|Rick Scuteri/Associated Press|
|Arizona State DE/OLB Carl Bradford's production has dipped this season.|
These aren't your same old dysfunctional Sun Devils. Not even a sideline shouting match between head coach Todd Graham and top pass rusher Carl Bradford resulting in the redshirt junior being benched in the second half could keep Arizona State from maintaining its lead in the Pac-12 South.
Even with Bradford, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker, out of action, ASU downed Oregon State, 30-17, to set up a showdown with UCLA this Saturday at the Coliseum. If ASU wins, it will secure a place in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 7.
"Our goal has always been to win the Pac-12 South, the Pac-12 championship and the Rose Bowl," Graham told the Arizona Republic. "We're real close."
So close ASU will need Bradford at his best, and he will be in action against the Bruins, Graham said. Whatever prompted the spat is unclear, but Graham said he appreciated the enthusiasm, albeit misdirected.
"One thing you have to have in a program -- and in a family -- is 100 percent accountability," Graham said. "On the other hand, I want these guys to be very passionate. You just got to make sure you keep your composure. But they care, and that's good that they do."
Bradford has 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles this season, leading the ASU defense in all three categories. At 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds, Bradford is a classic tweener but makes up for it with a quick first step and disruptive presence.
Though his numbers are well off the pace of last season, when he totaled 20.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, Bradford has a chance to feast on a UCLA offensive line that ranks 106th out of 123 FBS teams in tackles for loss allowed.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.