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UCLA Football Preview: Arizona State Has a Balanced Offensive Attack

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The Bruins defense will have their work cut out for them against the high octane offense of ASU.

Utah v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona State Sun Devils have no problem lighting up their opposition. The UCLA Bruins defense is in for another stiff test when they travel to Tempe to square off against the all-of-a-sudden streaking Sun Devils this Saturday. Here’s how the Sun Devils will line up offensively.

Offensive Line

Under offensive line coach Dave Christensen, this unit for the Sun Devils has surrendered only ten sacks so far this season. All of their starting offensive linemen are upperclassmen and have a lot of experience in the trenches. ASU will have Cohl Cabral at center; Alex Losoya and Casey Tucker holding down the left side; and Steve Miller and Quinn Bailey protecting the right side. This group has proven to be tough against the pass rush this season which is an area which UCLA has struggled immensely. Not only have they given QB Manny Wilkins enough time to throw the ball, but they’ve also opened up a ton of running lanes offensively. The Bruins have their work cut out for them in the trenches.

Quarterback

Starting under center for Arizona State will be senior Manny Wilkins.

The senior quarterback has been a big bright spot for the Sun Devils this season, accumulating 2,250 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions to date. Manny Wilkins is also averaging a career-high 8.1 yards per attempt and has a QB rating of 148.6. A lot of his success has been predicated on the performance of the offensive line. After being sacked 40 times last season, Wilkins has only been sacked ten times in nine games which is quite the improvement. Not only is he a threat with his arm, but the Bruins need to be aware of his playmaking with his legs. The Sun Devils aren’t afraid to use him as a runner, as he’s rushed 69 times for 311 yards this season and four touchdowns.

Last season against the Bruins, he threw for 290 yards with one touchdown and one interception while also accounting for one rushing touchdown in a 44-37 loss last November. After dealing with Oregon QB Justin Herbert last weekend, UCLA faces another stiff test this Saturday against Wilkins.

Running Backs

A HUGE part of ASU’s success offensively this season has been the stellar performance from starting sophomore running back Eno Benjamin.

Benjamin has burst onto the scene and has solidified himself as one of the premiere running backs in the Pac-12 Conference. The talented running back has carried the ball 193 times for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season. Eno Benjamin is averaging a robust 5.8 yards per carry and his longest rush of the season went for a 49-yard touchdown. Not only is he a pain to deal with as a runner, but the Sun Devils love to get him involved in the passing game. Benjamin has hauled in 28 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Simply said, he’s a stud.

Wide Receivers

The Sun Devils have a plethora of playmakers on the outside, highlighted by junior N’Keal Harry. He’s caught 55 passes for 828 yards and nine touchdowns and is clearly ASU’s go-to guy in the passing game. He’s also averaging 15.1 yards per grab. Standing at 6-foot-4, he has the speed and athleticism to corral the ball over defenders. It will be interesting to see if head coach Chip Kelly plays with a safety over the top for some additional coverage against Harry. Expect him to be targeted early and often.

We should also expect to see sophomore Frank Darby and junior Kyle Williams targeted down the field. Darby has caught 19 passes for 381 yards and one touchdown thus far. Although he’s only found pay dirt once, he’s averaging 20.1 yards per catch. Practically any time he catches the ball, it goes for a big gain. As for Williams, he’s caught 30 passes for 311 yards and one touchdown. He’s a receiver that QB Manny Wilkins will target in the flat, rather than air it down the field to him.

Thoughts

The Sun Devils are averaging 435.4 yards per game and they have a terrific balance between the passing and running game. They attack from all angles of the field and are not afraid to take shots downfield. The Bruin defense will face a tough test this weekend against the high-powered offensive attack of Arizona State, which puts up points in a hurry.