Bumped. Go Bruins. -T
Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson, AP
So this is the beginning of the end. Right? UCLA is fighting for bowl eligibility right now: needing two wins out of two games. Ryan and I predicted 3 out of 5 to end the season, which is still possible, but not at all probable, but I'll get to that later. There was some good news out of Westwood yesterday (emphasis added):
UCLA sophomore quarterback Richard Brehaut has been medically cleared to return against the Sun Devils on Friday... "There are all sorts of grades of concussions - and you're not talking to an expert here - all I know is there's a protocol they go through, and he cleared it very quickly," Neuheisel said. "There were times even during the game when he said he could go back in."
While I'm still not completely sold on Brehaut (maybe I never will be), he's the best QB we have right now. No doubt about it. He gives UCLA fans a reason, at the very least, to tune in on Friday.
Other than that, UCLA has nothing new to mention: "another great week of practice," says CRN. That is less and less convincing every time I hear it.
Now for the team in Tempe, after the jump.
Arizona State has a very talented defense. They are beatable, but we would need an above average offense to beat them.
ASU is coming off its top defensive performance of the season, limiting Stanford to a season-low 17 points. The Sun Devils have been criticized, but they allow 23.7 points, just slightly more than the 21.1 allowed last season.
Of course, the pinnacle of the Arizona State talent is with superfreak Vontaze Burfict. Burfict has had serious discipline problems, enough to get him benched for his personal fouls. It's nothing like Sheldon Price or Aaron Hester talking trash.
As for their offense, Arizona State has changed a lot since last year's matchup. In fact, if it weren't for untimely mistakes, Arizona State would be in contention for the Pac-10 title. Against Oregon, the Devils threw 4 red zone interceptions; against Wisconsin, a missed extra point cost them the game (they lost 20-19); against U$C, a missed field goal late cost them as well. Through all that, Steven Threet has been pretty good... well, at least in my opinion. He averages 253 YPG, and has a 62% completion rating.
Sophomore Brock Osweiler on Monday again spent time directing ASU's first-team offense, getting the most reps with that unit since camp, suggesting he could play, if not start, in Friday's home contest against UCLA.
Familiar enough, Erickson didn't indicate that possibility:
"Don't put anything into it," Erickson said of Osweiler's first-team repetition. "We just let him to do some things to see if he's getting better, but Steven's the starter and that's not going to change right now.
All drama aside, Threet is the more dangerous QB, and UCLA most likely prepared for Threet. He does, however, have problems with interceptions. Threet has thrown 16 INTs (top in the Pac-10), partially because he is under pressure often, with 24 sacks allowed on the season. However, that problem could be alleviated with a returning lineman in the Sun Devil lineup:
[Dan] Knapp moved to the offensive line during spring practice and played well enough to start the first four games at left tackle before an MCL tear kept him out of one game but cost him his starting job.
I also agreed with AZCentral's key player:
Running back Cameron Marshall: It's been hard to ignore the sophomore lately. In his last three games Marshall has averaged 4.8, 6.2 and 7.7 yards per carry. It's possible he could get more carries against a UCLA defense that has struggled against the run. Overall, Marshall has rushed for 577 yards (5.2 per carry) and seven touchdowns.
Expect him to thrash the Bruins around tomorrow. He reminds me of a Daniel Thomas, without the scheming to help his numbers. As for UCLA's defense, the only thing remotely similar to ASU's scheme is that of Houston's, but that is loose. Expect ASU to spread things out and should Bullough call Cover-4 on 1st and 2nd down, Threet will have a career day. If UCLA stays aggressive, they'll have a shot to steal this one, but don't count on it.
I had to agree with AZCentral on their bottom line as well:
The Sun Devils, fed up with close losses, insist they're going to finish strong. They've said similar things before, but the results haven't changed. This time, they let out some frustration.
Don't eat your leftovers tomorrow guys, as you'll have a tough time keeping them down en route to another frustrating loss that could effectively deem this season a complete loss.