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    UCLA hosts Arizona State with room for improvement
    • November 10, 2023

    Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham’s visit to the Rose Bowl will serve as a reunion with UCLA true freshman quarterback Dante Moore this week.

    Dillingham had been in pursuit of Moore back when he was coaching at Florida State and continued to recruit the quarterback when he became the offensive coordinator at Oregon in 2022.

    Committed to Oregon, Moore began to explore his options after Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Bo Nix decided to stay for another season with the Ducks and Dillingham left to become head coach at his alma mater.

    Now with the Bruins (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12), Moore may potentially start or share time Saturday evening at the Rose Bowl with Collin Schlee after Ethan Garbers suffered a foot injury last week against Arizona.

    Moore also suffered an undisclosed injury and was seen walking back to the locker room during the second half. He and Garbers were seen participating during the media viewing period at practice this week, but Garbers was moving around gingerly.

    When UCLA has the ball

    While it remains to be seen what Coach Chip Kelly will do at quarterback this week, the Bruins must protect and keep possession of the football.

    Running backs Carson Steele and TJ Harden will have to be involved early before the Bruins attempt to pass against the Sun Devils (2-7, 1-5).

    The Bruins weren’t effective in the run game in last week’s 27-10 loss at Arizona. Schlee was the Bruins’ leading rusher with 46 yards. Steele had 38 yards on eight carries and Harden had 30 yards on nine carries. Arizona State’s rush defense ranks 44th in the nation, allowing 131.9 yards per game.

    It will also be important for the Bruins to capitalize on scoring opportunities deep in Sun Devils territory.

    “We have to convert in the red zone. We had four trips down there (against the Wildcats) and only came away with 10 points,” Kelly said. “We have to do a better job with our red-zone efficiency.”

    Kelly expressed the need to get seven points instead of settling for three, but even field goals have been hard to come by.

    Kicker Blake Glessner saw his first action as the primary kicker, replacing R.J. Lopez against Arizona. Glessner went 1 for 3, making a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter but missing a pair of 42-yard attempts in the first half. Lopez had struggled through the first eight games, missing five of his 11 attempts.

    When Arizona State has the ball

    The Bruins’ defense is coming off its worst statistical performance of the season, allowing a season-high 300 passing yards and matching a season-high three touchdowns that caused some dissension.

    “We will have to play disciplined and structured football,” UCLA linebacker Oluwafemi Oladejo said about the balanced scheme that ASU presents. “We need to have great vision.”

    Running back Cam Skattebo, a transfer from Sacramento State, has proven to be a nice addition for Arizona State. Skattebo has rushed for 570 yards and seven touchdowns rushing and collected 273 receiving yards and a touchdown on 20 receptions out of the backfield.

    Receiver Elijah Badger and tight end Jalin Conyers are the Sun Devils’ two leading pass catchers with a combined 843 yards and two touchdowns.

    It’s varied week to week on which Sun Devils quarterback is leading the offense this season.

    “We’re really just looking at the scheme overall,” UCLA safety Will Nimmo Jr. said. “We know all of them are good mobile quarterbacks, so we have to cover down and have people in the right passing lanes.”

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    Kelly would also like to see the Bruins step up on third downs after Arizona was successful 11 out of 16 times last week.

    “We’ve been very good on third down and we weren’t what we normally are,” Kelly said about the defense’s most recent performance.

    Linebacker Darius Muasau leads UCLA with 51 tackles this season. Edge rusher Laiatu Latu has produced 16 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks.

    Arizona State (2-7 overall, 1-5 Pac-12) at UCLA (6-3, 3-3)

    When: 6 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Rose Bowl

    TV/radio: Pac-12 Networks/570 AM

    ​ Orange County Register