trait in the modern NFL—and stayed cool when times were tough—an always sought-after trait in the NFL.
Right now, the 2014 QB class is Teddy Bridgewater and everyone else.
But Hundley is making a compelling case to be at the top of that second tier.
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