UCLA gets a head start with Brett Hundley set at quarterback

UCLA starting quarterback Brett Hundley practices on the field at UCLA.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA opened spring football practice Tuesday under unusual circumstances.

Unusual and pleasant circumstances.


For the first time in years, there is no quibbling about who will man the quarterback position.

This is Brett Hundley’s team, as it was in the fall last year.

Life won’t get much easier for Coach Jim Mora as far as that goes.

“Last year, it was so unsettled,” Mora said, referring to last spring. “We were trying to put the pieces together, decide who we were going to be offensively and what we were capable of doing. That wasn’t a question we could really answer until the starter was decided.”

Hundley, who will be a sophomore, was named the starter a week into last summer’s training camp. He threw for 3,740 yards and 29 touchdowns and guided UCLA to the Pac-12 Conference championship game.

So there was no disputing Hundley’s place atop the depth chart now.

And that, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said, “puts everyone on the team in a comfort zone, though I don’t want Brett to ever feel comfortable.”

A year ago, Hundley was sharing snaps with Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Jerry Neuheisel.

“It’s hard getting the timing down when you’re going with different guys,” receiver Shaquelle Evans said. “The understanding of the offense is easier when you know the quarterback.”

Mora sees that already.

“I think chemistry takes time,” Mora said. “The offensive line, the receivers, the running backs, the mesh points. You can draw a play up on a piece paper for a receiver and quarterback, but when you get on the field there are things that happen that make it different. We couldn’t develop that chemistry last year until well into the season.”

Hundley set single-season school records for passing yards and total yards (4,095), and his touchdown passes placed second in UCLA history.

“You can see the difference one year to the next,” Mazzone said. “He understands what we’re trying to accomplish offensively. He’s getting guys lined up, all those type of things.”

So Mazzone’s work is done?

“Well, it gives us a chance to focus elsewhere,” Mazzone said. “We’re going to have to find some new faces, find running backs, find offensive linemen.”

Capella retires

Offensive lineman Greg Capella has retired from football because of concussion-related issues. Capella, who would have been a senior this fall, missed most of the 2012 season after suffering multiple concussions. He was injured during training camp and again during a game against Houston on Sept. 15. He did not play the remainder of the season.

Capella started 14 games in 2011.

Guard Alexandru Ceachir left practice Tuesday, also because of concussion-related issues.

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