First look: Arizona State Sun Devils

No. 11 UCLA Bruins (3-0) vs. No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT, Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.)
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Tim Brando, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
Radio: AM 570 / SIRIUS 108 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

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.

WR Jaelen Strong, Jr., 6-3, 215 — 19 catches, 266 yards, 2 TD
— Broke out with a big 2013 season (75 catches, 1,122 yards, 7 TD), and remains far and away Arizona State’s most dangerous receiver.

S Damarious Randall, Sr., 5-11, 190 — 27 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
— All but one of his team-high 27 tackles are unassisted, giving him the conference lead in solo tackles and the No. 2 spot nationwide.

S Jordan Simone, Jr., 6-0, 195 — 23 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble
— A former walk-on, Simone not only won a scholarship but has looked like one of ASU’s best defensive players early on. Returned an interception 29 yards against Colorado, setting up a three-play touchdown drive.

Scouting report: The loss of Taylor Kelly obviously hurts the Sun Devils significantly. The senior was one of Jim Mora’s favorite players in the conference. Just before the season, Mora said of Kelly: “That’s a big-time player that no one ever talks about. That kid is something else. I love him. I don’t like playing against him, but I love him. He gives me headaches.” … After losing nine starters from a defense that ranked fifth nationally with 33 takeaways, ASU has recovered four fumbles to go with two picks. … Arizona State leads the conference (and ranks 13th nationally) with 304.3 rushing yards per game, but has played weak slate so far. Weber State is an FCS that hasn’t won more than two games since 2011, while Colorado and New Mexico rank 99th and 128th in run defense, respectively. … The offensive line looks much better than it did last season. Left tackle Jamil Douglas is an athletic freak, and ASU isn’t shy about pulling guards Vi Teofilo and Christian Westerman to key its run game. Sun Devils have given up four sacks after allowing 40 in 2013. … Zane Gonzalez was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection as a freshman, but has missed two of his 18 extra-point attempts this season.

  • MPPBruin

    Can’t wait for Jaelen Strong to graduate. He’s good.

  • Sandy Underpants

    Another easy 3 TD win over ASU by UCLA.

    • Jango Freeman

      Like 2013?

      • EncinitasBruin

        More like 2012.

    • Sark and the Seven Win Wonders

      Sandy, you are coming around! Hundley vs Bercovici? Please.

    • Danny

      Brilliant move, my fellow Trojan fan! By posting a way overhyped number, we can gloat even if they win!

      I can hear us saying it now if the Bruins squeak out a win…”the Bruins are waaay overrated! Silly Jim Mora should act more like us mighty Trojans and go for a strategic loss!”

      And if our mighty Trojans lose we have two retorts:
      “Losing was part of the plan. Just like BC. Of course, you Bruins are so stupid that all you want to do is win. Shows how much you know about strategy!”

      “Yeah, well last year the mighty Trojans… I mean the year BEFORE that….well, a long time ago we were awesome, and THAT is proof that we will be awesome this year”

      You, my friend, are a genius!

      • Sandy Underpants

        UCLA was never awesome. So you can’t relate. Keep shining up that Sun Bowl championship trophy. UCLA’s greatest achievement.

        • Danny

          I’m on your side, my comrade in arms!

          Listen up you scummy Bruins! Ucla is not nearly as good as us Trojans this year. Here is a fact for you:

          UCLA ALMOST lost against Virginia. Nice try Bruins, but in the land of Troy, “almost” is unacceptable. Unlike you, we were successful in letting BC win. So there!

          You know what kills me Sandy? The Bruins are so stupid! They don’t act like us at all! When a REAL team loses a player, the proper etiquette is the use that as an excuse (ala Hayes Pullard) for losing. Did you notice the lack of protests when Hunley went out? Shows a real lack of understanding.

          You and I don’t like rankings but since these Bruins are so lame I’m going to have to throw this out, just to quiet them down.

          Hey Bruins!!! UCLA is ranked 10, while mighty Troy is ranked 22. See? Our beloved Trojans are ranked higher than the Bruins.

          • Sandy Underpants

            I know UCLA was this offseasons national champions and they’re undefeated after 3 weeks vs the worst teams in football, so you get to continue your offseason party. Good for you. Why would UCLA need to “make excuses” if they won? When Brent goes down again and Jerry isn’t playing the #119 team in the country, UCLA will tear him down and make more excuses than you can count. The Bruins Nation commentors tore UCLA football apart the last 3 games during their live game postings. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of reading their own fans/alumni tearing their team to shreds because they can’t perform.

            3-0? Ha. You’re always 3-0 and then you meet reality. Sun Bowl 4 Life.

          • Danny

            Not sure why you keep lumping me with those Bruins, Sandy. I’m a USC fan/troller just like you. Oops, sorry, I meant to say we are both “neutral outside observers” (didn’t mean to blow our cover)

            Like all in the world of Troy, I **prefer** being 2-1 vs 3-0, as it is part of Sark’s master strategy. Stupid Bruins somehow think that “win one game at a time” will actually lead them somewhere.

            And you know what gets me streamed? It’s the lack of character that the Bruins have demonstrated. When things get tough, they band together and just find a way to win. No style!

            These Bruins need to take a lesson from our Victor Blackwell, or Josh Shaw on how to handle adversity with style.

    • Tommy B Low Us

      Hey smelly underpants. Go back our nobody cares blog and cry on. This is a blog for real fans not little cry baby trolgans like yourself.

  • commentar

    #8 LSU goes down. Everyone move up!

    • Santiago Matamoros

      UCLA’s 3-0 and dropped five spots in the rankings.

      I wouldn’t count on it.

      • commentar

        UCLA hasn’t lost to an unranked team. LSU has. That’s a good enough difference. Missouri at #18 is the next closest 3-0 team behind us and they just lost to Indiana. ( Az st. doesn’t count as we haven’t played yet.)

        Though maybe Mich St. jumps over us but 73-14 against 1-2 E. Michigan doesn’t say much.

        • Sandy Underpants

          Do you think UCLA is a better team than LSU? Because BYU will finish 12-0, but that doesn’t make them a good team. UCLA fans should not talk about anything until they beat Oregon and Stanford. And so far that’s never happened their school’s history.

          • Sark and the Seven Win Wonders

            What brand of crack are you smoking? UCLA v Stanford series record 45-37-3. UCLA series record vs Oregon 39=27.

          • Sandy Underpants

            Yeah, UCLA dominated those programs in the 1900s. UCLA is 0-10 vs. Stanford and Oregon for the past 6 years. They last beat Stanford in 2008 when Stanford went 5-7 on the season. I don’t know if UCLA has beaten Oregon this millenium.

          • RepuBruin

            So it’s OK for you to speak of the past, but Seven Win… does and you poo poo his point; plus, you said *never* to begin this argument. You must be an SC fan.

          • Yogibear

            Funny how Trojans keeps bringing up the past these days. It’s one thing to do that in preseason, but season has already started. I suppose if prospect of your season looks dim, you go over to rival site to talk trash about the past.

          • EncinitasBruin

            And USC is 13-11-1 vs UCLA in the past 25 years. (11-11-1 if you remove the two wins that were vacated during ReggieGate). And 2-0 the past two. Yeah, let’s chuck series records out the window, JB.

          • Sandy Underpants

            You are rambling. I’m talking about current events and the current state of UCLA football. If you haven’t beaten Stanford or Oregon the last 10 times you’ve played them, I don’t think you ought to assume that you’re going to just blow them up this season. I don’t expect USC to beat UCLA, largely becuase UCLA has improved greatly since the Neu/Dorrell years. But I have the ability to reason, something people on this board greatly lack.

          • EncinitasBruin

            Come on Joe. We’ve circled this roundabout before, haven’t we mate? You brought up series history vs Stan and Or as well as all-time series history by saying “UCLA fans should not talk about anything until they beat Oregon and Stanford. And so far that’s never happened their school’s history.” Thus, I answered with a like comparison of SC v UCLA recent vs past history. If you want to talk history, fine. If you want to talk past decade, fine. But you can’t interchange one for the other simply for the sake of the feint. it’s unreasonable, to use your word.

          • commentar

            Watch us talk about it and suck it Sandy! haha

          • commentar

            I do think UCLA is better than BYU. Heck, you’re on the UCLA sports page. You’d expect a little optimism here if anywhere. I’m drinking the kool-aid haha.

            Seems like you’re a skeptic all around Sandy. You take more turns to Negativetown than Mazzone has bubble passes. Relax though. We’re most likely not as intense as BruinNation ppl.

          • Santiago Matamoros

            (Sandy’s a Trojan fan.)

        • Santiago Matamoros

          (I’m not saying that I agree with the polls. I think they ought to be scrapped for a full playoff of conference champs. I’m noting only the “logic” of the AP Poll.)

    • Sark and the Seven Win Wonders

      We might move up to #11, but I doubt #10. Yeah, and Oregon barely beats 1-3 WSU. You think they’ll drop 5 spots in the polls?

      • commentar

        I thought Neuheisel and Co played better against Texas than Florida st. backup against Clemson @ home. Jerry had no prep too.

        • Sandy Underpants

          Isn’t Clemson like 1000 times better than Texas? Maybe more.

          • commentar

            Did you even watch the game? Clemson’s kicker was horrible and they fumbled pretty badly to give away the game in the Fl St. 20.

          • Sandy Underpants

            Yeah I saw it. They looked way better than Texas.

  • Sandy Underpants

    Attention pole watchers. UCLA went from #12 in the latest poll to #11. You can now go back to counting the number of bricks in Royce Hall. Or get back to your poles.

    • EncinitasBruin

      Sandy, you may be a pole watcher (frankly, I don’t even want to know what that is), but at UCLA, we don’t worry about polls. We just keep winning and let the sportswriters vote how they want.

      • Sandy Underpants

        At UCLA you most not read the comments section…. like 4 inches below your own comment. Because those are all the jabronies I’m addressing.

        Read On!

    • Danny

      I agree with you Sandy!

      As a fellow Trojan fan it galls me how the Bruin leader, Jim Mora, focuses on rankings

      In fact every single video I’ve seen of him, he’s talking about how important rankings are to the team….

      Well…ok maybe not every video, but most of them…

      Well…ok maybe none.

      Truth be told, the only video I’ve seen with Mora commenting on the rankings is when he said “I don’t pay attention to rankings”

      But if once I use my Trojan translator, I hear “rankings mean everything”. QED

      If you excuse me now, I am going to look at our shiny trophies that old people won long ago.

      • Sandy Underpants

        If you could remove your head from Jim Mora’s posterior long enough to read the board you’re typing on you will find 9 Bruins discussing and arguing and whining about the rankings and trying to justify why they deserve to move up in the rankings because LSU lost. Those are the people I’m addressing. Jim Mora is irrelevant, just like his Sun Bowl trophy (you know the only one you put in your football trophy case this millenium (ouuuuuch)).

        • Danny

          Once again, I couldn’t agree with you more! We Trojan fans need to stick together!

          You are right, Mora is a nobody. In fact, the next time one of those stinking Bruin fans tries to rub our faces in it about the success of their coach, we should just remind them of the mighty Sark and his record in bowl games. THAT would shut them up!

          As for those Bruin fans commenting….man, what a piece of work they are….can you imagine the nerve of them talking UCLA football on OUR site?

          I say we ban all trollers.

          • Sandy Underpants

            Ummm… UCLA hasn’t even played in a Bowl as prestigious as the Holiday Bowl this century, look it up. And the Holiday Bowl isn’t prestigious. Sun Bowl < Holiday Bowl.

          • Danny

            Good point, my fellow Son of Troy.

            Sark did win the Holiday Bowl four years ago.

            I can say this was his greatest bowl win ever. The second best bowl win was….oh wait, that was his only bowl win.

            In any case, as a Trojan fan, I am hoping that Sark continues his winning tradition. As they say in politics “Four more years! Four more years!”

            “Hurray for Sark!”

  • 92104bruinfan

    Agree with Mora on Kelly. Complete pain in the a** to play. He doesn’t do any one thing great but everything well. I’m sure Bercovici will bring it in front of a Thursday night crowd in Tempe but Kelly’s running ability was a HUGE part of the Devil offense. Go Bruins!