Rasshan is element of surprise

Times Staff Writer

There was some uncertainty in Tempe this week, as Arizona State prepared to face a UCLA team now using a quarterback with radically different abilities than his predecessors.

Osaar Rasshan may not have the passing skills of Ben Olson, but he brings an element that has Sun Devils Coach Dennis Erickson concerned.

“He is unbelievably athletic,” Erickson said. “I don’t know what to expect and what they might do different with him. I’m sure we’ll see some quarterback draws and other things they wouldn’t do with their other two quarterbacks.”


Erickson got a glimpse of that in game tapes this week. Rasshan replaced an injured Patrick Cowan and led the Bruins to 13 points, running for 57 yards and passing for 78.

But his passing accuracy is a concern for UCLA.

Rasshan completed only three of 10 passes and was wild on three throws in the final minutes when the Bruins had a chance to drive for a tying touchdown.

Even in high school, Rasshan never wowed people with his arm. He completed 47% of his passes as a senior at Pomona Garey High.

Still, neither Olson nor Cowan were scorching opponents, either. UCLA’s 109.5 pass efficiency rating is 105th out of 119 major college teams.

Rasshan, though, seems ill fitted for the Bruins’ West Coast offense. He is better moving in the pocket than standing and throwing.

“I’m sure they will do a lot of the same things with their running game,” Erickson said. “What they will do with him, I have no idea. But I don’t believe they will change everything they do. The biggest thing we have to prepare for is how he moves around.”

The Bruins will be without five players who were starters in the season opener: Olson, Chris Markey, Marcus Everett, Nikola Dragovic and Brigham Harwell.

“That’s why these guys who are backups have to come out here and work like starters,” strong safety Chris Horton said. “When they get in there they have to play like they are that key guy.”

There are some similarities between the Karl Dorrell and Bob Toledo coaching eras:

Through the first nine games in his fifth season as coach, Dorrell has a 34-24 record. Toledo was 35-20.

In his first four seasons, Dorrell’s teams have played in the Silicon Valley, Las Vegas, Sun, and Emerald bowls. Toledo’s teams appeared in the Cotton, Rose and Sun bowls.

Dorrell’s bowl game record is 1-3. Toledo’s was 1-2.

Dorrell has a 1-3 record against USC. Toledo was 3-1.

Dorrell, though, has noticeable edge with fewer police blotter items and disabled parking issues.





UCLA (5-4, 4-2 in Pac-10) vs. No. 9 Arizona State (8-1, 5-1) Today, 12:30 p.m., Rose Bowl TV: Channel 7. Radio: 570.

1 Sack lunch. Arizona State has given up 37 sacks, including nine against Oregon last week. The Bruins’ Bruce Davis and Co. need to take advantage of this. If the Sun Devils’ offensive line holds up, this could be another long day on the field for the Bruins’ defense.

2 The Osaar factor. The Bruins’ Osaar Rasshan will make his first college start at quarterback. UCLA’s season is in his hands. Arizona State must contain him. If Rasshan is allowed to roam, his effectiveness -- and the Bruins’ chances for victory -- increases. If reduced to a pocket passer, his problems with accuracy become heightened.

3 Early risers. The Bruins must have a good start, if for nothing else than to allow the reserves subbing for starters to gain confidence. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils would like to show early on that there are no ill effects from last week’s loss to Oregon.

-- Chris Foster