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Anthony Barr, Brett Hundley bring UCLA back to prominence

Bruce Thorson/ USA TODAY Sports - Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports
QB Brett Hundley and LB Anthony Barr led the Bruins to a comeback win over Nebraska on Saturday.

Whether they are playing offense or defense this season, the UCLA Bruins will always have one player on the field who can take over a game.

When they do so at the same time, UCLA can be dominant.

Nebraska found that out over the weekend, but given the way QB Brett Hundley and LB Anthony Barr are performing, something tells me the Cornhuskers will not be the last ones to get schooled by UCLA's top two playmakers.

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Hundley, a redshirt sophomore with only 16 college starts under his belt, is emerging as a Heisman candidate, and if there is a better linebacker in college football than Barr, someone point him out, please.

I don't expect any takers on that one, though.

UCLA rallied from a 21-3 second-quarter deficit to score 38 unanswered points at Nebraska in a 41-21 win, and Hundley was the leader of the comeback.

He threw an early pick vs. the Huskers, but he didn't fold. He didn't come close to throwing another pick and finished with 294 yards passing and three touchdowns. He rushed for 61 yards, too.

Hundley's poise and his maturity are growing with each game. He's developed physically. He is more thickly built this year, but I don't see any loss of speed. That tells me he put a lot of work in during the offseason. He can make every throw. He loves the game and has a tremendous work ethic.

I think he's everything NFL teams are looking for in a quarterback. He's mobile, but he's very accurate throwing the ball, too. It used to be that a quarterback would offer one or the other in his style of play. Now teams are demanding and getting both.

I don't see any deficiencies in Hundley's game. He has good height, and he's not skinny (6-foot-3, 222 pounds). His arm isn't a pop gun -- he has plenty of strength.

When I watch him play, he reminds of one of the NFL's brightest young stars -- San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. In fact, I think Hundley is much more polished as a passer at this stage of his career than Kaepernick was at Nevada. Hundley doesn't run as well as Kaepernick, but he's a good runner; he's a pass-first quarterback that can run.

As for Barr, the Bruins' senior linebacker, it's starting to look like the only thing that can slow him down a bit is the coaching film review; this week, the UCLA coaches took two away of the three forced fumbles Barr was credited with in the Nebraska game.

With head coach Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Lou Spanos making the calls at UCLA, Barr is being coached by guys with an NFL background. Part of the reason I think those fumbles were wiped out by the coaches is that they don't give players anything cheap at UCLA and they coach their great players harder than they coach their other players.

If you take that coaching correctly, you're going to be a great player, and I think Barr is on his way to being in that category.

What's really impressive about Barr is that even when an offense game-plans for him, he can still dominate. He can blitz and make a play. He can drop into coverage and hurt an offense. Barr can be disruptive in every facet of the game.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.



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