The big matchup at Sun Devil Stadium on Thursday between ASU and UCLA could come down to defense.
Both offenses are among the most elite in the nation and as Todd Graham mentioned earlier in the week, limiting the explosive plays is one of the biggest keys and has been one of the biggest keys in the last two matchups which has determined the winner of the Pac-12 South.
For ASU’s defense, they will have their hands full with many athletes but two in particular are very familiar faces. Former Chandler High School standouts in Quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Paul Perkins.
There are questions of whether or not Hundley will be healthy enough to suit up after sustainging an elbow injury in the Bruins win a week and a half ago against Texas. ASU is game planning that he will play, and know what it will take to stop him.
“He is very, very difficult to sack,” said Graham. “He is just a hard person to bring down, he makes you tackle him. He gets the ball out really quick in their regular passing game.”
With all of those things on the top of the Sun Devils’ mind, Graham then gets into what makes Hundley such a dangerous player.
“When he is the most dangerous is when he is extending plays and you can guarantee it when it happens the ball is going down the field,” he explained. “They strength of their offense in my opinion is their receiving core. They’ve got really solid, skilled people and he’s (Hundley) the key to their success.”
“He’s very, very explosive,” he added. “Again, one of the most explosive players in the country. So we just have to do a good job of cutting off vertical lines and keeping him corralled in the pocket.”
While the Sun Devil defense will have so much attention on Hundley and the great receiving core that Graham mentions, there is another threat on the Bruins defense to keep an eye out for. Another former Chandler Wolves star in running back Paul Perkins, who notched his first ever 100 yard rushing game last time out against Texas.
“Perkins runs the ball hard,” mentioned Graham. “A very tough kid. Does a great job with the screen plays. We have worked really hard on that and I think the run the screens to him really well.”
Perkins has also been getting it done on the ground in the run game with just under five yards per carry through his first three games and has two rushing touchdowns.
Perkins and Hundley are just two of the long line of Chandler players who have gone on to be successful at the next level, and they will be key factors for the Sun Devils to contain if they want to move to 4-0.