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Spaulding Rounup: Early Thoughts On Arizona State

Let's start this Monday with an announcement of a simple rule for this game week. We don't want to see any discussion here on BN on any game other than the one coming up this weekend at the Rose Bowl. Period. If we see any more fanposts, fanshots or comments that talk about UCLA's last regular season game of the year overlooking a solid Arizona State football team with one of the best defenses in the conference, we will be hitting the delete button. So if you want to waste your keystrokes on our game against Chetey's bunch, you will have to do it somewhere else.  It doesn't mean that we have to stop making fun of Petey or his lapdogs in the traditional media because that's an evergreen topic on BN. We just don't want to think about that game right now because we have a bigger one looming against Arizona State

Dennis Erickson's team is coming off a 21-44 loss against the Ducks. Looks like the Sun Devils might have found a young QB in that game who helped them make a little bit of run or at least make the score respectable in Eugene:

True freshman Brock Osweiler, who played the second half of the loss to USC on Nov. 7, got the start in place of Danny Sullivan. But he was ineffective Saturday, going 5-for-10 for 14 yards with one interception before leaving halfway through the second quarter with an apparent forearm injury.

But it wasn't Sullivan who came in. He had been limited during the week because of a biceps injury.

Coach Dennis Erickson sent in sophomore Samson Szakacsy, who entered the game with the Devils down 31-7. The Ducks would go on to win 44-21.

Szakacsy had been expected to the primary backup this season, but his elbow injury opened the door for Osweiler. Szakacsy, in his first extended playing time of the year, went 13-for-22 for 113 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.

He is the most mobile of the Arizona State's quarterbacks, and he rushed five times for 9 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.

With the help of an Oregon fumble on a kickoff, Arizona State got within 31-21 in the third quarter.

ASU now has a record of 4-6 (2-5 in the conference) which puts them on the same boat as us heading into Saturday's matchup. So they will be approaching Saturday with the same sense of desperation making it for all intent and purpose an elimination game.

Looking through ASU's season statistics the number that obvious jumps out right away is their defense.  The Sun Devils are coming into the Rose Bowl with a defense which is ranked number 1 in Pac-10 (alsi in top-15 in all of college football). It's a stingy bunch that gives up 105.5 yards on ground and 195.9 yards through passing game. So Kevin Prince and co., who are probably feeling pretty good about themselves after what they have done in last 9 quarters, will have a game in their hands which will serve as a real measuring stick for the 2009 season. More after the jump.

Right now it looks like if the Bruins want to take control of this game, we are going to need Kevin Prince to be in rhythm early on. Thanks to Kevin's numbers our passing game's numbers are starting to look respectable (ranked 4th in the conference). Prince will have to keep spraying passes all over the field to loosen up the Sun Devils defense opening up some space for our running attack.

And, speaking of our running attack, the coaches will have to find a way to get JetSki back in a groove. I think it's pretty clear that he is our best all around back. I watched most of the replay of our game against the Cougars last night. When I was zeroing on the RB spot, to me it looked like JetSki was doing the best job in terms of providing extra pass protection for Prinice. Given the pressure we are going to face from ASU and the team speed of their defense, I think the Bruins will need JetSki to make a meaningful contribution this weekend. So hopefully he has erased the memories of those sloppy fumbles and locked in at Spaulding.

As for personnel news, Bruins might get some reinforcements this weekend:

Neuheisel said he hopes to get senior defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski (foot) and junior offensive guard Ryan Taylor (foot) back this week. ... Redshirt freshman cornerback Aaron Hester is expected to return to full-speed action this week. He has been hampered by a fractured leg suffered in Week 1. ... Senior tight end Logan Paulsen suffered a calf cramp that kept him down on the field for a few minutes against Washington State, but Neuheisel said he was fine.

CRN also is focused on the most important objective for this game week:

"I'm just focused on us getting to 6-5 this week," Neuheisel said.

For those who are coming on to BN to talk up UCLA football this week, we'd love to hear your takes on Arizona State. We'd love to read and here more about how our guys match up against Erickson's Sun Devils team which is also going to be fighting and clawing for a post-season bowl bid.

Don't forget it is also senior day. So it's going to be a pretty  emotional day for kids such as ATV, Reggie Carter, and Terrence Austin who have collectively been through a lot during their four years in Westwood. Kevin Prince mentioned right after the Washington State game what a special day it is going to be at the Rose Bowl and how he wants to do his part to make sure seniors can be sent off on a great note from the Rose Bowl. So once again let's lock in and keep all of our focus on the Sun Devils till kickoff at 1 pm PST this Saturday at the Rose Bowl.