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UCLA QB Brett Hundley steers clear of draft discussion

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora tried to goad quarterback Brett Hundley into announcing he would return next season in front of a national television audience after downing archrival USC, 35-14, Saturday.

Hundley would have none of it. "He tried to jump me there," a smiling Hundley said afterward.

Hundley said he would not make a decision on whether he would enter the 2014 NFL Draft or return to school until after the Bruins' bowl game, echoing the sentiments of Trojans star wide receiver Marqise Lee.

"It is going to be a big decision," Hundley said. "I have got to sit down and think about it.

"I'm really confident in my abilities," he added later. "But I still have to look at the opportunities and make a decision."

If it was Hundley's last regular-season game at UCLA, he left scouts with a more favorable impression, especially in regard to his pocket presence. After being sacked nine times in a loss to Arizona State last week -- taking his total to a whopping 83 sacks in 25 career games -- Hundley was sacked just twice by a talented USC front seven.

"He hung in there," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "It's not untypical for a lot of quarterbacks, you go through your little dips in your career. What we forget is his supporting cast, back and forth with a lot of kinds in there, and young offensive linemen. I think he did a good job tonight of just making great decisions and getting the ball out of his hand quickly and feeling the rush more than seeing the rush."

The night did not start well for the Bruins, with Hundley taking a sack on the second play of the game and true freshman right tackle Caleb Benenoch being ejected on UCLA's second offensive possession for throwing a punch.

"I kept asking the official if he would throw me out of the game, too," Mazzone joked. "I wanted to go to the locker room with Caleb."

But Hundley responded with the poise he had been lacking for much of the season. He rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, much of that yardage coming on scrambles after the USC pass rush lost containment, and he showed a willingness to move on to the next play.

"That was a big thing with Brett," Mazzone said. "Sometimes we need Brett to throw it away or maybe tuck it and get two yards."

"God bless him, he feels like he had to make every play successful and football is not like that. You take the good with the bad. He was putting on pressure that every time a play was called it had to be a positive play instead of throwing it away."

If Hundley can develop that part of his game, he has the elite physical tools at 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds to become a star. But neither Hundley nor Mazzone is looking that far ahead.

Asked what Hundley can do to improve if he returns next season, Mazzone replied, "Gosh, I don't know. Can I just enjoy this one first and worry about that in January?"

Said Hundley: "I'm just focused on the season."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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