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Azusa QB Hunt Is Armed, Dangerous : Colleges: The senior, who is a transfer from Brigham Young University, is ranked among top passers in the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II.

November 08, 1990|MITCH POLIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Quarterback Brian Hunt of Azusa Pacific University had every reason to be distracted during the Cougar football team's game against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.

After all, his wife Colleen was two days past her delivery date for the couple's first child.

Hunt had even taken to wearing a beeper so his wife could alert him when she was about to go into labor.

Hunt responded with the best passing performance of his college career. He completed 40 of 62 passes for 416 yards and shattered six school records.

Record-setting performances have become the rule rather than an exception for Hunt.

Two weeks ago against La Verne, the 24-year-old senior set single-season school records for pass attempts with 364 and total offensive plays with 410.

In the game against Santa Barbara, Hunt established single-game marks for pass attempts, completions and passing yards. He also surpassed single-season records for completions with 197, passing yards with 2,342 and total offense with 2,357 yards.

He entered the week ranked No. 5 in the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II in passing yardage at 290.5 a game and No. 6 in total offense with an average of 294.6.

The numbers are especially impressive when you consider that Hunt had passed for only 1,461 yards in his first two seasons with the Cougars.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Hunt didn't benefit from the fact that Azusa Pacific's offense had been built around its rushing attack the past two seasons.

So the quarterback admits he was more than a little surprised when Coach Jim Milhon informed him in fall practice that he would be passing a lot more this season. "I think Brian may have thought that I wasn't committed to the pass," Milhon said.

"I think that was a question at first but it was answered early on when we'd come out and throw the ball five or six times in a row and sometimes we'd throw on 14 or 15 straight plays," Hunt said.

Milhon and Hunt agree that offensive coordinator Doug Barnett, a former lineman for the Los Angeles Rams, has had a significant contribution to the offense's success.

Barnett's offensive scheme has given Azusa more passing options this season. The Cougars have five players with 15 or more receptions and eight with 10 or more.

"That's probably one of the main things about the differences between this year and last year," Hunt said. "We have more guys to throw the ball to. We'll send five guys out in the pass pattern and we've gone from throwing 15 to 20 times a game to throwing it 40 to 50 times a game. You can see the difference between this year and last year. Last year it was strictly run and this year we're mostly passing."

He said the shift in emphasis to the passing game may have helped the team early in the season.

"It may have helped us at first but now (opponents) see us on film and they know what to expect a little more," Hunt said. "I think we've had a few games where they knew we had our passing strategy and they tried to stop it. But we designed plays to stop specific places where we knew they would try to come at us."

Milhon said the team's passing success has enabled the Cougars to keep their offense on the field longer and keep their defense fresh.

"We've had defensive success but the offense has controlled the play," he said. "They've helped us hold the ball (79) plays a game."

Much of the credit for that belongs to his quarterback, Milhon said.

"He has great leadership ability," he said. "The kids really believe that when he throws the ball it's going to get to them."

The coach said Hunt's leadership ability comes from the fact that he is older and more mature than most small college quarterbacks.

"Brian's played a lot of football," Milhon said. "He's 24 years old and he's got a lot of experience behind him. He's not a 19-year-old kid just out of high school. He's seen a lot out there. I'm not knocking any 19-year-old players, but a 24-year-old just knows a lot more about football."

Hunt has demonstrated his maturity as a quarterback by mixing up his passes.

"When he first came here, he wanted to throw the ball down the field a lot and now he's more willing to throw a short, five- to seven-yard pass or go to someone out of the backfield," Milhon said.

Hunt has come a long way since he played at Glendora High, where he was more of a run-oriented option quarterback. But after earning All-Baseline League honors as a senior at Glendora, Hunt decided to attend Brigham Young University in hopes of developing into a passing quarterback.

He spent his freshman season in Provo, Utah, as quarterback of the junior varsity team.

"I started on the JV team and did a little traveling on the (varsity) squad that first year," Hunt said. "Then I went for two years on a mission for the (Mormon) church and redshirted a year."

It was during his redshirt year that he decided to transfer to Azusa Pacific in hopes of receiving an opportunity to start.

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