Wednesday, 06 March 2013 02:37

Questions Answered?

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Hundley USC 350The Bruins entered into spring ball with plenty of question marks. Two of the most glaring questions were at quarterback and the offensive line. Both spots have been up and down for over a decade. {mprestriction ids=3,4,5,6"}

If it has been written once, it has been written 100 times. The last quarterback to be drafted out of UCLA’s football program was Cade McNown. The last offensive lineman drafted out of the program was Kris Farris. Both players were drafted in 1999.

That is all anyone really needs to know, about the Bruin football program, in the first decade of the new century and why they were mired in mediocrity.

New Bruin coach Jim Mora’s first course of action, even before taking on the team’s question marks, was to instill in his team, a new mindset, one that wouldn’t ditch practice, but would face the challenge of becoming the best player you can become.

It was apparent from the first practice that things were changing. The pace was non-stop. After the athletes started getting used to the way things were going to be, the coaches were assigned to the task of finding the personnel that could answer the bell.

The quarterback position was going to be a battle between incumbent, Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut, Brett Hundley, and the two true freshmen, Jerry Neuheisel and T.J. Millweard.

Early in the competition it looked like Hundley had the tangibles, and intangibles, for the job. He only lacked experience. A lot coaches would have thrown in with experience, but things were changing at UCLA.

Hundley was named the starting quarterback early in August Camp and he has never looked back. 

Hundley and the offense would have never had the kind of year they did without the play of UCLA’s offensive line. The offensive line going into the season the team’s biggest riddle.

The biggest riddle ended up, the biggest pleasant surprise. 

New offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm was able to take a group that included two redshirt freshmen, one true freshman, one five-year senior and one sophomore who was coming off a LDS mission and molded them into a solid unit.

Offensive tackle Simon Goines was the true frosh. Center Jake Brendel and offensive tackle Torian White are the redshirt freshmen. Jeff Baca, who played guard and tackle is the senior and Xavier Su’a Filo was the man who came off his mission.

It was this group that opened the holes for Johnathan Franklin to break the all-time UCLA rushing record and for Hundley to record new school marks, for single-season completions, single-season passing yardage and single-season total offense. Hundley also became the first Bruin quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in three straight games.

Now the question change this spring, but the questions, for a change, are on the positive side. The questions for Hundley and the offensive line this spring to answer is how much did they improve this offseason? 

It is still a question, but it is a good one. Klemm knows his material and what they will need to do. He only has to find one replacement to his starting unit.

While some of the mystery will be gone this spring it will be interesting to see the growth of Hundley and offensive line that were puzzle, now on paper are team strengths.

Many things have changed for the better since last spring. Four-year starter for the Bruins at offensive tackle, Mike Harris, who wasn’t drafted by a NFL team, signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers and started in the league. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come.{/mprestriction}

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