This past season we have seen a lot of finger pointing and scapegoating of UCLA's record-setting quarterback. But as you see in IE Angel's post in which he threaded together an analysis of Hundley's game from respectable NFL draft evaluation sources, blaming Hundley for this disappointing season misses the mark. So what would have happened if Hundley were operating an offense under a head coach with a great offensive coaching staff and an experienced quarterback's coach?
We started asking those questions among the front-pagers a few weeks ago while watching the Ohio State Buckeyes dismantle a good Wisconsin Badgers team in the Big-10 championship with a third string quarterback. Here were some of the responses:
How do you think Brett Hundley would have performed if he were operating the OSU's Urban Meyer offense?
AHMB: Ohio St. would win the national championship. Hundley would fit Meyer's offense perfectly. Add him to that defense, and you've got a team that can beat Alabama and Oregon.
Bellerophon: Under Urban Meyer, Brett Hundley would be a college star unlike any we've seen in some time. Look at what he's done at UCLA, hampered by one of the worst offensive lines in the country (no one got sacked more than Hundley) and an unimaginative offensive coaching staff and a glorified water boy/intern as his QB coach, while taking on one of the toughest conference schedules in the country. Now, send him to Ohio State, let him go again LOL-worthy Big Ten competition and give him the kind of real coaching staff that Urban Meyer would provide and you would have a kid who would be putting up insane numbers and walking away with the Heisman. It's not even a close call for me. Hundley is a special college talent and for the most part, we never capitalized on that in Westwood.
uclaluv: Under Urban Meyer, Brett would have been a Heisman contender. Look at Tim Tebow in college vs. the pros. Tim was not great. However, under Meyer he was. Look at how well their 3rd string QB did. The offense failed Brett. The QB coach failed Brett.
Are JT Barrett and Cardale Jones better quarterbacks than Hundley?
Bellerophon: No, neither one is better than Hundley. J.T. Barrett is going to be a special player, but if you put him in Westwood, he'd suffer under Mazzone's "coaching" or lack thereof.
uclaluv: Duh! No, hell no. No way. That was an easy one.
Do you think either Asianti Woulard or Jerry Neuheisel would have been able to operate the UCLA offense with same efficiency over the course of multiple games if Hundley had suffered a longer injury (than the one he suffered against Texas)?
AHMB: No, but I don't think Barrett or Jones could have done as well in the Pac-12 either. The B1G was garbage this year, and that aided Barrett's development. I don't know about Woulard because I've never seen him play, but I think Neuheisel would have been ok. I don't think he has the arm strength to play at a high level all season, nor does he have Hundley's running ability, but he knows the offense and probably would've been solid.
From what I saw of Woulard in HS, he has a cannon and can run. But he played one season at QB, so who knows if he'll ever be an option. The fact that he didn't beat out Neuheisel for #2 worries me. I would definitely say that Ohio St. was in a better position with Barrett and Jones backing up Miller than we were with Neuheisel and Woulard behind Hundley.
Bellerophon: I think the world of Jerry Neuheisel - he's one of my favorite all-time Bruins. The kid is just a class act and he is everything that UCLA is all about. But let's be honest - he's a back-up QB at best and his talent limits what he could do. His arm strength is average (at best) and he doesn't have the mobility to extend plays that Hundley has. He's capable of making nice throws (see that beautiful touch pass for a TD to Jordan Payton against Texas), but without Hundley, this offense sputters and dies.
As for Asianti Woulard, it should be concerning that a highly-ranked QB recruit was brought in to essentially be Hundley's understudy and he is unable to unseat Jerry Neuheisel as the primary back-up. Maybe the kid just isn't cut out for QB - perhaps a position change to WR is in the future - but I'd be more willing to bet that Woulard has stagnated because our QB coach is a family hire with no qualification for the job. Just like the basketball program, nepotism can have major negative impacts.
uclaluv: Nope. I think neither is as skilled nor as polished. I agree with everything Brad said. Asianti should be better than he is by now. But in the little I saw of him in spring and fall camp, he was very inconsistent.
Are you confident that UCLA quarterbacks (without Hundley) are going to produce at the same level next year as an average Hundley season (average of last three years)?
AHMB: Yes, but I think Mazzone's offense will always put up good numbers. It's a very QB friendly offense, and when Mazzone gets in a rhythm calling plays, it racks up yards in a hurry. Unfortunately, when it gets out of rhythm it gets ugly, but that's another topic altogether.
Bellerophon: Not really. I don't think people really yet appreciate that Hundley has bailed this team out in a major way. Perhaps Rosen is the real deal, the second coming of Peyton Manning, maybe. But it's a huge maybe and I'd be hard pressed to say that a true freshman is going to product at the same level redshirt junior super-stud QB Brett Hundley.
uclaluv: No. I think Rosen might be a spectacular talent but he will be operating at a whole different level (if he gets the job) than he has been. Who is going to show him how to handle it? I think much of Brett's development was initiated by Brett, taking his own future into his own hands. I think Rosen (or ?) will have a better, more experienced line in front of him, and more experienced players everywhere on the field. But the teaching that needs to take place to be able to operate the offense efficiently will be non-existent.
I actually wonder if Hundley got some real education from Rick Neuheisel in terms of thinking as a QB. And then of course, his own work off-season which I think is really what helped him this year. I imagine it's a lot like being out there on an island trying to figure it out with idiot Mazzones doing nothing to help you think it through.
Thanks to AHMB, Bellerophon and uclaluv for their answers. We could ask the same questions substituting names like Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich, Gus Malzahn, Dan Mullen or number of other talent head coaches or offensive coordinators who have dotted the national college football landscape.
What are your responses if you had to answer those questions. We'd love to read your thoughts in the comment thread.