Arizona State 38, UCLA 23: Quarterback Josh Rosen

UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen went 22 of 40 against Arizona State on Saturday, finishing with 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the 38-23 loss. It was the third time this season that he has failed to complete more than 55 percent of his passes.

“I just need to learn the slow the game down before the snap,” he said. “Sometimes, I get up and just want to snap the ball, get going. But I feel like I need to be able to take that deep breath before hand and assess everything.”

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VIDEO: UCLA coach Jim Mora talks about Bruins’ 38-23 loss to ASU

No. 7 UCLA’s first loss of the season was a 38-23 upset to unranked Arizona State, one that saw the Bruins’ offense go scoreless in the first and third quarters. The home team started the game with three three-and-outs, and punted on five of its first six drives. The lone exception was a safety.

“We made it difficult on ourselves,” head coach Jim Mora said. “We have to own it, which we will, all of us — starting with me. … We have to find a way to get better, to learn from it, and move on. That’s what I’ll do.

“The one thing I appreciate is I think they’ve got tremendous heart and tremendous fight. That wasn’t enough tonight.”

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What to watch: No. 7 UCLA vs. Arizona State

The hype is gathering again for UCLA, ranked as high as it’s ever been during the Jim Mora era and looking as capable as any other team in a wide-open Pac-12.

The No. 7 Bruins are set to host Arizona State at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, considered a trap game only because that’s the cliche when a superior team is facing an obviously lesser one.

Working in UCLA’s favor are two factors: It has a bye week after this, so there isn’t much to peek forward to; and coaches and players have lambasted the defense’s performance in Tucson despite a 56-30 win, putting an additional chip on the Bruins’ collective shoulder.

Barring a significant collapse for the Bruins (4-0, 1-0), the struggling Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1) don’t look like the team that will spoil their perfect start.

When UCLA has the ball

The offense has been as about as potent as anyone could have hoped heading into the season, with freshman quarterback Josh Rosen capably guiding a crew of veterans into the end zone.

UCLA’s primary hiccups have come in the red zone. While it sits just outside the national top 25 in yards per game (482.5), it ranks just No. 71 in red-zone conversion. Meanwhile, Rosen has hit speed bumps as well, looking like an NFL-ready passer in his career debut against Virginia before slowing down against UNLV and BYU. Continue reading

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Five questions: Arizona Republic’s Doug Haller on Arizona State

UCLA responded to losing three defensive starters in a big way last weekend, rolling out to a 56-30 win at then-No. 16 Arizona. Can the No. 7 Bruins keep it going against an Arizona State team that might be the most disappointing in the conference? Doug Haller, who is covering his sixth season of ASU football for the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, answered five questions about the Sun Devils.

1. During Arizona State’s 42-14 loss to USC last Saturday, you called this the worst half of football you’d seen out of the Sun Devils in your time covering them. What set this apart from their performances in other blowout losses?

Mostly, the overall sloppiness. They fumbled twice in USC territory — once at the 1-yard line. That one was picked up and returned for a touchdown. Then on the ensuing kick-off, ASU’s returner made a poor decision to bring the ball out of the end zone and fumbled. So that gave USC 14 points in about 30 seconds. Contributing: The defense tackled as poorly as it has all season and couldn’t get off the field on third down. It was ugly.

2. Mike Bercovici’s numbers haven’t slipped that far overall compared to last season, but against Texas A&M and the Trojans, he’s only completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 471 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Was he playing over his head during his three-game tear in 2014, or was that stretch closer to his true abilities?

When I think back to his performance last season, I always wonder: Had that last-season Hail Mary fallen incomplete, giving Bercovici one win in three starts, how would that have changed the offseason excitement? It’s a hard question to answer. Either way, here’s what’s changed: Last year, ASU had a solid offensive line. This season it has two first-time starters at tackle. Continue reading

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