Brett Hundley showcases full skill set as UCLA tops Virginia Tech 42-12 in the Sun Bowl
If the Sun Bowl ends up being Brett Hundley’s final game at UCLA, at least he went out in style. The redshirt sophomore showed exactly why NFL scouts are so interested in him with a 226-yard passing, 161-yard rushing, four-touchdown performance in a 42-12 rout of Virginia Tech.
While Hundley hasn’t yet been able to generate consistency as a passer, he certainly boasts the tools to be a star at the next level. He possesses good arm strength, elusiveness, speed and size — and he clearly hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. He showcased his running ability in the first half on Tuesday, most notably during an 86-yard touchdown scamper with 9:17 remaining in the second quarter. When the Hokies zeroed in on his rushing, Hundley made them pay with his arm, tossing fourth-quarter scores of eight and 59 yards, respectively. Even though Virginia Tech did a good job hanging around early, it didn’t have the offensive firepower to keep up.
Of course, it didn’t help matters that Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas took a vicious hit from linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the second quarter just moments after dragging basically the entire UCLA defense on a powerful run. He was initially diagnosed with a stinger, but he was reevaluated at the half. Thomas came out of the locker room wearing pads, but he didn’t have his helmet and never returned to the game.
Junior Mark Leal, who had previously attempted 23 passes in his entire career, took Thomas’ place and made few solid plays before UCLA got a good read on him. He finished 12-of-25 for 130 yards with two interceptions. Virginia Tech’s lack of playmakers was a weakness all season, and losing Thomas ultimately proved too much to come back from.
A botched fair catch with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter put the Hokies in great field position, but they opted for a 22-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-two in the red zone. Michael Branthover’s kick temporarily cut the deficit to 14-10. However, the Bruins marched 85 yards for a touchdown on their next drive, and freshman sensation Myles Jack snagged a 24-yard pick-six less than a minute later. The Hokies were buried for good.
For his part, Hundley sits in a win-win situation right now. If he elects to return to campus, he’ll have another year to refine his game and showcase his elite skill set. If he decides to declare for the NFL draft, he immediately becomes an intriguing target for any team that isn’t able to land Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater (assuming he declares for the draft as well). There is no clear-cut No. 2 quarterback prospect in the group behind Bridgewater, and Hundley has just as enticing a case as guys like Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Brett Smith and Tajh Boyd.