UCLA: Jamal Miles

5 things to watch: Arizona State at UCLA

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
6:49
AM PT

1. BALANCE THE SCALES

Last year, UCLA got into a shootout with Arizona State, but couldn't keep pace in a 55-34 loss despite getting out to a 17-0 lead. Quarterback Richard Brehaut completed 33 of 56 passes, setting school records for both attempts and completions. But UCLA's offense is not built for that type of attack, especially with Kevin Prince--a more run-oriented quarterback--behind center. The Bruins rushed a season-high 52 times for 294 yards last week, but Arizona State is more vulnerable through the air, ranking 84th in the nation in pass defense and 54th against the run, so finding some balance will be essential if the Bruins want to play tho their own strengths while also taking advantage of Arizona State's weakness.

ASUUCLA2. COVERING THE MILES

Arizona State receiver Jamal Miles is one of four Arizona State receivers with 24 or more receptions, so the UCLA defensive backfield will have its hands full dealing with the Sun Devils spread attack, but Miles creates problems at other places, too. He has 36 receptions, including a team-high five touchdowns receiving, but has also scored on a punt return and a kickoff return this season. He also threw a touchdown pass on a trick play. He's sixth in the nation with a 15.91 punt return average and had a back-breaking 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last year against UCLA that gave Arizona State a 38-27 lead.

3. THIRD DOWN IS THE CHARM

UCLA's struggles on third down defense have been well-documented, but Arizona State hasn't had that problem. The Sun Devils have allowed opponents to convert only 30 of 108 (27.78 percent) third down plays. that's ranks No. 4 in the nation and leads the Pac-12. That means keeping drives alive will prove difficult for the Bruins, who want to grind out long drives and chew up clock. The Bruins defense, which showed improvement in holding California to two of 12 third down conversions, must come up big again to keep Arizona's potent offense off the field. The Bruins are still No. 117 in the nation in third down defense at 52.07 percent.

4. HOLD ON TIGHT

Arizona State is one of the top teams in the nation when it comes to forcing turnovers with 25 for the season. That's good enough to rank No. 4 in the country and leads the Pac-12. They've forced 24 turnovers the last six games after only one the first two games. And the Sun Devils are equal-opportunity ball hawks with 13 interceptions and 12 fumbles recoveries. Ball security has been a bit of an issue with UCLA, which ranks No. 105 in the nation with 10 fumbles lost this season. Kevin Prince has not had a pass intercepted in two consecutive games, but he's never gone three straight without an interception.

5. STAY COOL

It's no secret that Arizona State like to play a physical style in an attempt to intimidate. The Sun Devils are tied for the most penalty yards in the country this season with 641 and their 80.13 penalty yards per game are the most of any team. They have 64 total penalties, which ranks as the seventh most in the nation. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is the poster boy for the nasty boys and the Bruins can't let him or other Arizona State players get in their heads and out of their games.

First look: Arizona State at UCLA

November, 1, 2011
11/01/11
10:58
AM PT
Don't tell anyone at UCLA, but the Bruins' game against No. 19 Arizona State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl is for first place in the Pac-12 South.

UCLA isn't discussing the implications of the game because they got caught looking ahead two weeks ago when they had a chance to get into first place and then laid a mighty egg during a 48-12 loss at Arizona.

In order to compete against the Sun Devils and forge that tie atop the standings, the Bruins will have to stop one of the nation's top quarterbacks -- again.

Arizona State's Brock Osweiler is No. 16 in the nation with 2,275 yards passing. He will be the seventh quarterback UCLA has faced this season who ranks among the top 25 in the nation in passing yards. Case Keenum (Houston, No. 1), Nick Foles (Arizona, 3), Andrew Luck (Stanford, 18), Sean Mannion (Oregon State, 19), Marshall Lobbestael (Washington State, 24) and Zach Maynard (California, 25) are the others.

Osweiler leads a no-huddle spread attack that is averaging 294 yards passing per game and 35.88 points per game. He has passed for 250 yards or more in all but one game this season and has 17 touchdown passes. Last year, in a 55-34 victory over UCLA, Osweiler had 380 yards passing and four touchdowns -- both career highs.

But that game is something else UCLA isn't talking about this week. The Bruins raced to a 17-0 lead in that Thanksgiving weekend game, but couldn't keep pace with the high-powered Arizona State offense.

The Sun Devils' attack isn't all Osweiler. Running back Cameron Marshall is averaging 79 yards rushing to rank seventh in the Pac-12. He has two 100-yard games this season and rushed for three touchdowns last week against Colorado. He had 147 yards rushing last year against UCLA.

And Osweiler has several weapons in the passing game: Four receivers have 24 or more receptions and six players have caught touchdown passes. Gerrell Robinson is the big-play threat averaging 17 yards per catch, but possession receiver Jamal Miles might be more dangerous.

Miles is tied with Robinson for the team lead in receptions with 36, leads the team in receiving touchdowns with five and is the only player in the nation to have scored a touchdown on a reception, kickoff return and punt return as well as throw a touchdown pass.

And the Sun Devils are plenty talented on the other side of the ball with Vontaze Burfict, one of the most feared linebackers in the country, leading the way. Burfict (6-3, 252) has the kind of speed that allows him to make plays all over the field and intimidates with his physical style of play. He has 45 tackles this season, including a team-leading four sacks.

With many teams scheming around Burfict, outside linebacker Colin Parker has emerged as the team tackles leader with 49. Where the Sun Devils have shown some vulnerability, however, is in pass defense. They are giving up 240.25 yards per game through the air with a secondary that has played without top cover man Omar Bolden all season because of a knee injury.

That pass defense is No. 80 in the nation, though the Sun Devils lead the Pac-12 with 13 interceptions. Clint Floyd and Alden Darby each have three picks for the ball-hawking Sun Devils, who lead the conference and are fourth in the nation with 25 turnovers forced.

Also of note, defensive end Junior Onyeali, the Pac-10 freshman defensive player of the year last year after recording 11.5 tackles for a loss, returned last week from a knee injury that held him out since Sept. 17. He did not have a tackle in limited action against Colorado, but should get an increased role as he gets back into game shape.

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