Hundley Will Be a Handful
The Nebraska defense will face a tough challenge against UCLA this week. Not only did the Bruins light up Rice last weekend, but they did it with a dual-threat quarterback. In many ways, it appears the Huskers are set to face their own offense. There's the familiar zone read option and the Bruins throw the ball to the tight end. But there are also some differences. First, Hundley is a big guy. He's built more like Imani Cross than Taylor Martinez. Also,the Bruins threw a lot of passes to their backs in the opener, while NU seems more apt to look downfield.
Hundley certainly got people's attention with his 72-yard touchdown run to start the game at Rice. He was then sacked twice and his remaining four carries netted just three yards. He rushed for a bunch of yards in high school, but that may not translate real well to college. The question remains whether Hundley will truly hurt NU with his legs or whether that single big play that was well blocked against a bad Rice defense really means anything. You also wonder how much of an NFL mentality exists on the UCLA staff. Pro football has generally shunned designed runs for the quarterback. They don't want to see such a critical player get injured and the speedy NFL defenses are good at minimizing the damage from quarterback rushes anyway. Will that be Mora's mindset? Especially since Hundley was accurate with his passes.
The way to handle Hundley may not be all about defense anyway. One telling statistic for Nebraska under Bo Pelini is that the Huskers haven't lost a game in which they've scored at least 35 points. NU may not keep UCLA from scoring, but they can possess the ball and put together scoring drives to limit opportunities for the Bruins. If Taylor Martinez can stay as hot as he's been and the offensive line can continue to avoid penalties, then that may ultimately be the recipe for victory. It's all about efficiency.
If the NU offense is effective, Pelini can continue to keep his safeties deep on defense to slow things down, even if the Bruins are having success running the ball and throwing underneath. That can at least take away the big play and give the Husker D a chance to make plays when the field gets smaller in the red zone. Expect to see a lot points scored on Saturday. And just hope that the experience of Martinez can trump the younger Hundley on his home field.