September 29, 2015

(AP) - There is only one number that UCLA linebacker Kenny Young is focused on this week.

It is not 26, as in the margin of victory in the Bruins' throttling of Arizona to open Pac-12 play.

It is not seven, as in UCLA's ranking in the latest AP poll.

And it is certainly not four, as many pundits have UCLA in their four-team College Football Playoff projections going into Saturday night's home game against Arizona State.

No, it is the 21 missed tackles against the Wildcats that still had Young angry, frustrated and disappointed.

''We had 21 missed tackles. We're supposed to be one of the top defenses and we're missing 21 tackles, and I missed too many tackles,'' Young said. ''I felt horrible about the win.''

Those missed tackles allowed Arizona to pile up 353 net yards rushing, but Young pointed with disgust to the raw total of 403 yards rushing before negative plays were deducted.

''Look how many yards we gave up,'' Young said. ''That's embarrassing. That's embarrassing for me and it's embarrassing to put on TV. I got to work on better tackling. I got to practice with more urgency. I need to do everything right. Every little thing I need to do better and that's the part I'm going to take forward, and if I see another guy not performing at his best I'm going to hop on him too, because I'm not very happy. We won, but I'm not very happy at all.''

UCLA (4-0, 1-0) did quite a bit right on defense against Arizona, forcing three takeaways that the offense turned into three touchdowns. They limited quarterbacks Anu Solomon and Jerrard Randall to 8-of-26 passing for 100 yards. Much of the Wildcats' production was empty yards after the Bruins had already built up a huge lead.

Young didn't take much solace. Instead, he pointed to the 128 yards Randall rushed for after Solomon left the game with a head injury, and failing to adjust to the change in offensive philosophy after the quarterback change.

That might have had the exact result UCLA coach Jim Mora was hoping for when he railed against his run defense after the win.

The loss of linebacker Myles Jack and defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes to season-ending injuries will test the defensive front seven throughout conference play, and UCLA's next opponent, Arizona State, is more than capable of taking advantage.

Running the ball was about the only thing the Sun Devils did well in last Saturday's 42-14 flop against USC, with Demario Richard rushing for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Bruising sophomore Kalen Ballage made his season debut against the Trojans after missing the first three games because of illness, and versatile D.J. Foster is the only player in Pac-12 history to tally both 2,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards, giving Arizona State a variety of ways to attack UCLA on Saturday.

Young knows a stout run defense will be the key to shutting down a desperate opponent and avoiding a letdown, and he will be pushing his teammates to be focused on making sure those 21 missed tackles do not happen again.

''It's a mindset that you have to come with as a group, not just individually,'' Young said. ''If you get everybody on the same page and knowing that what we did Saturday doesn't satisfy us ... if everybody can see that vision and that goal we'll be a pretty solid football team.''

Arizona State coach Todd Graham said at Pac-12 media days that this is the best team he's had. He reiterated it numerous times heading into the season and again after the Sun Devils lost to Texas A&M in the season opener.

Graham said it again Saturday night, even after Arizona State was blown out at home by the Trojans.

''Obviously our guys know that our backs are against the wall,'' Graham said Monday. ''And everything, every issue we have is self-inflicted and we've just got to get those things corrected and take it upon ourselves to go to work and get it done.''

The Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1) fell behind 35-0 by halftime last week and had four turnovers, including a fumble on the 1-yard line that was returned 94 yards for a touchdown.

A year ago, Arizona State was one of the best in the nation at taking care of the ball, fumbling 15 times and losing four. So far this season, the Sun Devils have been one of the worst, fumbling 13 times and losing seven. Arizona State's turnover margin this season is minus-3 after being a combined plus-29 the past two seasons.

There is some good historical news on the Sun Devils' side: They seem to respond well after suffering a difficult loss.

In 2013, Arizona State suffered a tough loss to Stanford and scored 62 points in a rout over USC the next week. The Sun Devils followed a blowout loss to UCLA last season by beating USC on a Hail Mary the following week.

''The biggest thing is no questioning, no doubt in what we are doing,'' Graham said. ''We don't doubt each other. These kids believe in each other and respond like the teams before you have.''

UCLA's Paul Perkins had 137 yards on 14 carries in last year's 62-27 win in Tempe, and he's currently second in the Pac-12 with 514 rushing yards.

As for the passing game, freshman Josh Rosen had a shaky couple of games following a dazzling debut, but the five-star recruit regrouped last week to go 19 of 28 for 284 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Counterpart Mike Bercovici also has been inconsistent, ranking 10th in the conference in passer rating (128.7). He was 42 of 68 for 488 yards and three TDs against UCLA last year.

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