One of the positive signs for Arizona State for the final third of the season is that running back Cameron Marshall says he's as healthy as he has been all season.
Marshall has forged ahead most of the season on a bum ankle, often missing practice during the week but always showing up for games. A recent bye allowed the ankle to get stronger, and Marshall responded last week with 15 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns vs. Colorado.
There has been a lot of pressure on Marshall to produce because expected second-stringer Deantre Lewis is redshirting while he rehabs injuries suffered in a February shooting.
"Having Cameron hurt all year has not only hurt Cameron, but it has hurt us a little bit," said quarterback Brock Osweiler.
"Cameron has fought through it every single week. He's gone out there and played his heart out but now, just to have him healthy really gives him that extra gear that maybe he hadn't had prior to this game.
"It's hard to tell because Cameron's a warrior and has gone out every single week, never complained at all and has played his butt off. Just to have him healthy, I think, gives him a lot of extra confidence."'
Marshall, a junior, has rushed 137 times for 632 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He has 23 career rushing touchdowns, which is tied for sixth in school history.
"I didn't even know I was anything all-time," Marshall told the Arizona Republic. "I'm not focused on that. I just want to do the best I can for the team from here on out and score as many touchdowns as I can."
He'll look for more this week at UCLA, which is 83rd nationally in rushing at 184.6 yards per game. Most opponents focus on stopping ASU's spread passing game, but Marshall is a good fit as the single back.
"One of the things that makes our offense so effective is we've got playmakers everywhere," Marshall said in the Republic. "That's difficult to stop. You have to figure out how to match up with these wideouts and you leave too many guys out of the box then how are you supposed to stop the run game?"
--ASU, which had 11 penalties for 106 yards last week against Colorado, leads the nation with 80.13 penalty yards per game. The Sun Devils are 115th nationally with 8.0 penalties per game.
--DE Junior Onyeali returned last week after missing four games because of torn meniscus in his left knee, suffered in a game on Sept. 17. He didn't have a tackle vs. Colorado on Saturday. "(He looked) rusty, but he was healthy," said coach Dennis Erickson. "You think you're in shape, but you're not in shape until you start playing. He made some plays, but like I said, he hasn't played for a long time. He'll be better this week."
--ASU's game at Washington State will be a late-night affair. It was announced Monday that it will start at 7:30 p.m. PT, which will be 8:30 p.m. in Arizona. The game will be televised by Versus.
SERIES HISTORY: UCLA leads Arizona State 16-10-1 (last meeting, 2010, 55-34 ASU)
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: UCLA had three sacks last week, but has not been a sack-happy outfit this season, which bodes well for Osweiler, who has multiple good targets in the team's four-wide spread. Look for Osweiler to continue to get the ball to WR Gerell Robinson, who has 310 yards in receptions in the past three games. Osweiler needs to be wary of UCLA's emerging safety, Tevin McDonald, a redshirt freshman who had three INTs last week vs. Cal. ASU is third in the conference in passing (294.5 yards per game) and third in scoring (35.9 points per game).
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: ASU has overcome multiple key injuries on defense this season, but has survived because there is still front-line talent (such as LB Vontaze Burfict) and an attacking scheme has created a high number of turnovers. The Sun Devils are fifth nationally in turnover margin at 1.5 per game and they are fourth in turnovers gained with 25. "That's an amazing statistic to have that many turnovers," coach Dennis Erickson said. The run defense will have be on top of its game against UCLA's Pistol attack. Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman are a formidable at running back, while the coaches freed the reins on QB Kevin Prince last week to run more. The quarterback run game is the trickiest part of UCLA's offense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have a great deal of respect for Rick (Neuheisel) and the things he has gone through, and for those guys to step up like they stepped up after that tough game against Arizona. They played a great Cal team and won it convincingly. They have good football players." -- Coach Dennis Erickson, on UCLA.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Arizona State at UCLA, Nov. 5 -- The Sun Devils, who are 4-1 in conference play, lead UCLA by one game in the Pac-12 South and can essentially wrap up the division with a victory in the Rose Bowl. "This is what we have been working towards all season," said QB Brock Osweiler. "We understand that to meet our end-of-season goals, this is one of those football games that we have to have." The 4-4 Bruins are coming of a win over Cal but haven't won consecutive games all season.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Hit Kevin Prince. UCLA's offense, which was short-handed last week at receiver because of suspensions, focused more on the quarterback run game in the Pistol offense, and Prince ran for a career-high 163 yards against Cal. ASU can discourage that running by making sure Prince pays a price for each run. He was just 9 of 18 for 92 yards through the air last week, and the Devils probably would prefer to see him drop back than to take off.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Brock Osweiler -- He has been steady and effective in his first season as the starter, with more than 250 passing yards in all but one game. The exception was vs. USC, whose Tampa 2 defense kept ASU in front of it all game, and Osweiler managed 223 yards on 25 of 32 completions. "With every single game that I start and finish, I am becoming more comfortable," he said. "I understand things at a higher and quicker level. I am seeing coverages, little things that I might not have seen a year ago, maybe even three weeks ago. Now, I am making little checks and it turns out to be a touchdown or something."
WR Jamal Miles -- One of the top playmakers in the country, Miles has 36 catches for 257 yards, 23 rushes for 193 yards (many of those runs are laterals), 11 punt returns for a 15.9-yard average and 17 kick returns for a 22.5-yard average. He has seven total touchdowns.
LB Vontaze Burfict -- The junior middle linebacker should be busy against UCLA, defending the Bruins' downhill running game out of the Pistol formation. He has 45 tackles, including six for loss.
--CB Deveron Carr suffered a concussion against Colorado and his status for this week's game at UCLA wasn't known on Monday as he still needed to undergo more testing. "In talking with our trainer, I feel like he'll be OK," coach Dennis Erickson said.
--Starting LT Evan Finkenberg missed the Colorado game because of a knee injury. He likely would be able to play at UCLA in a backup role, coach Dennis Erickson said. Look for Dan Knapp and Aderious Simmons to start at the tackle positions.
--RB Deantre Lewis, who has been recovering from a hamstringbuttocks injury suffered in a random shooting in February, will redshirt this season. Lewis rushed for 539 yards last as a true freshman last season.
--All-Pac-10 CB Omar Bolden, who suffered a spring ACL injury, is working his way back toward a possible return this season. Coach Dennis Erickson said he is leaving the decision up to the senior and his family.