Let's get this out of the way: The UCLA offense just didn't look good in the team's first game of the season against Virginia. The Bruins accrued 358 yards of offense and scored just one touchdown while they watched the defense take control of the game.
That is certainly concerning for a team ranked No. 7 in the nation, and if UCLA is to right the ship, quarterback Brett Hundley needs help from his supporting cast immediately.
After a 2013 season in which Hundley completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions, expectations were high entering his junior year. In fact, ESPN ranked the quarterback as its No. 12 player in the nation heading into 2014.
Well, things didn't exactly start out as planned. In the team's 28-20 victory over the Cavaliers, Hundley completed 20 of his 33 passing attempts for 242 yards and a rating of just 43.2. Those are very underwhelming numbers from the acclaimed signal-caller, but his performance wasn't exactly his fault.
Although, that won't stop early scrutiny like this tweet from Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:
Heismans are not won or lost in August...but Brett Hundley will need to at least throw a TD pass to get back into the conversation..— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) August 30, 2014
Plenty went wrong on the Bruins offense that Hundley couldn't control. Virginia's pass rush looked spectacular against UCLA's offensive line on Saturday. Some of that could be credited to the Cavaliers' great game plan and scheme, but most should be attributed to poor offensive line play.
Bruin Report Online tweeted an early-game observation regarding the team's interior line play:
Scott Quessenberry is getting manhandled on the interior. #UCLA— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) August 30, 2014
Scott Quessenberry generally plays guard; however, the absence of Jake Brendel in the opener due to a sprained knee forced him to slide over to center. As you can see, the move didn't work out so well.
The line continued to struggle through the remainder of the contest, giving up four sacks and producing several false starts. This led to head coach Jim Mora Jr. answering concerns during a press conference, via Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News:
I know there's going to be a lot of concern about our offensive line. It's warranted at this point. Anyone that watched that game will go, 'My goodness, what are we going to do about the offensive line?' For those of us that know, we know that we've got a good group. We've got to play better, and I know that we will.
This is something that must be cleaned up in very short order. After all, the Bruins certainly don't want Hundley to constantly take matters into his own hands—he showed his competitiveness when scrambling for a touchdown and dragging a defender into the end zone with him. That could be a very risky endeavor.
But it all comes down to the offensive line. The NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah tweeted his take of how UCLA could move the ball after Hundley's touchdown run:
UCLA OL gets zero push at the line of scrimmage. Better off spreading out and letting Hundley take off... Like that TD— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 30, 2014
While that may have worked, that can't be counted on as a go-to play this season.
UCLA is set to face off against Memphis and Texas over the next two weeks but faces a difficult test afterward in No. 17 Arizona State. If these issues aren't corrected by then, the Bruins stand little chance to retain their Top 10 ranking in 2014.