Inconsistency dooms ASU football in loss to UCLA Bruins

A shaky overall performance cost the Sun Devils a win in Pasadena

The search for bowl eligibility continues as ASU football couldn’t hang onto its 14-0 first quarter lead against the UCLA Bruins (5-5, 3-4), losing 44-37 on the road. 

Fresh off their best rushing performance of the season, the Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3) weren’t shy about taking it to the Bruins via the ground game. 

Both senior running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage carried the ball 21 times. Richard ran for 125 yards and Ballage racked up 97. 

It goes without saying sophomore wide receivers N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams continued their season-long success. Both hauled in six catches and completed over 85 receiving yards. Not to mention, redshirt junior wide receiver Jalen Harvey was heavily involved, racking up 74 yards on six receptions. 

“I could’ve done a better job in areas of the game – I could’ve done a lot better at times,” Harry said. “Focus on the stuff I need to focus on … there’s still games left.” 

Ultimately the loss falls on both sides of the ball, but the offense had 98 offensive plays to score, which is 24 more plays than they average per game. Not to mention, redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins and company kept the ball for a little more than 12 minutes longer than the Bruins. 

ASU’s 36 minutes of possession was the longest the team has had the ball in a loss all season.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Sun Devils seemed outclassed against UCLA’s junior quarterback Josh Rosen

“Obviously Rosen is a great player, and we didn’t sack him one time,” head coach Todd Graham said. “I think we missed him four or five times. We should’ve had four or five sacks, but you got to give him credit there. He’s gonna get his yards.”

The NFL prospect threw for 381 yards and found the end zone twice, once through the air and another on the ground.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Jordan Lasley was responsible for 42 percent of Rosen’s passing yards. His 162 receiving yards were a personal best, and they paired nicely with his seven receptions and fourth-quarter touchdown. 

In his first game back from a concussion, Rosen portrayed himself as poised and elite among the ASU defense, a Sun Devil defense that failed for the first time all year to bring down an opposing quarterback. 

ASU’s loss is the outcome of inconsistency on both sides of the ball. 

The Sun Devils quarter scoring totals were as follows: 14, 7, 13 and 3. The Bruins totals were more consistent throughout the evening at 7, 13, 14 and 10.

If team’s performance were to be described, the best word would be sporadic.  

There were times of crisp blocking resulting in chunk plays by Wilkins or Richard. Then there were questionable play calls to go with miscues along the offensive line. 

Defensively, the same flow was reciprocated. Tight coverage in the secondary soon collapsed after poor containment from the defensive line. 

Then it would swap.

“We just didn’t execute man,” senior defensive lineman Tashon Smallwood said. 

Smallwood is known to be one of the leaders on the Sun Devils’ defense, but tonight’s game slipped away from him and the rest of the team. 

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have won this game … but the season is not over,” Smallwood said.” We still got two games and them two games that we plan on winning.” 

The Sun Devils' next game will be at Oregon State on Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. MST. 

 Reach the reporter at or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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