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ASU vs. UCLA: The key players to watch

ASU and UCLA need three players to deliver big time performances.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Since the schedule was released, the Arizona State at UCLA game stood out. Yes, it stood out over Notre Dame in Dallas, Texas, hosting Wisconsin, traveling to Stanford and more.

The anticipation can finally subside.

Come kickoff on Saturday, three players on ASU and UCLA are either going to receive kudos for the win or grief for losing.


Taylor Kelly, Quarterback

Taylor Kelly doesn't get enough credit. Kelly doesn't get enough recognition. Kelly doesn't get his team into bad situations. Over the previous two contests, it's hard to give Kelly praise, posting 324 total yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers won't cut it.

Some local media, including myself, watch Kelly and know the slip ups were blips in the road. What's the best way for Kelly to prove himself? Win on the big stage. The opportunity at hand will not only summarize the ASU season, but it may also summarize Kelly. If he can deliever against UCLA, the doubters are going to suddenly jump on the Kelly bandwagon.

The defense picked up the slack while Kelly made some rare questionable decisions. That barely panned out well against Utah and Oregon State, but doing so against UCLA will be nearly impossible. Kelly and the offense still average 42.3 points per game, and he needs to guide ASU to a similar number points this week.

Chris Coyle, Tight End

Hello, Chris Coyle, are you there? As of late, the answer has been no. The ASU offense can't solely revolve around Marion Grice, Jaelen Strong and sporadic dosages of D.J. Foster and company. Coyle needs to fill the void as the third option.

Coyle accumulated a mere 68 yards and one touchdown over the three previous contests. In the game against Washington, Coyle accumulated 78 yards and one touchdown. The explosive plays to Strong are tempting, but the stability Coyle offers must be utilized.

Mike Norvell's unit is at its best when Strong occupies the outside and Coyle roams over the middle. Kelly almost forced the ball to Coyle last season, yet Coyle isn't used more as a blocker in 2013. Coyle silently holds the keys to the maroon and gold scoring.

Carl Bradford, Devil Backer

The motivation for Carl Bradford will be through the roof, between getting benched against Oregon State and playing in the same game as the nation's best linebacker in Anthony Barr. Bradford hopes to prove to be compared to Barr, or even better.

Paul Randolph and the defense are getting on track, and pressuring the quarterback has been the main reason why. If you think of pressure and ASU, you think of Bradford too. The worst part of Brett Hundley's game is his accuracy. But, with the proper time, he can dice defenses.

Bradford storming in off the edge would cause Hundley to thread the needle, turning into possible interceptions.


Brett Hundley, Quarterback

The game should be high scoring, therefore Hundley headlines the UCLA key players. It's very easy to be impressed with him because of his big size, strong arm, toughness, running ability and more. Game planning for these type of quarterbacks creates nightmares.

Against ASU in 2012, Hundley sported 274 passing yards, four touchdowns through the air and one interception. And the most impressive of it all was his game winning 2-minute drill drive to seal the game. The Sun Devils did stymie him to only 27 yards on the ground, and that was basically the sole positive.

No matter the defense, Hundley will make his fair share of plays. Hundley continues to grow into an elite quarterback because of experience. In the last three games, Hundley put together nine touchdowns compared to no picks. Regardless of your affiliation, the 9:0 ratio is worthy of tipping your cap.

Hundley, the Chandler, Ariz. native, would love to ruin his hometown team's season again.

Myles Jack, Linebacker/Running Back

The position label above may appear like a typo, but it's reality. Myles Jack plays on both sides of the ball, and he excels on offense and defense. The true freshman started the season only lining up at linebacker. Once the three top running backs on UCLA got injured, Jim Mora Jr. tried Jack in the backfield.

The decision paid off immediately. Jack received a pedestrian six carries against the University of Arizona, and he somehow turned them into 120 yards and one touchdowns. For all the math hatters, that comes out to 20 yards per carry! It was his running back debut and foreshadowed more to come.

Jack got into the end zone four times against Washington the following week. The legend was born. Even ASU coach Todd Graham couldn't hold back the compliments regarding Jack.

Outside of Johnny Manziel, Jack may be hottest topic throughout college football. Please watch Jack, and appreciate his greatness and nearly unprecedented ability to go both ways.

Anthony Barr, Linebacker

The UCLA defense, otherwise known as Anthony Barr and friends. Barr was named as the scariest player in college football by CBS Sport's Bruce Feldman. No wonder why my Barr costume freaked so many kids out on Halloween.'s Dan Greenspan doesn't think Barr should be the second to anyone, including Jadeveon Clowney.

"With Barr's unnatural speed and improving skills at the position, Barr should challenge South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as the top pass rusher in college football and could end up as the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft next May." Greenspan said.

Barr reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. Some running backs can't even move that quickly, let alone 6-foot-4, 248-pound linebackers. Barr can wreak havoc on any given play. The big men up front for ASU are going to have their hands full with Barr.

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