Thursday night will be one of chance and choice for the Sun Devils. They're taking a chance on new players, replacing others who have not produced. They're also choosing to go with Mike Bercovici at quarterback after Taylor Kelly's foot injury. We will soon see how Arizona State performs under pressure in its first test of the season. Everyone besides Bercovici still has to play as well, so here are the players you should watch in the pressure packed game who aren't named Bercovici.
The Chandler, Ariz. native has rushed 29 times for 74 yards and a touchdown this season, but the Sun Devils will still need to watch out for his dual threat ability. Keep an eye on how quickly Hundley decides to take off and run because of his arm issues. Will he be more timid running the ball or have trouble taking snaps and executing at game speed? No question Hundley is not 100 percent, but it will be interesting to see how much a dip the Bruins will suffer because of it.
He tried to run 17 times against the Sun Devils in Pasadena last November and only gained five yards. Arizona State will need to keep pressure on Hundley and make sure he doesn't have the room to tuck it and run, or if he does, make sure he thinks twice about it the next time.
Latu has four tackles this season, that's four more than Tashon Smallwood, the player he will replace on the defensive line at three-technique.
"I've got to step it up at three-tech this week and takeover for Tashon Smallwood," Latu told me Tuesday after practice. "I've just been learning, trying to push myself and trying to get better."
The 6-foot-2, 262 pounder played linebacker as a freshman last season and has had to make the transition to the defensive line, this will be his first true test at his new position. Depending on how he performs, Latu could have staying power up front. He'll need to pressure Hundley and exploit what has proven to be a weak UCLA offensive line.
The plan is for Brown to start at boundary corner opposite Lloyd Carrington. His matchup could be any combination of Jordan Payton, Thomas Duarte, Devin Fuller or Devin Lucien. Brown will need to stay alert as Hundley likes to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
"I came here and coach wanted me to start right away. And just not starting those first three games, I kind of got down on myself because I knew I wasn't playing to my potential and I'm still not," Brown said. "It sucked that it took this long, but it was all worth it because this is a good team, this will be a good game and I've got a lot to prove."
Graham has said in the past that he likes the way Brown plays a physical brand of corner, he'll need to take that aspect to the next level against the Bruins.