ASU travels to UCLA with Pac-12 South lead at stake – The Arizona Republic

b1babd08 9836 4ae6 90e8 56eab672b2d0 bba43895 7c4f 4295 b948 814a80f784b0 thumbnail


Last time Arizona State made a stop at Pasadena’s iconic Rose Bowl to square off against UCLA, things didn’t exactly go well. The Sun Devils trailed 28-7 at the half and were down 42-17 early in the fourth quarter. They lost by 10 but they game never seemed that close.

Starting quarterback Jayden Daniels got injured, which resulted him missing the next game — the only one he hasn’t started in his three years.

That was two years ago.

The Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0) make that trip again on Saturday and will face a formidable foe in No. 20 UCLA (3-1, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. The contest will air on FS1.

They likely have redemption on their minds but more important is the chance to stake a claim to the Pac-12 South with ASU and UCLA the only teams out of the six who have yet to lose a conference game.

The team many favored in the preseason, USC, has already lost two, both at home.

The Sun Devils boast a lot of players who will be playing close to home, including Daniels who hails from San Bernardino, 60 or so miles east. Coach Herm Edwards says that can be both a good thing and a bad thing for his players.

“We got to muster up our ability to stay focused. We have a lot of players that come from Los Angeles and they have to get their minds — they have to go back home and a lot of times they get excited about going back home but they have to keep their poise and make sure this thing doesn’t get away from the,” he said. “I think we have enough guys now that have been there numerous times, in L.A., that hopefully, they can keep their emotions in check.”

The Sun Devils, once ranked as high as No. 19 nationally, hit the road two weeks ago and were dealt a 27-17 loss by BYU. They had issues with penalties, 16 to be exact, a good handful of those false start penalties that resulted from the noise of the boisterous home crowd.

Both Edwards and offensive coordinator Zak Hill talked about that his week and are confident those issues have been resolved.

“We’ve worked multiple operations, so we’re capable of handling whatever it is. Those environments like BYU, it was impressive. It was a heck of an environment and our guys didn’t handle it that well. Now we’ve been through that situation and as in life, you know when adversity hits, hopefully, you learn from it and figure out different ways to do things,” Hill said.

“Hopefully that gives us confidence moving forward that we can handle those situations. Because that’s what it really comes down to, it comes down to poise under pressure, trusting your training and then going out there and executing. We got a little rattled at BYU and now we’ve hopefully taken measures to be able to alleviate that.”

Both teams opened Pac-12 play with wins a week ago. ASU defeated Colorado 35-13 and UCLA turned back Stanford 35-24.

The Sun Devils are 5-6 against ranked teams in Edwards’ tenure and can move to .500 in that department with the win. This will be the second ranked foe this season for the Sun Devils, the first of those being BYU.

The game features two quarterbacks that have the ability to extend plays with their scrambling ability, Daniels and UCLA counterpart Dorian Thompson-Robinson, now a four year-starter.

“I don’t know if you stop him. I think you try to contain him. Great athletes, you’re not going to stop them. That word is kind of overused,” Edwards said of the opposing quarterback. “You have to understand your rush lanes. Any time you run by a quarterback,  our quarterback does the same thing. You run past him upfield and you open windows for the guy to escape. If you watch the last couple times that quarterbacks ran on us, look at the rush lanes, very obvious. Run past the quarterback, you got a problem, right? I think all those things come into play.”

Both teams also have sound ground games with ASU’s featuring Rachaad White and DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum, the latter expected to return from an ankle sprain that sidelined him for three weeks.

UCLA counters with the duo of Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet and North Carolina graduate transfer Brittain Brown.

The Bruins also counter with a run defense that ranks fifth in the country, allowing just 64 yards per game, so the Sun Devils are going to need production from the passing game as well.

ASU enters with a defense that ranks sixth nationally, allowing 247.5 yards per game, although the early schedule has not featured top caliber foes.

“The only thing on my mind is going there and coming back with a win,” Daniels said. “It’s a chance to go home and play in front of my friends and family but coming back with the win is the main thing. That’s the focus of this team and we’ll do whatever it takes.”

Reach the reporter at or 602 444-4783.  Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

Subscribe to today.