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Film Room: Who Is To Blame For Ten Sacks?

A look at Brett Hundley's performance against the Utah Utes, where he was sacked 10 times and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

109 sacks in 2 full seasons and 5 games in 2014.

Over 150 knockdowns in the same timeframe.

If you want to fault Brett Hundley on 25% of those sacks (which I can assure you, is an insanely high estimate), then you still have 82 sacks, which would still be the most by 9.

Taylor Kelly of Arizona State has the 2nd most in that time frame at 73 sacks and he finally broke down this season against Colorado.

Brett Hundley has never broken down or been anything but a workhorse for the UCLA Bruins and Coach Noel Mazzone's offense. He accepts blame, champions the mindset laid out by Jim Mora and displays every positive attribute you could want in a student athlete at whatever college you happen to root for.

Why is it that people still manage to try and pin the issues surrounding UCLA's inconsistent performance on offense on the only player on the UCLA offense with a clear chance at being a high round NFL draft pick?

It would be easy to pin it on the Curse of More (I made up the name, don't blame the writer if you don't like that), illustrated here in a great article on Grantland by Michael Baumann. People are always more apt to pin blame for the struggles of a team on the most recognizable face of said team.

Why is that? Why are players like Hundley or Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout or Peyton Manning or Tony Romo held to a different standard than their far more flawed teams/teammates?

Baumann puts it better than I can here:

"I’ve never understood the tendency to blame a team’s inadequacies on its best players. Maybe it’s a matter of contrast: The closer a player gets to elite status, the more obvious his few flaws become. Or maybe it’s certain fans’ desire to look smarter than everyone else: "No, you see, the team’s best player isn’t actually doing the most to help the club win. It’s not that easy."

The thing is, it often is that easy."

That is what UCLA is currently going through with Brett Hundley.

Despite the fact that Hundley is one of the best QBs in the country, on his way to being the holder of the vast majority of UCLA records for QBs, and having been the single biggest reason why UCLA even has a chance of regaining the national spotlight this season.  Despite all of that, he was still the player that was most widely criticized after the final FG attempt went wide right.

16-22 for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gained another 39 yards rushing. Sacked 10 times resulting in -63 yards (counting sacks as negative rushing yards is among the dumbest things that college football does).

Led UCLA down the field in the 4th quarter to take the lead in a game that UCLA probably shouldn't have had a chance to win in the 4th quarter based on the way they'd played the rest of the game.

People were quick to blame his pocket presence for the sacks over the many other factors that were in play. Some in the media with some extreme takes even went so far as to say he can't be an NFL QB.

I strongly disagree.

While I have never been fired by the Bears for being a woefully inept judge of talent on the offensive side of the ball, I have been heavily involved in football for the better part of my life and trust my eyes and mind.

I'm going to go through the tape and look at every play that Brett Hundley was involved in from Saturday's game and see just how he factored in to the final score and the performance of the offense.

Let's get to the tape.

1. 2nd and 10, completion to Devin Fuller for a loss of 3

  • This is a weird play, Fuller motions from the slot into the backfield and then slips into the flats, Hundley fakes a handoff to Paul Perkins away from the motion. Utah sends a blitzing DB off the edge where Fuller is headed and he's unblocked. Blitzer is right in the face, Hundley lobs it over the blitz to Fuller. Looks like there would have been space if Eldridge Massington had picked up his block. Good pass, just not a play that ever had much of a chance to be successful.

2. 3rd and 13, sack for a loss of 8

  • Utah is pretty clearly showing blitz here. You can see communication between Jake Brendel and Scott Quessenberry and later in the pre-snap process from Malcolm Bunche. Perkins is motioned out of the backfield to the right, leaving 5 in protection. Caleb Benenoch gets beat instantly by Utah defensive end Hunter DImick. This happens in about 2 seconds. Hundley tries to step up in the pocket and clearly keeps his eyes downfield, but an unblocked DE changes those plans. Can't pin this anywhere but on Benenoch.

3. 2nd and 6, handoff to Perkins for 1-yard.

  • This is the first true zone read of the game for the UCLA offense, at least to my eyes. Hundley sees Nate Orchard in position to make a play on the QB keep and makes the correct decision to hand Perkins the ball. Malcolm Bunche gets his face crossed and the Utah defender makes the tackle for a short gain.

4. 3rd and 5, 14 yard completion to Massington for UCLA's first 1st down.

  • Utah showing blitz pre-snap, but only rush 4. UCLA has 7 in protection and somehow Nate Iese ends up 1-on-1 on Orchard while Bunche and Kenny Lacy double team a defensive tackle. Iese gets beat around the edge because, you know he's basically a novice to the concept of pass blocking and Nate Orchard is arguably the best pass rusher in the Pac-12. Luckily, Perkins does a good job of helping and gets in Orchard's way before he's able to pressure Hundley. The throw is a back-shoulder ball to Massington, a throw woefully underutilized in this offense in my opinion. Ball is out in 1.68 seconds by my watch. Good ball, Massington makes a nice grab and uses his frame to create a rebound type of situation.

5. 1st and 10, 10 yard run by Perkins

  • Zone read, good decision to give as the unblocked end stayed at home and there were 4 other Utah defenders to that side of the ball.

6. 1st and 10, 2 yard "run" by Ishmael Adams

  • This is that tap pass that West Virginia made popular with Tavon Austin. UCLA hasn't quite hit on it yet, but the play is there. It's a forward pass by definition, so I'm not sure why Hundley isn't credited with a completion but that is probably nitpicking with UCLA stat keeping. Opportunity for a big play is there on this is Paul Perkins doesn't totally whiff on his block. Both Payton and Massington do a nice job sealing on defensive backs to give Adams the sideline.

7. 2nd and 8, 3 yard completion to Jordan Payton

  • Utah shows a 4-man rush and might have been rushing 5 but the ball is out too quick to tell. I am personally not a huge fan of this play either, though it did net a 50+ yard completion last week because an Arizona State defender decided to stop playing football mid-snap. Quick throw to the sideline with twins WR on each side and a nominal fake handoff to Perkins, judging by the effort of the two other WRs there was no decision to be made on this play. Payton takes a step forward then turns back for the ball, Devin Fuller is tasked with blocking a corner 1-on-1 and does a not terrible job. Problem is that Utah appears to have a functioning film room because the OLB to the play side recognizes the play and breaks on the throw before it is out of Hundley's hand. He gets to Payton right away and makes the tackle.

8. 3rd and 5, incompletion to Fuller

  • Utah is showing blitz and the RDE is pretty clearly offsides because his helmet and hands are even with the ball. They end up only rushing 4 against a 6-man protection. I only have the TV film, but it looks like UCLA is running twin slants with Thomas Duarte and Devin Fuller both in the slot to the left side. Duarte's is a shallower route at about 3-5 yards and Fuller's is at about 7-10 yards. I think Hundley makes the wrong decison here by going to Fuller, the throw is good enough that he could have caught it but it is a much more difficult play then just dumping it to Duarte and letting the 6'3", 220-ish pound guy fall forward for the 1st.

9. 1st and 10, sacked for a 6 yard loss

  • Utah is showing a blitz from their ILB and he does a delayed blitz right up the middle after the OL have all committed to their men. Perkins stays in, so this is 6 in protection to pick up a 5-man rush.. This is clearly a longer developing passing play. Hundley does that half-pump fake UCLA tends to do on stop-and-go routes down the sideline and that looks to be what Jordan Payton was running at the bottom of the screen.
  • The real issue is Caleb Benenoch being put on skates by Utah's DE Dimick which collapses the pocket inside where the free ILB is coming from. Hundley tries to step up in the pocket, and again keeps his eyes downfield, but Benenoch and the Utah DE are pushed into his chest and Perkins gets driven back at contact by the ILB instead of being able to hold his ground. Hundley has nowhere to go and is brought down for the 2nd sack of the night.
  • This sack is either on the offensive scheme for not having a checkdown option (at least not one visible) or on the offensive line for not being able to pickup a 5-man rush with 6 in protection. Benenoch being beat on the edge isn't all that surprising because he is clearly not an exterior lineman and has shown that regularly over the last two seasons (just let the kid go maul people at guard where he can get some help in pass protection).
  • Another preparation/coaching issue, the Mike linebacker clearly showed blitz pre-snap and Perkins was somehow surprised when he rushed up the middle. Frustrating. In the NFL, you'd see and hear the QB or center identify that. I can't tell if that happened on this play, but it didn't appear to occur.

10. 2nd and 16, interception return for a TD

  • I'm going to get into the awful screen pass that Noel Mazzone continues to dial up despite the 10+ times it has resulted in either a tackle for loss, devastating hit on the running back from behind, or incompletion compared to the maybe three times that it has resulted in a positive outcomes (one of which was against Nevada's 2nd/3rd string defense with Malcolm Jones scoring a TD).
  • This is not a good throw by Hundley, in fact it is a very poor throw because it looks like how you run screens in video games by just making the QB backpedal and hoping the defense chases upfield. Perkins could not have been less sneaky out of the backfield as the playside DT is instantly able to see him and move off his block to eliminate any chance of this gaining yards. The playside DE is not fooled either as Bunche doesn't really do anything resembling blocking to convince the DE that this is anything but a screen.
  • So, there are two men in between Hundley and Perkins (both facing him in the Utah DE and Bunche, neither of whom are small individuals, so he has to lob the ball over them in order to attempt the pass). Even if he were able to throw that near impossible pass, there is a Utah DT right on Perkins' back in better position to make a play on the ball than Perkins.
  • The reason this isn't just an incompletion is that (again) the University of Utah has a functioning film room and the corner is able to break off his coverage to come up and make a play. If this is a perfectly thrown ball and somehow the DT didn't bring down Perkins, then this corner would have had a kill shot on Perkins (which is how this play usually ends). Instead, the ball has a little too much arc on it and falls right into the waiting hands of Tevin Carter as he moseys into the endzone for the first points of the game.

11. 2nd and 7, 28 yard completion to Payton

  • Utah doesn't show blitz and only rushes 4. Perkins stays in to help in the backfield with protection, so it is 6 on 4. Despite those numbers, Kenny Lacy gets beat pretty badly by the younger brother of Star Lotulelei, ending up on his knees as Lowe Lotulelei has essential a free rush up the middle. Despite this, Hundley confidently steps up into the pocket to make this throw down the sideline to Payton. This is such a big league throw and is a big reason why Hundley is going to a better QB in the NFL than he ever will be at UCLA. This type of throw down the sideline in the small window over the top of a corner and in front of a closing safety has so much room for error but this one has perfect touch and power. Payton is actually able to get a yard or two after the catch before the safety is able to push him out of bounds. There are not many people on this planet capable of making that throw in that situation. UCLA has one of them.

12. 2nd and 5, sacked for a 7 yard loss (the 3rd sack of the first quarter, mind you)

  • Utah shows blitz with the ILB pre-snap and I am pretty confident that it was the exact same delayed ILB blitz up the middle that they got a sack on earlier. Jordon James does a much better job identifying this and steps through the pocket to meet the blitz closer to the line of scrimmage. There are 6 men in protection to pick up 5 rushers.
  • Malcolm Bunche just lets Orchard run right past him inside on this play. Maybe he thought he'd get help from Kenny Lacy, but he barely even touches Orchard.
  • He gets there in under 2 seconds.
  • Orchard gets to Hundley like he is about to hit a tackling dummy. UCLA is lucky that Orchard goes for a safe tackle instead of kill shot or else it might have been the Jerry Neuheisel show once again. So far we are 3 for 3 on sacks being solely attributed to the protection up front.

13. 3rd and 12, incompletion to Payton

  • Utah is kind of showing blitz pre-snap from their ILB and ends up sending the LB that wasn't showing pressure. I am pretty sure this isn't a designed blitz though, it only happens because Perkins stays in to help with protection.
  • 6 in protection against what ends up being a 5-man rush.
  • Hundley gets the ball out in 2.2 seconds but Eric Rowe makes a great play on the ball to break up the curl to Payton just beyond the marker. Credit to Rowe on this one, good ball, good protection, good route but better defense.

14. 1st and 10, 4 yard rush by Perkins

  • Just another good decison on a zone read. End stays at home, give to the runner inside for a nice gain.

15. 2nd and 6, completion to Payton for 7 yards

  • Utah doesn't show blitz, only rushes 4. UCLA does a nice job in protection on a quick throw. Utah is in zone, so Payton is able to slip behind a linebacker for a quick hitch. Good ball, quick decision (though it was the first read).

16. 2nd and 6, Hundley rushes for 7 yards

  • Utah shows a 4-man rush and does exactly that, UCLA keeps Perkins in to pass protect and he chips Orchard off the edge. The two linebackers drop beyond the 1st down marker.
  • Hundley looks like he gets through his two reads on the left side and then sees the space in front of him to the right side and takes off for the first while getting to the sideline without being hit.

17. 1st and 10, completion for 8 yards to Nate Iese

  • Utah doesn't show any pressure, and the pass is off too quick to tell exactly what was coming.
  • Iese is at an H-back type of spot and slips into the flats at the snap, Hundley fakes the give to Perkins and flings it to Iese.
  • Duarte and Devin Lucien are to that side blocking on the defensive backs. Lucien does a solid job, but Duarte whiffs on his man. Luckily, Iese is able to break a tackle at the line of scrimmage and pick up 8 on 1st down. I believe that is the first time I've seen him break a tackle in space outside of practice.

18. 1st and Goal, 4-yard TD run by Paul Perkins

  • This is actually a zone read on more of a stretch type of play, where Hundley is reading the linebackers instead of an edge lineman. Hundley carries out the fake an extra step as the play widens. This freezes the linebackers long enough for Perkins to be able to get to the corner after the handoff and power his way through a safety instead of a safety and a linebacker. Sneaky savvy play by Hundley.

19. 1st and 10, 7 yard run by Perkins

  • Zone read, correct decision and a nice gain on 1st down.

20. 2nd and 3, 2 yard run by Perkins

  • This is the first zone read (though it wasn't a traditional zone read because Nate Iese tries to block Orchard) where I am not 100% on it being the right decision to give inside. I think a 100% Hundley keeps it as there and tries to make a safety miss in space or at least get the 3 yards easily. There might not have been an option on this play though, perhaps Hundley is just carrying out a fake to keep the defense honest.

21. 3rd and 1, completion to Payton for 10 yards

  • Utah is showing blitz with their inside linebacker on the offensive right side in Nickel. The Utes end up bringing 6.
  • UCLA actually rolls Hundley out of the pocket on this play to the left, which I admit I totally forgot about occurring. Brendel gets beat by the RILB on the blitz, so if this weren't a rollout this would have been sack #4 and a 3-and-out for the offense.
  • Payton is really the only option on this play, but he's open and Hundley hits him in stride on an out route for an easy 1st down.
  • Props to Mazzone for the playcall here. Big fan of this and it should be incorporated far more often to offset blitzes.

22. 2nd and 10, completion to Devin Lucien for 15 yards

  • Utah shows blitz off the edge with their Nickel back and they actually bring both the Nickel back (who was over Nate Iese) and the cornerback to that side (on Payton) and drop the opposite side DE into zone coverage. Both Perkins and Iese stay in to pass protect, so there are 7 in protection (also known as Max Protect) to pick up a 5-man rush but a complex blitz package.
  • Payton recognizes the blitz off the corner and does the proper thing in turning around for a hot route if Hundley needs it.
  • He doesn't need it though as his first reads are to the opposite side of the blitz, where the DE is dropping into a zone and looking lost as hell backpedaling.
  • Lucien is running a slant from the slot on the wide side of the field, so there is a lot of space in between the cornerback over him (but responsible for the flats) and the DE (responsible for the middle of the field). Lucien gets inside of the corner and Hundley hits him right away in stride allowing for a little YAC.

23. 1st and 10, fumbled snap by Hundley, recovered by Hundley for a loss of 4.

  • This is a momentum zapper that happened because Hundley rushed the process of receiving the snap. This looked like the play from earlier where Iese got the ball in the flats, and it was a better look for the offense on this play as the defensive backs were playing about 8 yards off.

24. 2nd and 14, sacked for a 1-yard loss by Nate Orchard

  • Utah isn't showing blitz and they only rush 4. Paul Perkins stays in to help with pass protection, so it is 6 in protection on 4 defenders.
  • Caleb Benenoch again gets beat at the snap as he makes this random Utah DE look like Anthony Barr bending around the edge. Gets there in under 2 seconds. Hundley steps up in the pocket through that attempt at a sack by the DE and keeps his eyes downfield initially.
  • The reason why this sack ends up happening though, in my opinion, is because of an idiotic protection concept. Nate Orchard is an NFL pass rusher. Paul Perkins is a barely average pass blocker. Why is Perkins being asked to pick up Orchard 1-on-1? Ever. It is insane that this was allowed to happen. If you're 5th year senior Malcolm Bunche and there is no blitz being shown, why are you sliding inside to take a DT? There wasn't a stunt on this play. Have Lacy handle the DT and help with the All-American DE.
  • Hundley tries to step up through the pocket and if there was someone over 200 pounds blocking Orchard, he probably is able to get the ball to an open Nate Iese who would have been his very last read on the opposite side of the field. He isn't and Orchard is able to shed Perkins to get the sack.
  • Still yet to see a play where Hundley drops his eyes in this game.

25. 3rd and 15, sacked for a 6-yard loss by Justin Thomas

  • Utah is showing blitz off the edge with one of their LBs. Hundley should have flipped Perkins to the side where the pressure was showing. Utah ends up bring 7 (one LB off the edge, a corner from the same edge and a LB inside) on this play and UCLA only has 6 in protection, with the RB out of position and having to cut across the formation to help.
  • I don't have the All-22 film on this, but there had to have been something open on that side where the pressure was coming from. There were two DBs playing off coverage on 3 WRs. The inside slot whose corner blitzed looked to be running a slant, which would have been wide open because both LBs blitzed.
  • That player clearly isn't looking for the ball though, which is just bizarre because the man covering him blitzed. It is a basic concept that if your man blitzes then you have to expect the ball right away.
  • This is one where I don't think Hundley recognized the blitz pre-snap. If he had, he moves Perkins to the pressure side and starts his reads inside instead of with the WR furthest outside to the left. He doesn't drop his eyes on this play until it is clear he's going to be sacked, but the recognition of what to do needs to be better.
  • Kudos to Utah for the jailbreak blitz. Putting this one much more on Hundley and the inside slot wide receiver than on the offensive line. No way to pick up 7 with 6. Holding on Benenoch gets declined here, for reference.
  • This series of plays (fumbled snap, sack, sack) is just as bad as the series later in the game with 3 straight sacks and indirectly led to a FG try for the Utes. They should not have gotten the ball back in the half with a chance to score.

That is the first half of play. Not quite as bleak as it would seem, 5 sacks, 4 on the offensive line (all on the tackles and Perkins' weird role in the protection schemes) and 1 on Hundley and a WR for not being in sync with what to do on hot routes.

Let's get to the 2nd half and see what occurred.

26. 1st and 10, completion to Iese for 6 yards

  • After 4 straight runs by Jordon James for 26 yards, the Utes totally buy the play fake to James inside. Both linebackers bite up and the DE ducks inside. This could have been a much bigger play but Thomas Duarte gets driven back by a DB who is able to get to the edge and force Iese out of bounds.

27. 3rd and 3, sacked for a 3 yard loss (moved UCLA to 2-7 on 3rd downs, not conducive to success)

  • Utah does not show blitz and they only rush 4.
  • It is a single high safety look, so it looked like man coverage across the board with two linebackers underneath to stop the quick routes and the safety staying deep in the middle. The linebacker to the right side of the offense jumps outside right away to take away the quick hitch that UCLA runs so often against man converage. Really great defensive design to counteract the predictable play call here.
  • Benenoch gets driven back, which collapses the pocket from the right side. Quessenberry gets driven back 4 yards off the line of scrimmage by his man with a little help late from Nathan Starks, which collapses the middle of the pocket. Lacy and Bunche get split by Orchard, which essentially collapses the pocket from the left side.
  • Once the first read is taken away by the flashing linebacker, (Note: A worse QB probably throws that quick hitch for an interception.) Hundley's pocket has collapsed and he tries to escape through the middle but the small gap closes.
  • Put this sack on the offensive line and the Utah defensive coordinator. Again, they clearly have a functional film-room at the University of Utah. I'm amazed teams don't jump on the 3rd down quick hitches to the sideline more often, UCLA runs it so often.
  • The ESPN commentator is absolutely oblivious to what happened on this play, instantly blaming Hundley for not throwing the quick hitch that would have resulted in an interception due to a linebacker jumping the route.

28. 2nd and 12, Hundley rushes for 11 yards

  • Utah shows no blitz, but bring an ILB to either blitz on a delay or pick up Jordon James out of the backfield. He ends up picking up James. It is 4-man rush with a 5-man OL.
  • Malcolm Bunche gets abused by Nate Orchard and gives up the inside basically right at the snap. Hundley has no time to do anything but make an All-American DE miss and pick up 11 yards on his own.
  • ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL SPOT ON THIS PLAY. AT LEAST TWO YARDS SHORT. He's a yard past the marker when his knee hits and the refs spots him a full yard short of the first down. Pac-12 refs on display there.

29. 2nd and 11, Hundley rushes for 9 yards

  • Utah does not show pressure, but brings one ILB and has the other LB tail Jordon James out of the backfield.
  • 5-man rush with 5 in protection.
  • Caleb Benenoch gets beaten on the outside and should have been called for a hold. Scott Quessenberry is extremely late in picking up the ILB blitzing to his side, so that is essentially a free rush on Hundley.  Bunche and Lacy do a nice job picking up a twist on the other side and Brendel locks down Lotulelei 1-on-1.
  • Hundley makes both guys miss despite both being right in front of him and scrambles for a nice game.

30. 2nd and 10, no play, incompletion to Myles Jack that ended up being intercepted but there was a roughing the passer penalty so UCLA got a 1st down.

  • This is the most unique play that UCLA has run out of the Full House Defensive Formation.
  • Alex Van Dyke is wide to the left with Kenny Walker to the right.
  • Utah does not show blitz and they end up kind of rushing 5 but one of those was trying to stop the run fake. There's a ton of time for Hundley to get rid of this ball and it looked like Van Dyke was going to be insanely open on this play.
  • Hundley goes to Myles Jack out of the backfield on a wheel route for what would have been an easy TD if Jack had not tripped. He trips as the ball still hits him in the chest, kicks it up into the hands of a Utah defender.
  • Saving grace was the Utah defense being unable to resist hitting Hundley after he'd thrown the ball.
  • ESPN announcers are totally oblivious to what had happened despite the loud cheers from the UCLA crowd clearly indicating a positive result for the Bruins. These guys were atrocious in this game.

31. 2nd and 8, 17 yard completion to Lucien

  • Utah showing blitz from their entire front 6 essentially out of Nickel. UCLA has Perkins in to help with protection.
  • Utes end up rushing all 6, line gives Hundley time and Perkins does a heroic job stalemating Nate Orchard 1-on-1.
  • Mazzone has 4 WR all running deep routes, Hundley take the 1-on-1 with Lucien to the left side where there is no safety help or other WRs to get in the way. Throws a back shoulder ball down the sidelinethat only Lucien could get to and he makes an exceptional catch that was nearly a TD, but ended up being just short of the pylon.

32. 2nd and 10, incompletion to Payton

  • Utah is showing blitz with a 3-man line. End up rushing a slot corner over Devin Fuller.
  • Another example of UCLA blitz pickup concepts being bizarre and ineffective. Malcolm Bunche slides down inside for some reason at LT despite two blitzers being outside. Perkins picks up the inside blitzer and the slot corner has a free path to Hundley.
  • Hundley does the right thing given that the slot corner got there unimpeded by trying to get it to Payton on a quick slant to that vacated area. The ball is low and quick due to the blitz, so Payton can't bring it in. Not a bad ball, not Hundley's best though.
  • If Hundley has an extra half second to wait on Devin Fuller on this play it is a TD. He was running a wheel route (this is the play that UCLA scored on later in the game) and the safety got picked on the slant. If they don't blitz, I'm pretty confident that this would have been a TD also. The play was well designed and was going to work whenever it was called.

33. 3rd and 10, sacked for a 8 yard loss

  • One play after UCLA's bizarre blitz pickup concept likely cost the Bruins a touchdown, the Utes end the drive with their 7th sack of the day with another bizarre protection concept on the offensive line.
  • UCLA goes under center for the first time in the game on a key 3rd down in the 4th quarter. Nate Iese is in at basically a fullback spot with James in the backfield. Both stay in to pass protect.
  • Utah shows blitz from their ILB right in the A gap. It is a bluff, they rush 4 and have 7 in coverage against 3 routes. James and Iese stay in, so it is 7 in protection against a 4-man rush.
  • This is 100% a coverage sack, but Hundley isn't able to escape to scramble because Nate Orchard is being blocked by James and Iese instead of (just an idea) an offensive lineman. Jake Brendel doesn't block anyone on this play and actually runs right past Orchard as he sheds Iese to make the sack.
  • I think Utah just outsmarted UCLA here. I can't see the routes, but it is extraordinarily likely that 7 Utah DBs were able to cover up 3 UCLA WRs. Utah's DL collapsed the pocket and gave Hundley no escape on the ground.
  • Again the ESPN announcer is a cretan on this play, saying that Hundley locks on to Payton before even seeing a replay. Then, when the field level replay clearly shows Hundley's head moving with his eyes downfield and switching as he goes through the 3 options downfield. The announcer then just pretends like he is right anyway despite clearly seeing that he jumped to an incorrect conclusion. F that dude.

34. 2nd and 9, TD pass to Devin Fuller for 93 yards

  • This is the play that was missed earlier due to the weird pass protection concept that the OL was throwing out there. It worked much better this time.
  • Utah is showing blitz with their 2 LBs but it is a bluff from both. It is a 4-man rush against 6 in protection. Lowe Lotulelei actually drives Brendel right into Hundley's lap but Hundley steps into his throw.
  • The slot corner over Fuller gets caught looking in the backfield instead of doing his job, the switch goes very rough between him and the outside corner.
  • Hundley delivers a perfect ball 30 yards down the sideline and hits Fuller in stride, all he has to do is beat Utah's single high safety and that guy takes a less than ideal angle to force Fuller out of bounds.
  • Great playcall, great execution.

35. 1st and 10, sacked for a 6 yard loss

  • Utah is showing blitz with their ILB, it is a bluff and they only rushed 4 when UCLA had 5 to protect.
  • Malcolm Bunche gets beat around the edge by Orchard and Hundley is sacked in a little over 2 seconds.

36. 2nd and 16, sacked for a 5 yard loss

  • Utah doesn't show blitz and only rushes 4 while UCLA had 5 in to protect. Although they are out of a no RB set, which I do not recall seeing this season.
  • Hundley's first read is Payton, who looks to be covered up. Then he has Nate Iese in the flat, but he is covered by a Utah LB. His next read looks to be the pair of Massington and Fuller running crossing routes at different levels. He also has Lucien coming open on a drag route, but he needs a window to make that throw, so he tries to step up through the pocket and is brought down by a looping DT (explained below).
  • While that is happening, the DT and DE to the left side of the offense run a really simple twist that completely fools the trio of Brendel, Lacy and Bunche. The DE engages Bunche and then pulls him inside toward Lacy and Brendel. The DT simply loops around Bunche (this is why defensive linemen do that drill where they run in circles around a hoop) and crashes from behind Hundley as he is stepping up in the pocket.
  • Caleb Benenoch is also driven back by the LDE on this play, which collapses the pocket even further on Hundley, who might have had a chance to escape if not for Benenoch getting driven into him.

37. 3rd and 21, sacked for a 9 yard loss

  • Utah does not show blitz pre-snap, but they bring both LBs to the A-gaps and run a twist inside with that pair. They also bring their safety up the lane created by the LBs blitzing. This is a 7-man rush with 6 in to protect.
  • Hundley has to get rid of the ball here. Fuller is left uncovered by the blitzing safety and that is where the ball should have gone right away.
  • Is there any chance that Fuller get a 1st down and 3rd and 21? No. Not really. But if he gets the 15 yards that the defense was giving up with this blitz, then Mengel isn't punting out of the endzone and Utah doesn't start their drive in UCLA territory. Have to sometimes accept a loss on the small battles in order to win the bigger battle.
  • I understand what Hundley is doing here, he wants the first down and if he waits another second, Fuller might have a shot to get all 21 instead of just 10. He wants to escape to his left, but there is a LB waiting there and he freezes knowing that he's going to get sacked.

38. 1st and 10, completion to Payton for 9 yards

  • Utah is showing blitz off of the edge with a LB, he doesn't come and Hundley hits Payton on the quick hitch for a nice gain on first down. Easy play to start a drive.

39.1st and 10, Hundley rushes for 3 yards

  • Utah shows blitz off the edge again with a LB, the LB doesn't come and actually acts as a spy on Hundley. That is not a look that happened too often in this game and it caught Hundley off guard. Nice job to get the short gain and protect the ball.

40. 2nd and 7, incompletion to Massington

  • No blitz shown or delivered. The LB is shadowing the RB out of the backfield.
  • Bunche gets beaten by Orchard around the edge very quickly once again.
  • Hundley fires a pass just barely long for Massington down the sideline in that corner/safety window.

41. 3rd and 7, 40-yard TD pass to Massington

  • Utah shows blitz pre-snap and brings 7 to get after Hundley.
  • Mazzone has a great play dialed up, and Hundley hits Massington down the sideline again for a huge TD pass to give UCLA the lead.
  • This was an incredibly clutch drive and throw by Hundley after the previous drive went disastrously bad with 3 sacks.

42. 1st and 10, completion to Payton for 10 yards

  • Utah shows no pressure, rushes 4 with 6 in to protect.
  • Hundley fires another strike to Payton for a 1st down.

43. 1st and 10, completion to Payton for 7 yards

  • Pretty much the exact same play and situation as before.
  • Another good throw.

44. 2nd and 3, Hundley rushes for 7 yards

  • 4 man rush. Hundley takes off up the middle to get the first down and gets every to the line quickly to spike the ball. Only one second runs off on the spike. Lots of poise and leadership here.

45. 2nd and 10, completion to Fuller for 5 yards

  • Only have 7 seconds, this pass has to be quick, accurate and to the sideline.
  • Hundley delivers on all 3 of those to give UCLA a shot at a FG attempt.

So there you have it, we can quibble about some of the conclusions I came to on individual plays, but for the most part Hundley balled out in this game despite a dreadful game from both offensive tackles, a intelligent defensive gameplan against him and a disciplined and sneaky talented defensive unit.

If the UCLA defense hadn't suddenly imploded on that final drive, I would not have even needed to write this article. Sports are inherently fickle. I know this, you all know this, anyone who watches or reads about sports news knows this.

None of us actually blame Hundley for that loss, but not enough of us are praising Hundley for the fact that UCLA even had a chance to win that game despite all the failures during the game.

For all the flack that this blog catches for being overly critical, I am guaranteeing that nowhere else in the country are you going to find someone to go through the trouble of really finding out what went on during each play of the devastating loss to the Utah Utes last Saturday night.

I am not saying that Brett Hundley is a technician in the pocket because he isn't at this point. He probably won't ever resemble Peyton Manning with his poise and ability to break a defense down twice before the ball is even snapped.

But some people are trying to say he's closer to Tim Tebow in the pocket than he is to an NFL QB. That thought offends me as a person who is passionate about the game of football.

We can disagree about things. That is why sports are great. Even though I just spent hours going through tape of a game I didn't play in, I could be wrong.

If I'm wrong, you are welcome to blame me.

But don't blame Brett Hundley, that's what the worst kind of fan does.