Hundley ready to take hits prior to UCLA football’s Virginia matchup

It’s been eight months and 26 days since Brett Hundley has taken a hit.

Not since UCLA’s 42-12 Sun Bowl win over Virginia Tech on Dec. 31, when he was sacked twice, has the redshirt junior quarterback been placed on his back.

In the spring and fall camps since then, Hundley and the quarterbacks have donned first red, then yellow no-contact jerseys, meaning any defensive player who gets over-excited on a pass rush in scrimmage will regret doing so.

But although the Bruins are looking to protect their most valuable asset, Hundley is still itching to take off the yellow jersey; he won’t be wearing it against Virginia on Saturday after all.

So after three weeks of no contact in training camp, Hundley said he’s ready to mix things up, indicating he might ask some linebackers to get some hits in on him on Wednesday.

When faced with an opposing Virginia defense that has no intention of going easy on him, Hundley said he’s not too worried about adjusting to full-contact football.

“You get acclimated real quick when there’s 300 pounders hitting you,” Hundley said.

But Hundley’s goal, and an area he’s improved upon, is not getting hit in the first place.

During his redshirt freshman year, Hundley at times looked indecisive when faced with pressure, unsure whether to throw the ball away or to scramble. The result was taking 52 sacks on the year – the most of any quarterback in the nation.

As a redshirt sophomore last season, Hundley was a noticeably improved decision maker, learning to use his feet more effectively. He took 17 fewer sacks, while also running for a team-high 748 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Now in his third year as a starter, Hundley said his growth at the position and improved communication with teammates should further help him avoid taking hits.

“I think experience is gonna come this season and those sacks that you saw, Brett’s not gonna be sitting back there waiting and being kinda shy to throw it,” said redshirt junior wide receiver Devin Lucien. “He’s just either gonna take off or throw it to one of his great receivers that’s out there”

Virginia secondary not second rate

Those “great receivers” that Lucien spoke of will have some challenges of their own Saturday, as they go up against a highly regarded Virginia secondary.

“They’re extremely athletic,” said junior wide receiver Jordan Payton. “It’s definitely gonna be fun, especially for us receivers taking on this big challenge. They got a lot of veterans back there. They’re big and they’re lanky.”

Leading the pack for the Cavaliers is senior safety Anthony Harris, who led the nation with eight interceptions last season en route to being named to the All-ACC first team and a Sports Illustrated first team All-American.

With a constant threat for interceptions lurking down the field, UCLA’s receivers will need to make some slight adjustments to prevent turnovers.

“Now you’re looking at a guy who plays almost like a receiver at safety, so you definitely have to play the ball more and be a little bit more aggressive coming back to the ball,” Payton said.

The Bruin receivers certainly aren’t shying away from the challenge, however, as Payton, Lucien and redshirt freshman Eldridge Massington all expressed their excitement about going against a talented defender in Harris.

But for Lucien, it seemed almost personal.

“Usually when you have eight picks in a season it means you’re a ball hog. And I’m a ball hog, which means he’s trying to take the ball away from me, and I cant let that happen,” Lucien said.

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