Lost in the alarm over Arizona State's rolling up 626 offensive yards against UCLA last Thursday was how many plays the Sun Devils ran. Arizona State totaled 105 offensive snaps, as opposed to 58 for the Bruins.
This had a lot of side effects, one of them being how tired the Bruin defensive lineman were by the end of the game, won by UCLA, 62-27.
"We ran out of gas a little last week," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "We sit down -- and I love our offense, it's explosive -- [but] Noel over here is dialing up 80-yard plays, so our pass rushers they take a two-second break and they're up again. So we lost a little bit of our edge as far as the pass rush is concerned, but we're going to get that back."
Ulbrich also said that when the pass rush slows down, it affects the rest of the defense. The linebackers have to overcompensate, and the defensive backs to play off because they don't want to get beat deep.
UCLA's opponent this week, Utah, runs a slower-tempo offense than the Bruins are used to. The Utes likely won't get anywhere close to 105 plays.
"It slows down a bit, which is different," Ulbrich said. "You're so accustomed to going all through training camp and seeing our offense, they're always on the ball, always rolling, it's just super, super fast. Now it's almost like, 'What's going on? Why isn't the ball snapped?' It's a different mind-set, it's a different approach, but I think our guys are getting the maturity now to understand that."
As a whole, the pass rush has been one of the more inconsistent aspects of the team. Ulbrich's mantra has been that his unit is looking for pass rush in general, not just sack numbers. Regardless, the Bruins have a ton of talent up front but just four sacks in four games. Only nine teams in college football have caught the quarterback less.
Maybe being a little bit more rested this weekend will help.
"We don't have the sack numbers, but we're doing our jobs and collapsing the pocket," sophomore defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes said Tuesday. "It's one of those things that when we watch film every week, it's like, right there. Right there. Either we're a second or two away from the quarterback, or if we would have hit him with one move we would have been there. So it's like we're almost there to get more sacks."