Quarterback Brett Hundley finds a receiver during a 66-10 rout of Arizona… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
USC players and coaches heard plenty about Brett Hundley and the season he was enjoying across town for UCLA.
But they did not get a close-up look at the Bruins' redshirt freshman quarterback until they began watching tape this week in preparation for Saturday's game against the No. 17 Bruins at the Rose Bowl.
"He's the real deal," Monte Kiffin, USC's assistant head coach for defense, said Wednesday.
The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Hundley poses another challenge for a Trojans defense that rebounded from embarrassing performances against spread offenses of Arizona and Oregon with a solid game last week against Arizona State.
Hundley has passed for 24 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. He also has rushed for six touchdowns in a spread scheme designed by first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
Mazzone helped Arizona State defeat the Trojans last season at Tempe, Ariz.
"He's come into a different system than he signed up for," Coach Lane Kiffin said of Hundley, "but it's really fitting him well."
With Hundley at the controls, UCLA has averaged 496.8 yards a game, which ranks 13th nationally. The Bruins average 37.7 points.
Last week, Hundley passed for three touchdowns, with an interception, in a 44-36 victory at Washington State.
"We've just got to stay in the middle of the field and be ready to break … if he takes off and scrambles," USC middle linebacker Lamar Dawson said.
Hundley benefits from the presence of senior running back Johnathan Franklin. The former Dorsey High standout has averaged 127 yards rushing a game.
"Any time you have a guy who's played so much and had so much success — and from what I understand is such a good kid in your huddle — that helps a freshman quarterback a lot," Lane Kiffin said.
USC tailback Silas Redd, who sat out against Arizona State because of an undisclosed injury, was dressed in full pads when he entered the practice facility. Asked if he expected the junior to play Saturday, Kiffin said, "I hope so."…. Matt Barkley is one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is for quarterbacks who are fourth-year juniors or completing their final year of eligibility. Barkley is one of eight finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, presented to the player who "best combines exemplary community service with outstanding athletic and academic achievement."… USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero released statements urging fans of both teams to "exercise discretion and sportsmanship" on Saturday. "While the game will no doubt be played with great enthusiasm on both sides, it is important to remember that UCLA and USC are part of the same Los Angeles community and this rivalry should be celebrated with graciousness and class," Guerrero said. Said Haden: "The USC-UCLA cross-town rivalry brings out the best in both teams. Let's make sure it brings out the best in our fans too."