The battle of the running games: Arizona State vs. UCLA

Dec 4, 2020, 7:13 PM
Arizona State running back Chip Trayanum (1) scores a touchdown ahead of Southern California safety...

Arizona State running back Chip Trayanum (1) scores a touchdown ahead of Southern California safety Isaiah Pola-Mao (21) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

So far this season, Arizona State and UCLA have proved they can run the ball.

The two teams will put their rushing attacks to the test when they play Saturday night in Tempe for what will be ASU’s first home game.

“First home game in December, who would have thought,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.

ASU finally returns to the schedule after a three-week hiatus due to COVID-19.

The Sun Devils only have one game under their belt — their season opener at USC. It resulted in a devastating 28-27 loss for ASU.

From what ASU displayed almost a month ago, they had great success running the ball.

Between freshman DeaMonte Trayanum and junior Rachaad White, the two running backs put up 160 yards.

Add quarterback Jayden Daniels into the mix and ASU put up 258 rushing yards in their first game alone.

Unlike ASU, UCLA has been able to play a full schedule thus far, sporting a 2-2 record.

The Bruins have had a similar gameplan, rushing for 967 yards throughout four games, which averages out to about 240 yards per game.

Their running back Demetric Felton registered 206 rushing yards in their last game against University of Arizona.

The Bruins running back is hard to tackle in space, co-defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce said.

“They are going to come out hot and heavy rushing the ball,” ASU defensive end Michael Matus said. “We are going to strap on our helmets and have our mouthpieces in, because we are going to be hitting.”

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed last week due to COVID-19 contact tracing. He is speculated to be back this week, however.

“He is dynamic and can throw from different platforms, but he is fast outside of the pocket … [and can] extend plays with his legs,” Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards said.

Pierce’s ultimate defensive plan for ASU is to stop the run and get to the quarterback.

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly is in his third year with the program, similar to Edwards’ time with ASU.

“Chip does a nice job having a certain plan for how he wants to attack certain defenses,” Edwards said.

Pierce is interested to see how Kelly will game plan against them.

Last year when these two teams met, ASU got off to a bad start by falling behind 28-7 at halftime.

“We dug ourselves into a deep hole. We were down early in that game and kinda fought our way back,” Edwards said.

The Sun Devils suffered a lot of penalties and turnovers along the way.

“You need to match personnel and [we plan to] do a better job of that this year,” Pierce said.

ASU is hoping to turn the tide this year and get their first home win of 2020.

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The battle of the running games: Arizona State vs. UCLA