According to Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group, UCLA and the state of Arizona have approved enough players and are on track to play.
The Bruins had nine players who missed the last two games due to concerns about the corona virus. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson belonged to that group and is expected to return this week. Defensive back Quentin Lake, receiver Jaylen Erwin, running backs Keegan Jones and Kazmir Allen have also been absent for the past two weeks. Their status for Saturday’s game remains unknown.
UCLA announced Friday night that a member of the program had tested positive this week.
For ASU, the game against the Bruins is the Sun Devils’ first home game in more than a calendar year and only the team’s second game this season. The Sun Devils had been canceled three consecutive games due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
ASU head coach Herm Edwards also tested positive for COVID-19.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly, who tested positive for the season, contacted Edwards, after hearing the news, to reach out to him.
“I spoke to Herm once and texted him a few times,” Kelly said. “(Edwards) seemed like he was handling it well. Just when it first came out. I called him to see how he was doing and to make sure everything was okay. I think the virus affects people differently, but it seemed like it was dealing with it. ”
WHEN UCLA HAS THE BALL
Since ASU (0-1) has only played once, there isn’t much footage for the Bruins (2-2) to evaluate in their preparation for the Sun Devils’ defense. Demetric Felton and Brittain Brown are expected to continue as the Bruins’ best backfield options, while Thompson-Robinson retreats on the offensive.
The Bruins’ running game was particularly effective against ASU last season when Joshua Kelley rushed for 164 yards and four touchdowns.
Thompson-Robinson was fired three times by the ASU defense in that game, but the offensive line showed improvement this season, allowing only three sacks all season (two against Oregon).
UCLA also has more depth in the attacking line this season, rotating linemen in and out of games in an effort to wear down the opponent’s defenses.
The Bruins should keep an eye out for ASU linebacker Merlin Robertson, who had 10 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception in the season opening loss to USC. ASU forced four turnovers in that game.
UCLA comes from a turnover-free home win over Arizona, in which the defense intercepted two passes from Wildcat quarterback Will Plummer.
“We were negative in the revenue category from our offensive standpoint, and we got rid of two of them,” said Kelly. “To be plus two you usually have a good chance of winning, and we talk about that, which is a constant, but when you’re plus two you win 78 percent of the time.
WHEN ASU HAS THE BALL
There is still something unknown about what the Bruins can expect from the ASU attack after several changes in this low season. The Sun Devils brought in a new offensive coordinator, Zak Hill, and have two running backs, DeaMonte Trayanum and Rachaad White, to replace Eno Benjamin. Hill did not find the lack of footage available to UCLA any benefit to the Sun Devils, given the situation they are still trying to fix.
Speaking to the media this week, Hill acknowledged that it was “difficult to get into a groove” due to the lack of games played this season.
Jayden Daniels, a San Bernardino Cajon High alumnus, is back as the starting quarterback, adding some stability to the offense with his dual-threat skills. He had 111 of ASU’s 258 rush yards against USC, while the Sun Devils took several big wins.
“We have to keep him in the bag,” said UCLA defender Qwuantrezz Knight. “He’s going to try to start running and we have to be ready for that.”
Daniels played a key role in ASU’s comeback attempt against the Bruins last season, throwing three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of a 42-32 defeat. The Bruins did not get that situation this season and scored opponents 28-3 in the fourth.
“They play hard and fly to the ball and have good team speed,” Hill said of the UCLA defense. “It will be a great challenge for us. … They like to apply pressure and we have to be ready for that. ”