Sun Devils' explosive offense faces test against UCLA

Updated: October 24, 2003, 5:47 PM ET

PASADENA, Calif. -- Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter knows the Sun Devils have to be wary of the UCLA Bruins' opportunistic defense.

"The front seven for UCLA is really good. They have a great defense," he said. "In the Pac-10, everybody has talent, and they're going to be ready to go."

With their defense and special teams making big plays, the Bruins (5-2, 3-0 Pac-10) have won four in a row despite being inconsistent on offense.

"They're undefeated in the conference and tied for the lead. They're finding ways to win every week in conference play," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said. "They're very strong defensively."

UCLA's defense features end Dave Ball, who has 11.5 sacks in seven games; tackle Rodney Leisle, who scored key touchdowns with a fumble recovery and an interception return in two recent wins; and linebacker Brandon Chillar, who is averaging 11.6 tackles a game. He returned a blocked field goal attempt 65 yards last week in a 23-20 overtime win over California.

When they line up Saturday night at the Rose Bowl against Walter & Co., the Bruins' defenders will face a Sun Devils' attack that averaged 373 yards passing, 547 yards of total offense and 46 points in winning the last two games.

ASU (4-3, 1-2) scored on the final play last weekend to take a 33-31 victory over North Carolina. The Sun Devils beat Oregon 59-14 the game before that.

"I think they are hitting on all cylinders right now at the right time of the season," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "They are moving the ball as well as anybody."

The Bruins hope to crank up their own offense with the return of quarterback Matt Moore, who will make his third career start.

Moore went out with a bruised left knee in the team's season-opening 16-14 loss at Colorado, and Drew Olson has started since then.

Olson went 9-of-20 last weekend as the Bruins held on to beat California when the Golden Bears' Tyler Frederickson hit the left upright with his 50-yard field goal try in overtime.

Dorrell, who used Moore briefly in the Bruins' 24-21 win at Arizona then didn't play him against Cal, believes the sophomore quarterback is ready to go.

"I think he's back to 100 percent of his skills both physically and mentally," Dorrell said. "Drew Olson did a great job for us, in terms of helping keep things together and generating some wins.

"I think Matt, given a full week of preparation for this game against Arizona State, will do a great job of getting back to his role as the starting quarterback."

Dorrell said when Moore was hurt that the quarterback wouldn't lose his job because of the injury. The coach decided to start him this week "in the best interest of where we are trying to head in the final five games."

Craig Bragg is the Bruins' leading receiver, with 39 catches for 573 yards and two touchdowns.

Walter, who threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Skyler Fulton as time expired to pull out the win over North Carolina, has completed 148 of 271 for 1,921 yards, with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Sun Devils wide receiver Derek Hagan has three consecutive 100-yard receiving games, including 11 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown against North Carolina. He has 38 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns this year.

The Sun Devils and Bruins didn't play each other last year. The Bruins won a 52-42 shootout at the Rose Bowl in 2001.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PDT. The Bruins, who hold a 12-6-1 all-time edge in the series, are favored by three points.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index