Fentress 3 and Out: UCLA
EUGENE – Many have searched for challenges, invented or real, that No. 2 Oregon might contend with each week.
Most have proven to be more nuisance than challenge for the Ducks (7-0, 4-0) during their tour of destruction.
Next up: UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley.
Now we’re talking. Maybe.
At the beginning of the season many NFL Draft prognosticators pegged the 6-foot-3, 222-pound sophomore as a better professional prospect than UO’s Marcus Mariota. That has changed for the most part since Mariota has became a front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy while Hundley has been plagued by inconsistent play.
But one thing is for certain, Hundley will be the most gifted quarterback Oregon will have faced this season come Saturday when the two teams kickoff at 4 p.m. at Autzen Stadium.
“I don’t think he’s as fast as Marcus,” UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “But he might be. He’s a real strong guy. He’s elusive…he can make some plays with his feet and extend plays and whenever a quarterback can do that, just like our guy, it’s tough.”
Like Mariota, Hundley is operating in a zone-read offense. But his numbers pale in comparison.
“Up-tempo should not bother us because we practice against up-tempo all of the time,” Aliotti said.
Hundley has a better completion percentage (66.8 to 62.4) but Mariota has him in every other category: Touchdown passes (19-13), interceptions (0 to six), passing yards (2,051 to 1,661), rushing yards (493 to 287) and rushing touchdowns (nine to three).
That said, Hundley has other issues to contend with. His offensive line is banged up and the team must recover from a poor showing last week in a 24-10 loss at No. 8 Stanford.
Hundley had his worst performance of the season, completing 24 of 39 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
Oregon’s defense has been just about as dominant as Stanford’s, posing great problems for UCLA (5-1, 2-1).
“We do some things that are similar to Stanford but not a lot,” Aliotti said. “We do what we do on defense because that’s what we know. That allows us to play fast.”
The last quarterback Oregon face that received plenty of pre-game hype was Washington’s Keith Price. The Ducks rattled him during a 45-24 win in Seattle.
Aliotti said Hundley and Price are comparable talents.
“Except for (Hundley) is bigger and thicker,” Aliotti said. “So he’ll be a guy you’ve really got to wrap up and bring down.”
He’s also not alone. UCLA running back Jordan James leads the team with 463 yards on 74 carries. Hundley has several quality targets in wide receivers Shaquelle Evans and Devin Fuller.
“You start with Hundley but they also have a good running game, and they have good receiver because they have good athletes,” Aliotti said.