LOS ANGELES — At least UCLA coach Jim Mora acknowledges he’ll need a quarterback in next week’s Pac-12 opener at Arizona State.
Although Mora concedes “someone has to go in” for the 12th-ranked Bruins next Thursday, he isn’t saying whether it will be injured starter Brett Hundley, surprising backup Jerry Neuheisel or somebody else entirely.
Hundley hurt his left elbow last Saturday in the first quarter against Texas, and Neuheisel came off the bench to throw the game-winning touchdown pass in a 20-17 win against the Longhorns.
But Mora refused to discuss the status of Hundley’s non-throwing arm, having closed all practices and restricting media availability leading up to the game against the No. 15 Sun Devils. The moves are presumably designed to keep Arizona State in the dark about whether Hundley will play.
“I feel good about our team,” Mora said when asked about injuries. “They work hard every day. They have a great attitude. They work hard to get back on the field if they are not on the field. They work hard to stay on the field if they are on the field. I’m excited about our team.”
Arizona State has taken the opposite approach, acknowledging that its injured quarterback Taylor Kelly will miss the game against UCLA after hurting his right foot in a 38-24 win at Colorado.
Mora, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge that Neuheisel would be the next man up if Hundley can’t play.
“Just because Jerry went into that game doesn’t mean that is our backup quarterback,” Mora said. “We’ve never determined who is No. 2, 3, 4. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys. Next time it could be [redshirt freshman] Asiantii [Woulard]. Heck, Asiantii could start the Arizona State game, who knows?”
Neuheisel was carried off the field by his teammates after going 23 of 30 for 178 yards and two touchdowns against Texas, a performance that earned Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors for the son of Rick Neuheisel, the former UCLA quarterback and coach.
“It’s very fun,” Neuheisel said. “My mom was the first one to text me. I was like, ‘Mom, you’re more pumped about this than my own teammates are.'”
Ever the coach’s son, Neuheisel said he was more focused on what he did wrong against Texas than what he did right, pointing to an early throw into double coverage that could have been intercepted. Still, he said it would be easier to prepare for the possibility of starting against Arizona State having had the experience of the Texas game.
“I’d definitely say there is a little bit of a newfound confidence,” Neuheisel said. “There is always that indecision, ‘Can I do it or not?’ To go in and for it to go as well as it did, there is definitely a little bit of confidence through me.”
The winner of the past two Arizona State-UCLA games has won the Pac-12 South and played in the conference championship game. UCLA edged Arizona State 45-43 on a last-second field goal in 2012 in Tempe, Arizona, while the Sun Devils held off the Bruins 38-33 last season at the Rose Bowl.
Hundley has thrown for 527 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions in those two games.
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