UCLA hits 10-win mark with Sun Bowl romp over Hokies

In Wednesday’s edition of the Daily News:
– My story on UCLA’s 42-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl, and where the Bruins sit heading into 2014. (Mainly, awaiting Brett Hundley’s NFL draft decision.)
– Jill Painter’s column on why quarterback Hundley should go pro after his standout showing in El Paso.
– A notebook on linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, who closed his UCLA career with co-MVP honors in the Sun Bowl.

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Jim Mora ‘hopeful’ Brett Hundley will stay at UCLA

After UCLA’s win over USC on Nov. 30, head coach Jim Mora seized the moment. During a live postgame interview, he attempted to rope star quarterback Brett Hundley into committing to another year in college.

It didn’t work — Hundley demurred on his NFL draft decision — but a month later, Mora remained optimistic heading into a Sun Bowl matchup against Virginia Tech.

Asked today if he’s thought about the redshirt sophomore potentially playing his final game as a Bruin, the coach said: “I don’t think it will be. I’m very hopeful it won’t be.”

Earlier this week, Hundley said he had not yet received feedback from the NFL draft advisory board, and remains uncertain about his future. Continue reading

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ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay evaluates Bruins

The notebook that ran in today’s edition of the Daily News covers some of Cassius Marsh’s value as an NFL prospect, whether it be at defensive end, linebacker or even tight end. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay gave the UCLA senior a fourth- or fifth-round draft grade. Here’s what he said about some other Bruins:

Linebacker Anthony Barr

“He’s not as talented as (South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon) Clowney. He’s not as big, and he’s probably just a notch below in terms of the explosive athleticism. But I think Barr is still a very, very talented player who’s only played the defensive side for two years. Who continues to get better and better in terms of his play, how he’s using his hands, how he’s getting off blocks. I think when it’s all said and done, he’s going to wind up being a top-five pick. Continue reading

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UCLA football banquet awards

UCLA held its annual end-of-season banquet Sunday night at Beverly Hilton, handing out team awards in 15 different categories. These were the results.

Henry R. “Red” Sanders Award for Most Valuable Player
Offense – OL Xavier Su’a-Filo
Defense – LB Anthony Barr

Paul I. Wellman Award for All-Around Excellence
QB Brett Hundley

Nick “Pac” Pasquale Award for Outstanding Scout Team Player
Offense – OL Carl Hulick
Defense – DE Zach Vinci
Special Teams – RB Ryan Davis

Kenneth S. Washington Award for Outstanding Senior of the Year
Offense – Shaq Evans
Defense – Jordan Zumwalt
Special Teams – Stan McKay Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 12/12/13 Answers

Q: What is your gut feeling on whether or not Brett Hundley stays? Should he decide to bolt for the NFL, who do you see as starting QB next year? Does Mariota’s announcement that he’s returning for his junior year at Oregon affect BH’s decision? If he leaves, will Devin Fuller get a chance to be quarterback? Do you see a big dropoff from Hundley to the next QB?

A: I think he stays, though I could see a team reaching for him in the first round based on potential. Marcus Mariota’s return to Oregon does thin out the quarterback class, however, as does Zach Mettenberger’s torn ACL. Even Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, a potential No. 1 overall pick, isn’t a complete lock to declare for the draft.

If Hundley does leave, the job will go to Asiantii Woulard, who has major upside. Unless he makes significant strides in spring and fall, however, he wouldn’t be close to what Hundley would do as a third-year starter. Devin Fuller won’t be moving back to quarterback; he’s much more useful as a receiver.

Q: What is the deal with the Wear twins’ slump? Senior leadership works better when your seniors aren’t worse than the underclassmen. Continue reading

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Hundley ‘not concerned’ about potential Jim Mora departure

Echoing earlier comments from his teammates, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley said today that he isn’t worried about coach Jim Mora potentially going to Washington.

“I’m not concerned at all, to be honest,” he told sports radio host Jim Rome. “I haven’t really heard too much. Obviously, there’s so much talk about it right now. But I’m not concerned about it at all. I know Coach Mora. I love him to death. Obviously, he loves UCLA. He loves the players. We love him. We’re not really worried or anything like that about him leaving.”

Of course, it would have been surprising if Hundley or other Bruins had said otherwise, but they at least backed up the tone Mora set with his post-USC press conference. Earlier reports that Mora was in Seattle were unfounded. Continue reading

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Notes and quotes: UCLA claims L.A. with 35-14 win

A roundup of the coverage in Sunday’s edition of the L.A. Daily News:
– UCLA’s 35-14 win over the Trojans gave the team rightful claim to the city, at least for another year.
– Brett Hundley had his way with USC’s defense. Will he come back to do so again?
– The Bruins’ defense held the Trojans to 314 yards, the lowest output of any UCLA opponent this season.
– The loss takes pressure off USC athletic director Pat Haden to hire interim coach Ed Orgeron.
– Columnist Tom Hoffarth shares the story of his old USC jacket, a gift long lost.

Some thoughts from the victory:

– Might as well start with some quick “we run L.A.” quotes …

– Jim Mora is clearly moving UCLA along the right path. Continue reading

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UCLA 35, USC 14: Quarterback Brett Hundley

Quarterback Brett Hundley insisted he was still undecided about whether or not he will declare for the 2014 NFL draft, but wasn’t at all uncertain about UCLA’s place in Los Angeles.

“This win really validated what we did last year and what we’re doing this year. The one thing that’s funny to me — I never thought of this as a battle. I thought of this more as a takeover.

“UCLA runs L.A. Let’s have some fun saying it, because we’ve got another year to say it.”

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