The original version of this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.
It wasn’t 50,000, but it was better than UCLA’s ever hauled in for a spring game.
Roughly 20,000 UCLA faithful entered the Rose Bowl Saturday evening to see the Bruins close out their second spring under coach Jim Mora. While UCLA didn’t flash any new plays or schemes and no position races were decided, Mora said he felt the Bruins’ showing didn’t disappoint.
“It probably wasn’t the most intense spring game you’ve ever seen, but I think it was productive and I think we got a lot of good work done,” Mora said.
Mora also mentioned the team being slightly out of its element with a location so vast as the Rose Bowl when compared to a low-pressure atmosphere like Spaulding Field, the Bruins’ practice site for the past four weeks leading up to Saturday’s Spring Showcase.
The team’s offense, led first by rising redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, followed by a corps of backups that included rising redshirt freshmen Jerry Neuheisel and T.J. Millweard, looked right at home, however, scoring on three of its first four drives and seemingly moving the ball at will.
Rising senior outside linebacker Anthony Barr said that while the Bruins’ defense struggled early, the unit was able to settle down and disrupt the offense’s momentum.
“We have lapses in focus sometimes,” Barr said. “We’ll be good for a certain period of time, then all of a sudden we’ll give up a big play or something, and during the season we can’t have that.
“I think today, for whatever reason, we just came out slow. I don’t know if the crowd got to us or the atmosphere, but we just can’t have it.”
Hundley’s sophomore campaign
Pinned back by dozens of UCLA fans near the Rose Bowl’s southwest tunnel after Saturday’s game was Hundley, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
The rising sophomore remained patient, signing autographs and taking pictures for well over half an hour, and despite his success both in Saturday night’s game and during his redshirt freshman season, he remains humble; his coaches said he’s made solid progress throughout this spring season and is constantly learning.
“I don’t know if it was night and day, but it was like pre-dawn to dusk,” said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone of Hundley’s development. “Last year there was like one light on in the house and now it’s like every week he’s turning another light on.”
Last year, Hundley was still fighting for the job he currently holds. Now he has a firm grasp of the keys to UCLA’s fast-paced offense. Mora said that Hundley, as well as the rest of his returning teammates, have remained hungry throughout spring practice, even despite these all-too-different circumstances.
“The thing I like about our team is that they’re so hungry. … There’s not one of them that thinks nine wins was a great year,” Mora said.
And while Hundley showed strong chemistry with his familiar offense, including rising sophomore wide receiver Devin Fuller, who hauled in six catches for 66 yards and one of Hundley’s two touchdowns, he insists improvements need to be made between now and the start of fall camp in August.
“It’s a blessing, but you can’t get complacent on where you’re at,” Hundley said. “Like I said, I have a long way to go. Our goal is No. 1 offense in the country, and I told coach, ‘We’re not punting.’ I don’t want to punt.”
Correction: Brett Hundley scored two touchdowns during the spring game.