Brett Hundley looks for an open receiver during practice. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
The easy part, it seems, was for Brett Hundley to win UCLA's starting quarterback job. The challenge now is being UCLA's starting quarterback.
The competition for the job ended more than a week ago. Hundley was named the starter after the morning practice Aug. 10. He had an emotional telephone call with his parents. He then went out and had three passes intercepted during the evening practice.
Since then, there have been good days and bad days. Sunday morning's practice was a good one, as Hundley looked sharper than he has in a week.
That included one play in which he drifted to his right, to avoid pressure, and zipped a 30-yard touchdown pass to Steven Manfro.
"It's been a long, competitive period for him, and it can be overwhelming," Coach Jim Mora said. "I think that a couple days after we named him, he seemed in a little bit more command. The guys seem dialed into what he is saying. He's still young. He hasn't taken a snap in a game yet."
Even laboring some, Hundley still looked like the Bruins' best quarterback. He completed two touchdown passes of 50-plus yards in Saturday's practice — to Shaquelle Evans and Jordon James — though he also had a pass intercepted by Marcus Rios.
"No one ever has a perfect day," Hundley said. "Not every day is going to be great. I think you learn more from the days you may not do as well as the days you do everything right."
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has seen this learning curve before. He said after a quarterback wins the job, "they usually put more pressure on themselves. They think they have to make every play and be perfect, not miss a read. That's not going happen."
The key, Mazzone said, is repetition.
Besides getting comfortable as the starter, Hundley is also still absorbing Mazzone's offensive schemes, much of which involve quick reads.
"There are a ton of decisions a quarterback has to make," Mazzone said. "He has to signal everybody, get everybody lined up, get the play communicated. He's got to make pre-snap decisions, snap decisions, post-snap decisions."
Mora said that in recent days, Hundley "seemed to have settled down and is very confident right now."
The Bruins held a live scrimmage in Sunday night's practice.
Hundley completed 13 of 24 passes, including touchdowns covering 23, 9, 2 and 50 yards.
Richard Brehaut, who appears to be the front-runner for the backup quarterback job, received the second most repetitions. He completed five of 10 passes and threw one pass for a touchdown.
Running backs Johnathan Franklin, Jordon James and Damien Thigpen had long gains. Wide receiver Devin Lucien made a leaping catch for a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
"My feeling is the offense, especially the offensive line, stepped up tonight and did a real good job," Mora said. "It seemed a lot better to me than it has."
Tepa to transfer
Defensive end Iuta Tepa is expected to transfer after deciding the current defensive scheme was not suited to his size and skills.
Tepa, a 6-foot-2, 255-pound junior, will have to sit out one season and then will have one year of eligibility remaining. The Bruins are deep on the defensive front, and about to get deeper with freshman Ellis McCarthy nearly recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Tackle Torian White has decided to postpone a procedure to correct a heart rhythm problem during the Bruins bye week in October. White discussed the situation with his parents and doctors, who assured him he was not at risk.
UCLA plays Utah on Oct. 13 and is off until playing Arizona State on Oct. 27.