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Graham gives formula to ASU’s success, looks ahead to UCLA game

(Brad Tollefson/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal via AP)
LISTEN: Todd Graham, ASU Football Head Coach

It’s always a positive thing when a team has developed an identity and knows what they need to do win games down the stretch.

Arizona State has an opportunity to become bowl eligible when they travel to UCLA this Saturday.

The Sun Devils have won three of their last four games and have followed a model that ASU head coach Todd Graham has implemented.

“For our football team to be successful we have to control the ball on offense,” Graham said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s  Doug & Wolf Friday. “It’s about snaps, we got to be able to run the football and we have to keep their offense off the field.

“Every game that we won, we got to halftime and we had over 40 plays on offense and the other team has 20 or less.”

ASU is second in the Pac-12 in highest time of possession per game with 32 minutes of ball control. In their Pac-12 wins, they had the ball for an average of almost 36 minutes a game.

Graham also stated that with ball control, it’s obvious that you have to take care of the ball as well.

For the Sun Devils, they have done just that as they rank 12th in the nation in protecting the football with only seven turnovers.

ASU’s defense has its evident flaws, but Graham wants his team to focus on just one thing.

“The key on defense is just don’t give up the big play,” Graham said. “Gave up a couple of them last week and could have had a couple more but we dodged a bullet. The Good Lord was looking after us on a couple of them. We’ll take all that we can get.”

In the Colorado game, ASU gave up a 60-yard passing play to running back Phillip Lindsay and a 54-yard passing touchdown to receiver Shay Fields.

The Sun Devils have the 34th-largest yards per play average in the country by giving up six yards a play.

Going into their next matchup, UCLA has explosive quarterback Josh Rosen, who has proven to give opposing teams a handful every time he takes the field.

Overall, UCLA has not played up to expectations heading into this season with a 2-4 record in conference play. Graham still does not view this team as a favorable matchup.

“This is a very good football team,” Graham said. “When you look at the film you see talent just like you see when you watch USC or  Washington. They just have not played well away from home. They score 40 points a game at home.”

Graham has managed to come away victorious in both his trips to UCLA in his coaching tenure. Beyond the standings, the coach knows the importance of performing well in the Southern California area.

Recruiting is arguably the most important thing when it comes to a college football program. Graham has the opportunity to perform well to attract future talent.

“It’s been critical for us to have success,” Graham said. “It’s an area where you can’t be successful in the Pac-12 if you can’t be successful in California recruiting, especially Southern California.”

ASU travels to UCLA on Saturday with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. You can catch the action on ESPN 620 AM

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