The near bug-eyed look from UCLA Coach Jim Mora said a lot.
The simple question was whether Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley should have run the ball more in a 35-17 loss to Stanford. The answer was a brief stare, a smile and a one-word answer, “Yes.”
Hundley’s quick feet are an element of the UCLA offense that probably will be used in the rematch with the Cardinal in the Pac-12 championship game Friday.
“We discussed that with him,” Mora said.
The stat sheet shows Hundley had eight carries, but seven of those were sacks. He had one 38-yard scramble, which left him with zero net yards.
That one mad dash in the third quarter led to a UCLA touchdown. But by then, Stanford had the game in hand.
“As he continues to develop as a quarterback, he’s got to find that right mixture of knowing when to try to find something downfield and knowing when to use his great athletic gifts and run,” Mora said.
Hundley mixed it up well in UCLA’s 38-28 victory over USC on Nov. 17. Hundley’s mobility befuddled the Trojans, as he escaped pressure and extended plays, often completing passes.
Stanford defenders almost dared him to run Saturday, sticking to receivers. Hundley completed 20 of 38 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown. He also had one pass intercepted.
But Hundley didn’t take advantage of a few open-field opportunities to run.
“As quarterback, you have to understand when it’s time to sit in the pocket and when it is time to take off,” Hundley said. “It’s always a split-second decision. Sometimes you’ve got to stand in the pocket and take a hit for the team.”
Mora would like to see Hundley inflict the damage.
“When a quarterback runs, gets the first down, it can be deflating to a defense,” Mora said. “You’ve got them all covered up, you’re getting pressure, and all of sudden he sneaks through for the first down. I have been on the other end of that as a defensive coordinator. As a play caller, you start wondering how to stop that guy.”
B for effort
Mora said he liked the effort against Stanford but acknowledged it wasn’t to the level he desires.
“Our effort wasn’t as maniacal as I would like it to be,” Mora said. “I would not criticize the effort at all. We played with a lot of heart. I’m looking for the extraordinary. That might be unreasonable. If we play extraordinary every time, it becomes ordinary.”
As to whether the Bruins were maniacal against USC, Mora said, “I don’t know, that was a long time ago.”
Hundley felt something missing against Stanford.
“We scored on the first drive; after that, we hit a lull,” Hundley said. “I have to pick it up as leader of the offense.”
As to whether the Bruins played maniacally against USC, Hundley said, “We won the game. Yeah, it was there.”
The Bruins’ timing still seemed a bit off Sunday morning.
It took eight takes for seven players to get the eight-clap correct while shooting a television promotion for Friday’s game. Hundley, Jeff Baca, Anthony Barr, Johnathan Franklin, Joseph Fauria, Eric Kendricks and Datone Jones eventually got it right.
“As a team, we should be mature enough to handle this, no matter the outside distractions, " Hundley said of the buildup to the game.