Hundley, Barr make UCLA front-runners in Pac-12 South

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After a 2012 season that saw UCLA defeat USC and win the Pac-12 South Division, the Bruins are projected to once again reach the Pac-12 title game. UCLA is the team to beat in Los Angeles, and, in Brett Hundley and Anthony Barr, the Bruins have the appropriate star power.

Hundley, as a redshirt freshman quarterback in 2012, threw for 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns. Head coach Jim Mora thinks Hundley is just scratching the surface.

“Brett was impressive,” Mora said at Friday’s Pac-12 Football Media Day in Culver City, Calif. “He has all the tools to be great player. He’s not a great player yet.”

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Mora said Hundley needs to become a better decision-maker, knowing when to throw the ball away and learning how to slide when he runs. He will have more of an opportunity to be showcased with the loss of All-American running back Johnathan Franklin. The Bruins’ ground game in 2013 will be run by committee, Mora said, instead of one stalwart tailback.

“You don’t just step in and replace the leading rusher in the history of UCLA,” Mora said. “The hope is that one of them will become the next Johnathan Franklin eventually.”

One player who is still around for the Bruins is Barr, the squad’s breakout star in 2012.

“This is the most attention I’ve ever gotten in my life,” the senior linebacker said at Friday's event. “I have no problem being up here.”

Last year, in his first season at the position, Barr recorded 83 tackles and 13.5 sacks, the nation’s second-best mark. He said that during the spring he focused on plays that do not involve him rushing the passer, saying he was not as comfortable backpedaling and dropping into coverage in 2012.

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Going after the quarterback seemed to come pretty naturally to him, though. Asked about his huge hit on Matt Barkley in UCLA’s victory over USC last year, Barr laughed.

“It’s funny you ask,” Barr said. “I want to know why the tackle just let me go. For whatever reason, he should be up here talking to you guys. He’s the reason why I was able to make that play.”

If Hundley and Barr continue to make strides in improvement, UCLA could be laughing all the way to another Pac-12 Championship Game appearance.