First look: Arizona State Sun Devils

No. 12 UCLA Bruins (3-0) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT, Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.)
TV: FOX Sports 1

Coach: Remember when Todd Graham looked like the biggest turncoat in college football?

A little more than a year ago, ESPN’s anonymous poll of 92 college football players found that 14 percent said Graham was the last coach they’d want to play for — beating out Lane Kiffin by three percent.

But Graham only needed two seasons to win a Pac-12 South title, endearing himself to the Arizona State fan base and pushing his messy departure from Pitt deeper into the newspaper archives. ASU has compensated him handsomely for that success — paying him around $800,000 in performance bonuses for the 2013 season.

Key players:

QB Mike Bercovici, Jr., 6-1, 200 — 9/17, 79 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 7 carries, 12 rushing yards
– Once considered Brock Osweiler’s heir apparent until Taylor Kelly won out, Bercovici finally gets his chance to start in the wake of Kelly’s foot injury. He’s not the same type of running threat as Kelly (ASU’s second-leading rusher at 19 carries for 168 yards) but Bercovici has a strong arm and has been in the program for years.

RB D.J. Foster, Jr., 5-11, 205 — 54 carries, 510 rushing yards, 5 TD, 11 catches, 139 receiving yards, 1 TD
– Looks like a workhorse back capable of racking up yards after contact. Averages 216.3 all-purpose yards per game, good for second in the country and one spot ahead of Georgia’s Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: How does Marcus Mariota look as an NFL prospect?

» Greg Bedard looks at the NFL stock of Marcus Mariota, who “may project as the best dual-threat quarterback ever to come out of college.”

» How exactly did Boston College rack up 452 rushing yards against USC?

» Mike Leach’s morning path to his office requires a hike through a garbanzo bean field, which is somehow not surprising at all.

» Former Utah defensive tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu donated his kidney to his younger brother, Chris. Continue reading

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Jerry Neuheisel reflects on his big game in UCLA’s win over Texas

Jerry Neuheisel played the game of his life last Saturday at AT&T Stadium, leading a dramatic 20-17 comeback win against Texas and being carried off the field by his teammates.

With the health of Brett Hundley’s left elbow still a bit unclear, UCLA’s backup quarterback could take the field again at Arizona State next Thursday.

So when he stood in front of reporters on Wednesday, this was one of the first questions he heard: Do you go into this week thinking ‘I’m going to be the guy’? Well, he said, that’s how he and all backup quarterbacks prepare week in and week out — and if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t do very well as starters. Continue reading

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Jim Mora stays quiet about UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley

Jim Mora is going to keep Arizona State guessing.

With a week to go until his team visits the Sun Devils at 7 p.m. next Thursday, the UCLA head coach declined to offer any information on quarterback Brett Hundley — or the status of any other injured Bruins. Hundley injured his left elbow during the first quarter of UCLA’s 20-17 win against Texas last Saturday, but was seen entering practice on Wednesday.

A few weeks ago, Mora said that the team had picked a backup quarterback (that he declined to name publicly). On Wednesday, he tried to back off from even that statement. He praised Jerry Neuheisel’s performance against the Longhorns — one in which the redshirt sophomore threw a game-winning 33-yard touchdown pass — but did not commit to him as the next one on the depth chart.

“Just because Jerry went in that game doesn’t mean that’s our backup quarterback,” Mora said. “We’ve never determined who’s No. 2, 3, 4. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys. Next time someone has to go in, it could be Asiantii (Woulard). Heck, Asiantii might start the Arizona State game. Who knows?”

Mora did say he was sure that new JUCO transfer defensive end Takkarist McKinley will play at ASU, and could contribute 10 to 15 snaps.

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UCLA’s 2015 football schedule finalized

UCLA’s 2015 schedule was announced on Tuesday night when the Pac-12 released the full conference slate.

Here’s a look at the full schedule:

Sept. 5 — Virginia
Sept. 12 — at UNLV
Sept. 19 — BYU
Sept. 26 — at Arizona
Oct. 3 — Arizona State
Oct. 10 — BYE
Oct. 15 — at Stanford (Thurs.)
Oct. 22 — California (Thurs.)
Oct. 31 — Colorado
Nov. 7 — at Oregon State
Nov. 14 — Washington State
Nov. 21 — at Utah
Nov. 28 — at USC

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Weekly Q&A — 9/15/14 Answers

Note: Presumably to keep the status of Brett Hundley’s injured left elbow under wraps, UCLA has shut down access almost entirely this bye week. Not only are practices closed, but the practice times have not been released.

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Q: Did the running game and OL have a breakthrough against Texas which may bode well for upcoming games, or was Texas just gassed at that point?

A: I think it was a legitimate step forward for the offensive line and running back Paul Perkins. UCLA only had a slight edge in time of possession (31:12 to Texas’ 28:48), so I don’t think the Longhorns defense was particularly worn down. Texas’ offense actually held a significant 10:56 to 4:04 edge in the second quarter, then came out of halftime to give up that 58-yard run to Perkins that set up the Bruins’ first touchdown.

But left tackle Malcolm Bunche injured his left foot; he reentered the game, but was seen on crutches afterward. Conor McDermott would likely start in Bunche’s place if needed.

Q: What do you think is going to happen with Asiantii Woulard? Jerry Neuheisel seems to have gotten a firm grip on the backup quarterback spot and Josh Rosen is coming in. Unless he makes a leap soon, is he the odd man out?

A: That’s going to be the big question heading into spring. Right now, Woulard isn’t in an ideal spot. I think Woulard will at least stick around and compete for the starting spot through spring. If he loses out, he could decide to stick around anyway, change positions or transfer — but it’s a bit early to say at this point.

Q: Do you think maybe UCLA has been playing with too much restraint and not enough heart through the first three games and Neuheisel the Younger stepping in uncorked their emotions? Continue reading

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UCLA officially signs five-star quarterback Josh Rosen

rosen

UCLA announced on Monday that it has officially signed five-star quarterback Josh Rosen, immediately laying the foundation for its 2015 recruiting class.

Rosen is Rivals.com‘s No. 1 quarterback as well as the second-best national prospect at any position. He led Bellflower St. John Bosco to the CIF state title last season.

He will graduate early and enroll for UCLA’s winter quarter, which begins Jan. 5. The 6-foot-4, 206-pound quarterback will compete with current backup Jerry Neuheisel and Asiantii Woulard — a redshirt freshman this season — for the starting spot.

The Bruins also announced the signing of JUCO transfer defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who is eligible to play immediately.

» For anyone that missed it, now’s as good a time as any to check out Thuc Nhi Nguyen’s in-depth look at Rosen this summer.

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Graduate transfer guard Jon Octeus denied admission to UCLA

The hits keep coming for UCLA basketball.

For the second time in four days, the Bruins lost a player expected to contribute immediately during Steve Alford’s second season. As first reported by the Coloradoan, potential graduate transfer guard Jon Octeus has been denied admission to UCLA.

Octeus had averaged 13.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a junior at Colorado State last season, and had intended to play his final season with the Bruins.

UCLA’s backcourt rotation now consists of senior Norman Powell, and sophomores Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Noah Allen.

The Bruins also lost the services of true freshman Jonah Bolden, a four-star wing who last Friday was ruled a partial qualifier and thus ineligible to play the 2014-15 season.

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Jerry Neuheisel named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week

Jerry Neuheisel earned something that’s eluded even Brett Hundley this season: Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

UCLA’s backup quarterback was voted the conference’s top performer after lifting the Bruins past Texas with his unlikely heroics, throwing a 33-yard touchdown to Jordan Payton with three minutes left. Neuheisel finished the 20-17 win with 178 yards and two scores on 23-of-30 passing.

The status of Hundley’s injured left elbow remains fuzzy as UCLA enters its bye week.

Cornerback Ishmael Adams, who set up Neuheisel’s touchdown pass with a 45-yard punt return, was voted Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week. He totaled 62 yards on three punt returns and also returned a kickoff for 14 yards.

Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson won defensive player of the week after returning an interception and a fumble for touchdowns in the Huskies’ 44-19 win over Illinois.

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