In a must-win game for the No. 24 Sun Devils to stay alive in the South, it appeared the like they had little care for the game.
UCLA (3-5, 3-2) punched Arizona State (5-3, 2-3) in the mouth with a dignifying offensive performance. The Bruins not only put up 42 points on the Sun Devils defense, but they were able to convert on 7-14 third down plays and 3-3 fourth down plays.
“I told them after the game, that this is going to hurt and it should hurt,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “If it doesn't hurt, then you don't belong in the circle. It’s got to hurt you.”
The Sun Devils had no answer for Chip Kelly’s offense in the 42-32 defeat. They played catch up all game. ASU kept pace for the first quarter and then the Bruins took control.
UCLA had four nine or more play scoring drives. In those four drives, the Bruins ate roughly 26 minutes of their 38:30 time of possession. UCLA’s offense put up 393 yards but Edwards pointed out that the Bruins offense had just as many plays as the Sun Devils did last year.
“We had 80 plays last year and they had 80 this year,” Edwards said. “It was a complete reversal.”
In Tempe last year, ASU had 281 yards rushing compared to UCLA’s 104. As Edwards alluded too, it was a complete reversal in the Rose Bowl.
UCLA had 217 yards rushing with redshirt senior running back Joshua Kelley having his best performance, in the UCLA blue and gold, rushing for 164 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales pointed out that the offensive front was pushed off the ball quickly, giving Kelley and other ball carriers a chance to get more yards.
“When you give up (217) yards rushing, it means you are soft,” Gonzales said. “I’m going to challenge them and they are going to hear it from me all week.”
In the last two games, the Sun Devils have been penalized 21 times for 194 yards. Edwards said the team needs to clean it up if they want to have a chance to win.
“We got to clean that up,” Edwards said. “Nine penalties, thats too many, we generally average five a game.”
Those penalties came in costly situations as the defense would be on the field for third down. When it came to the penalties and not stopping the Bruins from converting third and fourth down plays, Gonzales had one word to say:
Gonzales added the defense made mistakes that helped UCLA’s offense, not only on penalties, but big plays.
“We are making mistakes that’s allowing them to continue drives and that is on us,” Gonzales said. “That has nothing to do with what we are doing, it has nothing to do with the other team. If we do our jobs, it’s a different outcome and we were in positions to make plays and we didn’t make them. We have got to coach them better to make sure they make them.”
Sophomore linebacker Darien Butler pointed out that the defense can’s have penalties. They had four accepted penalties: roughing the passer, unsportsmanlike, 12 men on the field and offside.
“As a team we got to stop the penalties,” Butler said. “Thats what really hurting us especially on defense. When you get fifteen yard penalties, they always lead to a touchdown, every time it never fails. You get a 15-yard, you know you are going to get a touchdown on that drive. We just cant have that, we have got to stop.”
Butler said the defense had a lack of intensity when it came to getting off the field on third downs.
“We have got to get off the field on third down, third and long especially.” Butler said.
UCLA’s offense was exactly what the defense predicted with the read option and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s ability to keep plays alive.
“They did everything we saw,” Butler said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance out of the gate.”