If you're, then, talking about achievements in this game and gutsiness, give the game ball to Hundley. He had perhaps his best all-around first half of his career, going 12 for 15 for 175 yards, along with a perfectly thrown post route to Devin Lucien that Lucien seemed to not want to catch. That first-half performance was the best decision-making 30 minutes of Hundley's career, being near-flawless in recognizing Utah's pressure, finding the right receiver and making an accurate pass every time. The game then completely changed when he had the eye issue and, of course, so did Hundley's performance. UCLA's play-calling got conservative, which you might understand since its quarterback couldn't see very well. But what was, then, amazing about Hundley's performance is that UCLA went to its running game, which is a read option, and Hundley, with his bad eye, started keeping the ball. So, let that sink in: a quarterback who can't see very well, perhaps because he got his bell rung, is now the offense's primary ball-carrier. It exposed the limitation of this version of Noel Mazzone's offense; when it goes primarily to a running game it's almost entirely based on the zone read, which could then force your quarterback to run with the ball. But it didn't show any limitation of Hundley, who ran for 90 yards in the second half, including the game-winning, 36-yard touchdown scamper late in the fourth quarter. What a remarkable performance by the redshirt sophomore quarterback.
Looking back it - when I threw up the post-game late last night - I was harsh on number 17. I didn't realize how much Hundley's vision was impacted.
Reading through some of the clips this AM - Hundley's game is now giving me flashbacks of Cade's unforgettable "Puke" game v. Oregon in 1998. That game was at the Rose Bowl, which the Bruins won in OT. It was one of the greatest Bruin performances of all time.
Well number 17 didn't puke his guts out like number 18 did in 1998. But what he did with his blurred vision against a solid team like Utah, with the backdrop of a fired up crowd (in all black) - was nothing short of remarkable.
As a Bruin alum, I think I always going to be a worrier - just like the Red Sox fans were until they finally shaked off Bambino's curse in 2004. And the worry is not going away any time soon unless we win a BCS bowl game in the near future. Still it's worth appreciating what we have in number 17. I haven't felt this way about a Bruin QB since number 18 (as of right now my favorite UCLA football player of all time).
UPDATE (N): Right after I blogged this I saw this disconcerting comment from BillytheSid re. Hundley's injury. It's unclear now whether it was related to contact lens or due to a concussion symptoms from taking a hit. Whatever it is Jim Mora needs to come clear and be transparent about it ASAP. He can't treat this like the way Rich Rodriguez handled the concussion issue of his QB leading up to our game last season. We are going to look more into this. GO BRUINS.