UCLA Preview

As the 2009 regular season nears its close, Arizona State finds itself in "must-win" situations in both its remaining games to maintain any postseason hopes. This week's opponent, UCLA, faces a similar task, and the Bruins, led by second year head coach Rick Neuheisel, have a team that has performed in similar fashions to ASU not just in the record column but also in style of play.

Both defenses will look to rattle the inexperience at quarterback for both the Bruins and Sun Devils, while special teams and field position will likely be significant factors toward the outcome of Saturday's game.

Offensive Projected Starting Lineup

QB 14 Kevin Prince RS-Fr. 6-2 219 Los Angeles, Calif.

TB 23 Johnathan Franklin RS-Fr. 5-10 201 Los Angeles, Calif.

FB 42 Chane Moline Sr. 6-1 247 San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

SE 82 Taylor Embree So. 6-3 208 Overland Park, Kan.

FL 4 Terrance Austin Sr. 5-11 172 Long Beach, Calif.

TE 86 Logan Paulsen Sr. 6-5 264 West Hills, Calif.

LT 56 Xavier Su'a-Filo Fr. 6-4 310 Pleasant Grove, Utah

LG 60 Jeff Baca So. 6-4 306 Mission Viejo, Calif.

C 51 Kai Maivia So. 6-1 309 Wailuku, Calif.

RG 66 Ryan Taylor Jr. 6-3 295 Denison, Texas

RT 65 Mike Harris So. 6-5 326 Duarte, Calif.

Offensive Preview

In total, the Bruin offense has been one of the least potent in the Pac-10, as UCLA ranks ninth in scoring offense (22.6), ninth in rushing offense (113.2) and eighth in total offense (345.8) through 10 games this season.

Quarterback Kevin Prince has battled through injuries to submit a respectable redshirt freshman season thus far, completing 132-of-224 passes (58.9 pct.) for 1,578 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions through the air.

Prince has had a solid set of receivers to target, led by starters Taylor Embree (38 catches, 522 yards and two touchdowns) and Terrence Austin (30 catches, 343 yards and three touchdowns). Embree came on strong as a freshman in 2008 and has grown during his second season, while Austin has been a solid, although unspectacular, pass-catcher during his four-year career at UCLA.

Though he has only started one game this year, sophomore Nelson Rosario leads UCLA and ranks ninth in the league in receiving yards-per-game (58.8), having caught 28 passes for 529 yards with one touchdown.

The tight end position, always a strong suit among the Bruin offense, has collectively provided a stable effort this year, as starter Logan Paulsen and reserves Cory Harkey and Ryan Moya have combined for 57 receptions for 544 yards. Former five-star prospect Morrell Presley has missed four games this year and has posted minor contributions of six catches for 42 yards.

Johnathan Franklin has emerged as a highly talented tailback, starting eight of 10 games played and netting 532 yards on 119 carries (4.5 avg.) with five touchdowns, while power back Derrick Coleman has appeared in every game and notched 50 carries for 238 yards (4.8 avg.) with one score. A variety of reserves have also earned snaps at tailback, while starting fullback Chane Moline has seen time both in the passing and running game, having caught 20 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown and rushed eight times for 39 yards.

In addition to relative offensive woes, the Bruins have allowed the second-most sacks (27) in the Pac-10 conference. Along the offensive line, four of the five starters – left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, left guard Jeff Baca, center Kai Maivia and right tackle Mike Harris – have started every game this year, while right guard Ryan Taylor is poised to make his third start in the last four games at a position that has seen four different players see first-team reps this year.

Undoubtedly, the best chance ASU has to gain control of momentum in this matchup is to harass the Bruin offense; a task that is greatly feasible but is essentially crucial to the Sun Devils' success as they have certainly had offensive woes of their own through 10 games this year.

Defensive Projected Starting Lineup LE 56 Datone Jones So. 6-4 267 Compton, Calif.

DT 92 Brian Price Jr. 6-2 300 Los Angeles, Calif.

DT 90 Jerzy Siewerski Sr. 6-2 296 Sparks, Nev.

RE 55 Korey Bosworth Sr. 6-1 242 Plano, Texas

SLB 10 Akeem Ayers So. 6-4 252 Los Angeles, Calif.

MLB 51 Reggie Carter Sr. 6-1 240 Los Angeles, Calif.

WLB 54 Kyle Bosworth Sr. 6-1 234 Plano, Texas

LC 22 Sheldon Price Fr. 6-2 163 Chino Hills, Calif.

SS 6 Tony Dye So. 5-11 199 Corona, Calif.

FS 3 Rahim Moore So. 6-1 197 Los Angeles, Calif.

RC 1 Alterraun Verner Sr. 5-11 180 Carson, Calif.

. Defensive Preview

Though the Bruins have been mediocre offensively, the defense has held firm, ranking second in the league in pass defense (192.4), third in scoring defense (21.4) and fourth in total defense (340.9). Oddly, UCLA has struggled mightily against the run, ranking eighth in the Pac-10 in that category (148.5).

Without question, the Bruin secondary is the top unit on the squad, with solid play from all defensive back positions.

Senior cornerback Alterraun Verner (60 tackles, three interceptions) has been one of the conference's elite cornerbacks during his entire career, while ball hog sophomore free safety Rahim Moore, the nation's leader with nine interceptions, has also collected 35 tackles and has the potential to be a perennial All-America candidate during the remainder of his career.

Strong safety Tony Dye ranks fourth on the team with 59 tackles, while true freshman Sheldon Price has started eight games at cornerback opposite Verner, having collected 34 total tackles.

UCLA's corps of linebackers is one of the Pac-10's strongest, led by veteran middle linebacker Reggie Carter (61 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss), while team-leading tackler Kyle Bosworth (64 tackles, six tackles-for-loss) and Akeem Ayers (49 tackles, four sacks) often wreaks havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Collectively, the Bruins' starting trio ranks among the team's top-five overall tacklers.

Up front, junior Brian Price has become one of the nation's most fearsome defensive tackles and hasn't disappointed in 2009, leading the Pac-10 in tackles-for-loss (16.5) while also leading the league in sacks among defensive tackles (five) and notching 32 total tackles. Tackle Jerzy Siewerski (26 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss) looks to rejoin the starting lineup after missing the past three games, while Jess Ward (19 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss) filled Siewerski's void as a starter recently.

Bookends Korey Bosworth and Datone Jones have been the starting pair at defensive end in every game, and the duo has performed at a high level all year long, combining for 68 tackles, 19 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks.

The Bruin defense has the potential to provide a stiff test to ASU and first-time starter Samson Szakacsy both in front seven pressure and stern coverage from the secondary. For the Sun Devils to win this exchange, the Sun Devil offensive line will need to be assertive at the point of attack and the rushing and short passing game will need to be efficient to progressively move the chains for ASU.

Special Teams Lineup and Preview

K 25 Kai Forbath Jr. 6-0 192 Pacific Palisades, Calif.

P 18 Jeff Locke RS-Fr. 6-1 204 Glendale, Ariz.

KR 4 Terrance Austin Sr. 5-11 172 Long Beach, Calif.

25 Damien Thigpen Fr. 5-8 170 Gainesville, Va.

PR 4 Terrance Austin Sr. 5-11 172 Long Beach, Calif.

By this point, it should come as no surprise that Kai Forbath ranks among the nation's elite kickers, as he has been deadly all three years he's played at UCLA. This year, Forbath has connected on 92-percent of his kicks (23-of-25), including a perfect 20-of-20 from inside 40 yards.

Redshirt freshman and Arizona native Jeff Locke has been one of the top rookie specialists in the league, leading the Pac-10 with a 44.5-yard average on 48 punts.

As he has done during the majority of his career, Terrance Austin serves as the Bruins' primary returns specialist both on kickoffs and punts, averaging 25.6 yards on 32 kickoff returns and 9.2 yards on 25 punt returns. True freshman Damien Thigpen has seen spot duty on kickoff returns, averaging 18.0 yards on four runbacks.

Overall Expectations

Though ASU has taken the past two years' meetings with UCLA, Pasadena has greatly been unkind to the Sun Devils recently, with a win in 2007 being the only victory ASU's taken at the Rose Bowl since 1996.

Both teams enter the games in similar positions, with postseason hopes on life support for both squads. It will likely be a defensive battle, as both offenses have struggled this season, while a pair of young quarterbacks will have the onus of responsibility to not make costly errors.

ASU has had little offensive continuity in recent weeks, however Samson Szakacsy quickly gave the Devils a spark in a losing effort at Oregon last week and has the ability and charisma to provide a motivated effort as the Sun Devils look to break a four-game losing skid.

Injury News and Roster Notes

- Samson Szakacsy will start at quarterback, backed up by Danny Sullivan. Last week's starter Brock Osweiler will probably not see the field in Pasadena.

With Matt Hustad out for the season, Tom Njunje will start at right tackle.

- Dan Knapp out for the season, Jovon Williams will start at tight end.

- Travis Goethel will start at SAM linebacker, and back up at MIKE with Gerald Munns out for the season.

- Cornerback Terell Carr who was suspended all of last week returned to practice on Wednesday. It is however unclear whether he plays on Saturday.

- Five Questions: ASU at UCLA

How will Samson Szakacsy fare in his first career collegiate start at quarterback for ASU?

- How will ASU's offense operate with its third different starting quarterback in as many games?

- Which defense will be able to limit the opposing offense more effectively?

- Will the Sun Devils play with a sense of urgency as they face a "must-win" situation to preserve postseason hopes?

- Will the offense operate any differently with the athletic Szakacsy under center?

- Familiar Faces

- Defensive End Chinonso Anyanwu, linebacker Reggie Carter and defensive tackle Brian Price attended Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, the same school as ASU safety Clint Floyd. Price and Floyd were prep teammates.

- Freshman Dalton Hilliard attended Punahou School in Hawaii, the same high school as ASU wide receiver Brian Matsumoto.

- Punter Jeff Locke (Glendale Mountain Ridge High School) is an Arizona native.

- Safety Glenn Love attended Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton High School, where he was a teammate of ASU's Patrick Jamison, Gerald Munns, Colin Parker, Gerell Robinson and Kerry Taylor.

- Linebacker Mike Schmitt was a teammate of ASU safety Jarrell Holman at Phoenix (Ariz.) College and also graduated from Peoria (Ariz.) Cactus High School.

- Safety Aaron Ware attended Oaks Christian High School in Westlake, Calif., the same school as ASU tight end Christopher Coyle.


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