Arizona State Sun Devils "Brock" and Roll Over the UCLA Bruins
Dennis Erickson could not have planned Friday's Senior Day victory versus UCLA any better. During Arizona State's bye week last week, Brock Osweiler was lucky enough to receive increased repetitions with the first-team offense, and create a bit of competition at quarterback.
Now, obviously Erickson did not envision starting quarterback Steven Threet to be sidelined late in the first quarter with a concussion, but the ASU coaching staff did not panic.
Osweiler, a sophomore from Kalispell, MT, was inserted into the game and looked comfortable from the first snap, even though the Sun Devils trailed the Bruins by 17 points.
After Osweiler trotted out to call the signals, the Sun Devils responded with three passing touchdowns in the first half. Osweiler led ASU into the locker room with a 21-20 halftime lead, and the Sun Devils never looked back.
The UCLA Bruins (4-7, 2-6) didn't know what hit them. After jumping out to a major first half lead, Osweiler's 380 passing yards and five total touchdowns were two statistical categories that defined the outcome of the game.
After the contest, Erickson said, "He didn’t turn the football over, he didn’t make any mistakes, and he is a tremendous athlete."
Sure, a tremendous athlete goes far, but if that great athlete cannot protect the football, then he is useless.
Friday afternoon, Sun Devil fans were finally able to witness what Noel Mazzone's offensive system looks like when the quarterback is secure with the football.
Although only 44,555 fans were in attendance to see the offensive display, the nearly 600 yards of total offense was the eye-popping statistic.
The Sun Devils (5-6, 3-5) were a well-oiled machine, and the Bruins were stuck in neutral as the scoreboard read 55-34.
Arizona State forced the normally run-oriented UCLA Bruins into passing the ball 56 times in the contest. The Bruins had success with Richard Brehaut at quarterback, but that was because the Sun Devils shutdown UCLA's running game.
Although, UCLA's 121 yards rushing looks "decent", but compared to the Bruins' 2010 average of 185 yards, the Sun Devils took away the threat of a running game.
UCLA became predictable and one dimensional. On the other hand, the ASU Sun Devils looked imaginative with their play calling, and precise with their execution.
Not only was Osweiler impressive from start to finish, but he found eight different receivers during the game.
T.J. Simpson has been the Sun Devils' leading receiver the past few games, but on Friday, that role was reserved for Deantre Lewis.
Lewis, a freshman running back from Norco, Calif., led the Sun Devils with six catches for 105 yards against the UCLA Bruins, and dwarfed Simpson's 78 yards, one-catch performance.
One might say the ASU passing attack was on fire in the desert, but the 384 yards and four touchdowns ended the Bruins' bowl hopes.
The stats are nice to analyze after a game like this, and I am sure the players in the locker room are enjoying the feeling as well, but the UCLA Bruins looked like a FCS opponent on Friday.
Now, that is not necessarily a shot at UCLA or head coach Rick Neuheisel, but more of a tip of the hat to ASU's production in all three phases of the game.
To be honest, the only comparable performances ASU has had before Friday, came against Division 1-AA, or FCS opponents.
In fact, the Sun Devils scored more points on Friday against UCLA, than ASU put up on Portland State (54) or Northern Arizona (41) of the Big Sky Conference.
However, on Senior Day, the Sun Devils and the coaches knew that their best was expected and necessary against UCLA. The Bruins were fighting for their bowl lives, and came out fast.
Even an injury to the Sun Devils' starting quarterback could not hinder the maroon and gold's success.
The report, during and after the game, regarding Steven Threet revolved around a concussion. For Threet, that makes concussion number two in the last five games.
With bowl hopes on the line in Tucson next week, one quarterback left the game early with an injury, and his replacement entered the game and overworked the scoreboard.
After the game, everyone asked, "Who is going to start next week against the Arizona Wildcats?"
Believe it or not, Erickson did not say one, single name. In fact, Erickson stated, "I don't know, I really don't know!"
That quote might be hard to believe after a tremendous game by Osweiler, and a rather pedestrian season by Threet.
In all of sports, the coaches, teammates, players and personnel know that sticking with the hot hand is usually rewarding, but eventually that hot hand cools down.
Until that time comes, get your No. 17 jerseys and keep drinking the "Brock and Roll" Kool-Aid.
I think we all know who will be taking the snaps at Arizona Stadium versus the Wildcats.
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