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BN End of Season Roundtable (Part 1): UCLA Meets Expectations, Hundley’s Upcoming Decision

Part 1 of 3 part of end of season roundtable among BruinsNation front-pagers going over various issues impacting UCLA football program at the end of 2013 season.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

1. Now that the season is over, do you believe that the football program met your expectations this season?

Uclaluv: Yes. In some ways the program exceeded them. The number of wins were in line with my expectations, but the character, fight, and spirit of the program went beyond what I expected. I am in awe at how fast a whole culture can change. The fight, hard work, integrity, solidarity, joy, talent (getting to be seen), of this team is inspiring. Like Achilles said, I love this team and that is new, especially at the end of the season.

bruinclassof10: I would have liked to have seen us beat one of the PAC-12's premier teams (Stanford or Oregon), but a 10-win season with a resounding victory over the other school makes this UCLA fan very happy. I remember thinking that the Dorrell season was a fluke - I don't feel the same way about this 10-win team and am very optimistic about next year with or without Hundley's leadership (but would prefer that he comes back).

Odysseus: Yes. Obviously, the losses to Stanford and Oregon were disappointing, although I think many of us were most disappointed with the ASU loss. That said, the program met expectations and built on last year. There weren't really any games like the Cal or Baylor game from 2012.

Achilles: I don't mean to cop out, but I prefer not to do the "expectations" thing. I prefer to take it week by week and be surprised by the results one way or the other.

gbruin: Yes. We had a harder schedule this year but ended with a better record. We had some bad halves of games, but never had any complete flops like last year. We finished the season with 2 big wins instead of 3 losses. There is still plenty of room for growth, but I'm really happy with this year.

IE Angel: I would say yes but with a couple of notes alongside it. This was the best UCLA team in terms of talent and performance that I have seen and followed closely. I'm only 23, so that puts me just a few years behind really remembering the late 90's teams. UCLA beat every team that they should have beaten, lost to the two teams (on paper) that they should have lost to and lost a very close toss-up game. Beating Southern Cal is a requirement for a successful season, and UCLA did so convincingly. It feels like a lost opportunity though, just because of how the Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon games played out. UCLA could have easily won 12 games this year.

Ajax: Although it is disappointing to fall short of the Rose Bowl, I would have to say that the team met my expectations. After Torian White and Simon Goines went down, I actually downgraded expectations and expected a loss to a subpar team. That didn't happen. The team was actually in every game that they lost and arguably could have won all three. Overall, expectations met.

DCBruins: Yes. I feel this is the best state the program has been in since Troy Aikman. I realize the Toledo teams has some very good years but right now have better balance on both sides of the ball. I think BBS is dead.

AHMB: Yes. The team actually exceeded my expectations last year, but the end of the year left a sour taste. This year, there was no such let down. There was no road no show to a talentless conference opponent. It was a good year, and it really set up next year as a legitimate conference title contender.

2. What is your grade for the coaching staff this season? Why? Do you believe that any additional coaching changes need to be made?

Uclaluv: A. It would be an A+ but I believe the offense stalls too often. The A+ because I think the staff has changed the culture of the football team, has us headed in the right direction, and is doing it the right way. However, Mazzone seems to take too long to make adjustments. I get tired of watching us running up the middle when over and over there is no where to go. I also think Mazzone II hasn't helped Brett develop as much as he might have by now. So, I would like to see the QB Coach changed. I could go either way on the older Mazzone. Overall, though, this staff does things the right way. They are a group that I think lives up to our expectations in terms of integrity, and doing things the right way. They have brought fight back to the team and care for these young men deeply. They belong at U.C.L.A.

bruinclassof10: I'd have to say A-. A+'s for Coach Mora who showed exemplary leadership and class all season long. A+'s for Coaches Klemm, Spanos, Ulbrich, Meat, Yarber and Angus too for killing it on the recruiting trail and making adjustments. B's for the Mazzones - I'm still not sure what Taylor does besides slapping butts on the sideline and a C for former coach Broussard bring the overall grade down to an A-.

Odysseus: I would say B+, but obviously different grades for different coaches. I'm not down on Mazzone as others. I cringe at his playcalling at times as well but overall, I do think he's a good offensive mind. He's one of only five playcallers who has averaged at least 6 yards per play over the last three years. I think it's good that the change was made at running back coach.

Achilles: A- on defense. Could have been an A but the first half against ASU is worth half a grade at least. B on offense. To get an A the team would have to have much better play calling and the quarterback would have progressed more in terms of his personal skills. I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the offense due to the number of injuries at RB and OL. Special teams: C. Not impressed with either kicker, it took us until Mora asked for volunteers to find out that Ish Adams returns kickoffs, we were burned by fakes and I honestly can't remember one game where I said "the special teams were key today." It has to get better next year, no margin for error in 2014, I'd hate to blow a chance at history because we missed a late field goal or got burned by a fake.

gbruin: I would say B+. If you think about the opportunities we missed against Stanford and that first half against ASU that cost us a shot at the Rose Bowl, I don't think it can be an A. The offense too often tried to do things that weren't working and the secondary had some struggles early. I'm actually ok with all the coaches staying because I think they all made progress from year 1 to year 2, and the added talent and experience will hopefully give them confidence to be more dynamic and less predictable with the system and play calling, particularly on offense. My one concern is if the QB coach has enough of a name and skill to recruit and retain the kind of QB we need to stay at a high level.

IE Angel: Probably around what everyone else has said. A- or a B+. I give the staff a ton of credit for how the Nick Pasquale situation was handled. It would have been easy for the team to go in a different direction after that tragedy, but they came together and rallied. On the field, the defensive staff did a great job for the most part. The scheme adjusted to opponents and utilized personnel well. The thought coming into the year was that the defensive secondary was an issue and that unit exceeded everyone's expectations. Offensively, there is a bit of a curve due to the rash of injuries to the running back core and the offensive line. Even with those concerns, the coaching staff can be blamed a great deal for the way the ASU game played out (by taking away the Bruins' best coverage linebacker against the team with the most dynamic pass catching running backs in the conference). That was a coaching decision that backfired in a big way. I do not think that any additional coaching moves have to be made, though I'd prefer a more experienced QB coach to mentor that group moving forward. Big fan of the addition of Kennedy Polamalu to the staff as a RB coach, as well as retaining DeShaun Foster as an assistant.

Ajax: I'll go with the average here and assign an overall grade of A-. It's hard to go much lower than that after 10 wins, crushing $C and a solid bowl win. The only questions regarding the coaching staff that I have relate to Hundley's progress, which falls on the Mazzonnes. While there is a lot of talk about Brett entering the NFL draft, he is still somewhat of a project as a pocket passer and can really benefit from an offseason of filmwork and understanding defenses. If Hundley does return (fingers crossed), I expect to see significant improvement in his ability to get the ball downfield.

DCBruins: I think Mora has done a great job in the context of what he came into and what he has accomplished I give him an A. The $C game was a thing of beauty and this team never let up this year. I do think Special teams are a serious problem that need to be reworked, new coach, etc. We stink in that category.

AHMB: I agree with the general sentiment here. An A/A- seems accurate. Coach Mora showed a lot of improvement over last year, in my opinion. He seems like he has a better grasp of the college game and the college athlete. Overall, I think the staff did a good job in working with what is on the roster. The biggest gripe that I have is that the offensive line failed to show much, if any, improvement over last year, though I understand that losing two starting tackles is a big deal.

3. Do you believe that Brett Hundley will declare for the NFL Draft? If he does declare, what should the staff do and what should they have done differently?

Uclaluv: I really don't know what he will do. I'm leaning to his coming back because if he listens to Mora and others he will hear that he is not really ready. I think he is smart, so I lean to his staying. I'd hate to see him go for our program, but mostly for him. I think he will disappear if he goes to the NFL right now. His decision making and accuracy are not where they need to be and as Mora said, you get better by taking snaps, not watching from the bench. I think if he declares, they need to support him. I think they are doing what they need to do now to let him know what they think. Mora also made his views kind of public, so I think they're probably doing all they can to help him make the best decision.

bruinclassof10: I have no idea but I'm going to say he (like AB) will return to make millions and getting more snaps in. He can either be Blaine Gabbert or Andrew Luck. If he does declare, in retrospect, the staff should've pulled Woulard's redshirt and given him reps to make him comfortable.

Odysseus: I'm not sure, but I think he's going to go. It's a difficult decision, but it is his to make. Hundley has great potential but I think he would benefit from an additional year as he still struggles at times with reads and accuracy. That said we all love him and hope he stays. If Hundley does leave, the staff should absolutely support him and prepare for the next QB, most likely Woulard. I don't think there's much the staff should have done differently and I would not have been in favor of playing Wouldard as a true freshman just for mop-up duty.

Achilles: I have no idea but if I had to guess he'll go. The staff would need to recruit a quarterback because we won't have enough quality depth next year and they should have addressed that by bringing in more quarterbacks in the past. To think we pulled Woulard out of Florida with a late commit -- image where we would be if we were going into next year without him and Hundley.

gbruin: The defeatist in me thinks he'll go, simply because if he stays, and with the other Bruins returning, we are a legit title contender next year. That's just too good to be true. It's a whole different ballgame if we start next season with a brand new QB, be it Woulard or Little Neu or Fafaul. I'm glad that Woulard kept his redshirt this year, but it's pretty tough starting a year with a QB that has never taken any significant snaps.

IE Angel: I think he declares and gets drafted in the top 10. Been leaning that way most of the season. If he stays, I will be celebrating along with the rest of Bruins Nation because he takes UCLA from a preseason contender without him to a preseason favorite. The clear replacement is Asiantii Woulard. By most accounts I've seen, he has made huge strides this season and will have a surplus of talent and a very experienced offensive line to work with, along with what should be an elite recruiting class of talent at the skill positions.

Ajax: I am about 60/40 that he returns. I think he's probably a borderline first round pick at this point, and he probably realizes that he will have a team around him next year that has the potential to help elevate his draft status. Whatever he chooses though, we should all support his decision and wish him luck. Either way, the staff better make sure Asianti Woulard is ready to go and that they get another QB in this year's recruiting class.

DCBruins: I don't think he should declare but I won't blame the coaches if he does. Hundley needs to learn to throw the deep ball much better. The VT game exposed that again.

AHMB: I think he'll enter the draft and get picked in the top 10. Physically, he's as gifted as anyone on the board, and the NFL loves upside. Woulard will transition nicely into the position, though it would be ideal to have him sit another year behind Hundley and get mop up reps. The staff needs to sign a quarterback this offseason for depth, regardless of Hundley's decision, and I have a feeling Brad Kaaya will be a Bruin uniform next season.

4. Assuming Brett Hundley returns, what is the biggest need for the staff to address this offseason?

Uclaluv: A field goal kicker!

bruinclassof10: We lose AB and Zumwalt, but Savaiinaea, Hollins and Orjioke are talented and have shined at times this season. We also lose Shaq Evans so we need guys like Lucien (who I think will be our next stud WR), Payton, Duarte, Fuller and others to elevate their game.

Odysseus: Developing the offensive linemen and recruiting and developing RBs and WRs.

Achilles: Field goal kicker is a good one. Also, we need to be more consistent with the play calling. There are times when we play with a bit quicker pace and Hundley excels but all too often we play it slow.

gbruin: Yes! He's coming back! In that case, we need to be less predictable on offense and open the playbook. We have very good skill players, a very good offensive line, and a Heisman candidate QB. No more runs up the middle when it isn't working. Unleash the hounds!.

IE Angel: Elite talent at the skill positions. That's what I think is missing more than anything else from the Bruins being a great offensive team. The line improves with age and should be better every year as Adrian Klemm keeps bringing in and developing players. The current Bruins are all very good players, to win a national title (and that is the goal) there need to be great players getting touches aside from the quarterback position.

Ajax: Easy--a running game to take some of the pressure off Hundley (when he comes back next year). A couple things need to happen for the running game to improve: the OL needs to kill it in the offseason under the tutelage of Coach Alosi. Judging by the strength and conditioning gaines that we saw from last year to this year, I have no doubt that this will happen. The team also needs a #1 RB to emerge. (Imagine if the team had Jet Ski this season). Whether that happens through one of our current RB's rising to the occasion or a blue chip recruit entering the program and taking over, it needs to happen for next year's offense to be more consistent.

DCBruins: Agree with Ajax. The running game was bad this year. This was probably the worst collection of running backs that UCLA has had as a group.

AHMB: We ran for 196 ypg this year, 6 more yards per game than last year, and we allowed 36 sacks rather than 52 like the year before, but I still think offensive line needs attention. We're going to be better as our offensive line matures, but line play is probably the biggest difference between our team and the BCS teams. We have to be able to run the ball against good defenses with our running backs.