Sports is a game of strategy.
A game of X’s and O’s, gamesmanship.
All will be on display Saturday afternoon in Pasadena when UCLA (8-2, 5-2) looks to pull even with Arizona State (8-2, 6-1) in the Pac-12 South in one of the most important games for both programs in the recent past. The winner will control their own destiny with a clear path to the championship game and possible birth in the Rose Bowl.
The game inside the game will be ASU head coach and defensive wizard Todd Graham trying to stop the Bruins talented redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley who has been terrorizing defenses to the tune of nearly 2400 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air and another seven on the ground.
Graham was asked Monday if the former Chandler High star was the best quarterback ASU has faced this season. After a long pause, he explained.
“Yeah, I think…combination-wise a guy who can extend plays with his legs and hurt you throwing the football. He’s the defending Pac-12 South quarterback so I think that would be a pretty accurate statement.”
Hundley has thrived under offensive coordinator Leo Mazzone who left ASU for UCLA the same off-season Graham replaced Dennis Erickson in Tempe. It’s been a match made as the duo has helped light up the scoreboard most of the season.
“We have some tricks in the bag,” Hundley said about his offense Monday. “It’s just the way [Mazzone’s] mind works. He’ll be able to spot one person [on defense], pick him out and make a play off him. It’s really big what he does for this offense.”
Graham believes the key is limiting “one play drives” and keeping Hundley from improvising and extending plays with his feet.
Something’s got to give.
We’ll find out what this weekend.