Brett Hundley Odds to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy
by Dave Schwab - 7/16/2014
The UCLA Bruins have posted a winning record in the Pac-12 the past three seasons and they won the South Division title in 2012, but they continue to live in the shadow of the more dominant teams in the conference that reside in the North Division of the Pac-12.
Their main chance to break through this season and legitimately contend for a conference title could rest on the shoulders, and more importantly the throwing arm, of junior quarterback Brett Hundley. He is widely considered one of the top pro prospects heading into this season, and Bovada has set his most recent odds to win this year's Heisman Trophy at 16/1.
Hundley did not even finish in the top 10 of the past two Heisman voting ballots, but he has the potential for a breakout season given the numbers he has put up in his first two years as the Bruins' starter. In 2012, he completed 319-of-479 attempts for 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns for an overall rating of 147.7. UCLA went 9-5 that season and 6-3 in conference play.
While his overall numbers dropped off a bit in 2013 with just 3,071 yards passing and 24 touchdown throws, his actual rating went up to 153.7 on the strength of a completion rate of 67.2 percent and just nine interceptions verses the 11 he tossed the season before. Hundley also did a much better job at exploiting his ability to use his legs to move the ball downfield last season with 748 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 160 attempts for an average of 4.7 yards a carry.
Hundley has the prototypical size and speed to be a top pro prospect at 6-foot-3, 227 lbs., with a 4.64 average speed in the 40, and his decision making skills continued to improve as the season progressed last year. Widely regarded as the third-best quarterback in college football heading into the 2014 season, he is in excellent position make a legitimate run at this year's Heisman as long as he continues to develop in the right direction.
The one drawback to putting up some really big numbers this season could be the loss of his top receiver in 2013, Shaq Evans, who is now a member of the New York Jets. Wide receiver Devin Fuller will be back after catching 43 balls for 471 yards and one touchdown in 2013. Also back is wide receiver Jordan Payton, who was third on the team in receptions last season with 38 for 440 yards. The Bruins' passing offense was ranked 45th in the nation in yards per game with 251.8.
To gain the early attention of the Heisman voters, Hundley will need a quick start out of the gate in UCLA's season opener on the road against the ACC's Virginia Cavaliers. The Bruins will face Memphis at home in Week 2 before going back on the road for a huge showdown against Texas on Sept.13. This game should provide an excellent opportunity to build some solid momentum for a Heisman run heading into Pac-12 play.
The Bruins' conference schedule gets underway on Thursday, Sept. 25 with a road game against last season's Pac-12 South Division champ Arizona State, but the date that is probably circled on a number of Heisman Trophy voters' calendars is an Oct.11 showdown at home against Oregon. This matchup will pit Hundley against one of his biggest competitors for this award with Ducks' quarterback Marcus Mariota coming to town. Mariota is currently Bovada's second-favorite to win the Heisman on its futures board with betting odds of 11/2.
A strong showing into November would set the stage for a big finish with back-to-back home games against USC and Stanford to close out the regular season. Hundley could be a solid sleeper at 16/1, but given the high level of competition he is facing for this year's Heisman it will probably only take one bad performance in any of the games mentioned above to derail his chances.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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