Scouting Notes: UCLA vs. Nebraska (9/14/13)

UCLA redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley started out awfully versus Nebraska, but looked like an early draft pick in the second half. (Photo: Bruce Thorson — USA Today Sports)

BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis

UCLA traveled to Nebraska on Sept. 14 in a highly anticipated rematch of last year’s game, which UCLA won 36-30.

UCLA struggled early and Nebraska looked ready to blow out the Bruins, leading 21-3 after capitalizing on UCLA’s mistakes. After the half, however, it was all UCLA, scoring 38 unanswered points to come out victorious 41-21.

UCLA

#11 LB Anthony Barr

-Hustle tackle; late getting to flat, still made shoelace tackle

-Overpowered by driving lineman

-Engages, extends arms and moves down the line to make tackle

-Good awareness to knock pitch back and cause fumble

-So fast when rushing off the edge, outstanding athlete

-Very good coverage linebacker

-Has the speed and coverage skills to keep up with running backs and tight ends

-Not much variety in rush moves, either speed off the edge or bull rush

Overview: It’s easy to see why Barr is being heralded as a top prospect. He remains raw after switching to linebacker from running back in 2012, but he has the size and athleticism to be a dynamic pass-rusher off the edge.

It is surprising to see how successful he is in coverage and how well he understands how to stack and shed and play the run for a player who just made the move to linebacker last season. He displays good all-around awareness and instincts as well.

He was overmatched by stronger linemen several times against Nebraska and with his short list of pass-rush moves, the Nebraska linemen learned how to cope with his rushes. But as far as Barr has come in such as short amount of time, it seems like the sky is the limit for him.

#1 WR Shaquelle Evans

-Sticks foot in ground and makes quick turn on curl

-Late getting out to block, cornerback able to get in and help make tackle

-Good punt return, found lane and got downfield quick

-Gets by jam and past defender, reaches out and shows soft hands on catch

-Catches ball with body a bit on well run short in, needs to attack ball

-Senses defender behind him, turns and cuts in for big gain

-Shying away from blocking, needs to engage his blocker

Overview: Evans only caught three passes against Nebraska but was the game’s leader in receiving yards. While the shortest reception he had was a 28-yard touchdown, he doesn’t look like he has the speed to be a deep threat at the next level.

His agility and quickness will be his greatest weapons at the next level. He showed off some good, crisp routes during the game  that allowed him to separate. He could thrive as a slot receiver at the next level.

His lack of effort to get out and block will deter some scouts. He strolled out of his stance toward the defender several times, only to realize too late that the run was coming his way. The defender lined up across from him was involved on a few tackles inside on runs.

Evans has the necessary tools as a receiver, but his lack of effort on blocking will bring up some questions.

#17 QB Brett Hundley (RS So.)

-Fumbled on first play from scrimmage (recovered by UCLA), carried ball away from body

-Bad read on out route resulting in interception, tried to make tackle on return

-Easy thrower, ball comes out fairly quickly

-Can run, but doesn’t have elite speed and takes a while to get to top speed

-Lots of poorly placed passes early

-Senses pressure and stepped up with eyes downfield

-Good throwing motion; stands upright, loads up and follows through

-Delivers quality strike on deep out

-Overthrew wide open WR Evans, likely touchdown

-Poised, doesn’t seem to get rattled

-Played most of game in very clean pocket, not having to adjust throws too much

-Needs to work on drop back and climbing the pocket, slow and mechanical looking

-Delivers beautiful, perfect pass “on a rope” right to WR Evans for touchdown

-Threw bullet to sideline with rusher barreling down on him

Overview: Both the good and the bad were on display Saturday. Hundley’s day started badly, with a fumble that was luckily recovered by UCLA and an interception that ultimately led to a touchdown. He struggled to find his receivers early, completing just two of seven passing attempts in the first quarter.

Something clicked late in the second quarter, and he looked like a totally different quarterback in the second half, throwing three touchdowns. He finished with 294 yards passing and another 61 rushing.

When he was good, he showed all the traits of a top quarterback prospect. He has a strong arm with good accuracy and touch. He didn’t face much pressure from Nebraska, so much of the time he was able to step up and go through his motion undeterred.

While he can run the football, he takes a long time to get to his top speed, and even then he doesn’t possess the speed to make big plays with his feet. That said, he is large and not afraid to take on defenders.

If Hundley shows he can consistently play like he did in the second half versus Nebraska, he’ll be an early selection, but if he struggles with consistency like he did early, he’d be lucky to be a Day 3 prospect.

#99 DL Cassius Marsh

-Knee bender

-Not quick off the line, but fine for 3-4 defensive end looking to occupy blockers and play run

-Plays stout against the run, disengages and works towards the ball

-Decent speed, able to chase down quarterback in the flat

-Recognizes run and fills gaps

-Doesn’t seem to be much help generating pressure

Overview: One of the biggest questions with Marsh is “What position will he play at the next level?” Playing 3-4 defensive end, he is strong and stands his ground.

He plays the run very well. He keeps his eyes on plays and is able to move off his blocker toward the ball carrier and make plays.

While he finished third on the team with six sacks in 2012, he didn’t look to be much of a factor against the pass on Saturday. He didn’t generate much pressure and didn’t break through the line at all.

Marsh may be able to play defensive end in an odd front at 260 pounds in college, but he is undersized for the position at the next level. His ‘tweener status hurts his draft stock.

#56 OG Xavier Su’a-Filo (Jr.)

-Good bend

-Fast off line and to second level

-Speed can be issue as he overran his assignments several times

-Keeps head on swivel and looks to help other blockers

-Looks tired early, possible conditioning issues? Has a bit of a flabby gut

-Got pushed off line by nose tackle

-Good initial protection, loses defender and doesn’t attempt to block again

-Gets hands on quickly with punch, but needs to watch hand placement

-Holds point-of-attack, stout with good base and quick feet

Overview: The heart of UCLA’s offensive line, Su’a-Filo flashed skills as both a pass and run blocker but lacked consistency versus Nebraska.

Most of the time he would be able to control the line of scrimmage, but several times the lineman he just beat on the previous play would push him around. This was very evident at the end of the first half. This could have been fatigue-related, as he appeared to be tired halfway through the second quarter. He didn’t appear as worn out at the end of the second half though and still had a few struggles.

In pass protection, he got his hands out, contained the inside rush and did a good job of helping other blockers. He too often looked to give up on the play, however, once his guy got by or if a rusher didn’t immediately appear for him to take on.

Su’a-Filo is a good lineman prospect, but questions about his stamina, effort and consistent play need to be addressed.

#35 LB Jordan Zumwalt

-Good awareness shifting down and containing on read option

-Good tackling technique; head up, goes low, wraps up and drives through

-Forced fumble with quality tackle

-Physical defender

-Takes good angles in pursuit

-Never on field for third downs

-Can’t stay with running back in coverage, easily beat

-Good tackling technique, puts helmet on the ball and causes fumble

Overview: Zumwalt only appeared on rushing downs against Nebraska and the amount of plays he made were limited, but he made the most of his opportunities.

His two forced fumbles can be owed to his tackling technique. His tackling technique is solid fundamentally; he sees what he hits, leads with his shoulder and puts his hat on the ball as he wraps up the tackler.

His speed is average at best, which makes him a liability in coverage and kept him off the field on third downs. He makes up for his lack of speed in the run game by putting himself in good position and taking good angles in pursuit.

Zumwalt won’t “wow” with his play, but he hustles and gets the job done.

See page 2 for notes on Nebraska’s top prospects.

Continue to Page: 1 2

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Anthony Barr, Brett Hundley, Cassius Marsh, Jeremiah Sirles, Jordan Zumwalt, Nebraska, Scouting Notes, Shaquelle Evans, Spencer Long, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Taylor Martinez, UCLA, Xavier Su'a-Filo

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