We hand out our position-by-position grades for the Sun Devils' loss to UCLA
Taylor Kelly will be hit with a loss on his career record, but this defeat was not his fault. Yes, he made one huge mistake, a horrible decision to avoid a safety by throwing up a desperation pass that was intercepted to set up UCLA's touchdown before the half. But he also led an offense that racked up 535 yards and 43 points, by completing 25 of his 35 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 55 more yards. Kelly made a major statement late in the fourth quarter, when he led a possession with ASU down by six with just 3:36 left. He showed tremendous poise in leading the team down the field, and his 32 yard run in which he evaded and ran through several tackles was amazing. He then capped it with a beautiful touchdown pass to D.J. Foster in the corner of the endzone to give ASU a lead with 1:33 left. You can't ask your quarterback to do more than that.
Running Back: A
It was already clearly evident beforehand, but Saturday's game may make it official: Cameron Marshall is ASU's third-best option out of the backfield. D.J. Foster and Marion Grice were again sensational playmakers both on the ground and in the air. Foster led the team in both rushing (61 yards) and receiving (107) and had the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Grice was again a prime target, catching two touchdowns among his six catches and had another rushing score, giving him 12 touchdowns on the season. Marshall had a team-high 18 carries, but continued to lack the burst he showed last season, and averaged just 3.2 yards-per-carry.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: B
Over the last several weeks, it's become clear that ASU's best receivers are their running backs—Foster and Grice. The other Sun Devil receivers had solid if not unremarkable days. Jamal Miles had four grabs for 40 yards, Rashad Ross had three for 56, including a nice 23-yard catch on a third-and-12 and Kevin Ozier opened the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown, his only catch of the day. Chris Coyle was steady as a check down option on his three catches for 31 yards. Offensive lineman Tyler Sulka made the move to tight end, starting the game and threw some nice blocks.
Offensive Line: B-
Playing without starting right guard Andrew Sampson, the ASU offensive line did a solid job of keeping an aggressive UCLA defense at bay, but still allowed consistent pressure. The Bruins did manage to make four sacks of Kelly, and if not for Kelly's mobility, would have had a few more. ASU ran the ball a season-high 59 times for 220 yards. Perhaps the biggest blunder of the day belonged to Brice Schwab, whose holding penalty negated a Kevin Ozier touchdown, which forced ASU into a field goal.
Defensive Line: D
If this were the NFL, Will Sutton would have made himself a lot of money today without having to do a thing. Without him in the lineup, the Sun Devils had no answer for the UCLA running game. Davon Coleman did make five tackles and a sack in his place, but the Bruins consistently gashed the defense for gains all game long, including on the game's deciding drive. Johnathan Franklin ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards-per-carry. Mike Pennel returned after his suspension and saw plenty of action up front, and made little impact. Matters were no helped by a game-ending shoulder injury to Junior Onyeali.
If there was a bright spot for a defense that gave up 486 yards and 6.8 yards-per-play, it was at linebacker. Brandon Magee continues a strong season and again showed there is not an ounce of quit in him, racking up nine tackles and a sack. Chris Young had three tackles, one for loss, and a nice pass breakup, but also was burned by Damien Thigpen for a fourth quarter touchdown. Both of Steffon Martin's tackles were for a loss, but he left the game due to injury. Devilbacker Carl Bradford, who also spent plenty of time at end, did have two sacks, giving him 6.5 on the year.
This was an embarrassing effort for the Sun Devil secondary, in particular Alden Darby and Deveron Carr. Both were routinely beaten for long gains and touchdowns, with Carr having a miserable three-play stretch in the third quarter which was capped by Joseph Fauria's touchdown despite pass interference by Carr.. On the day, the secondary surrendered 274 yards and four touchdowns to UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. There were missed tackles and The lone highlight came on Carr's diving interception in the second quarter.
Special Teams: A
Who'd have thunk it? After making a change at kicker for a third straight week, and a year after missing all three of their field goal attempts against UCLA, the Sun Devils were perfect, with Jon Mora hitting all three of his attempts. Punter Josh Hubner was mostly great, blasting a career-best 68-yard kick, and he helped cause Steven Manfro's fumbled punt return with a booming kick that forced Manfro to retreat. Jamal Miles had a 23-yard punt return, his best effort of the year.