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Dillingham masterclass in playcalling for ASU in win over UCLA

Arizona State took down the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl behind great defense and extraordinary play calling by Kenny Dillingham.

PASADENA, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Yesterday, Ray Anderson stepped down as the athletic director for Arizona State. He has been criticized for many decisions during his tenure, but one he got right was hiring Kenny Dillingham.

On Saturday, Dillingham's Sun Devils beat the UCLA Bruins 17-7 at the Rose Bowl.

Dillingham devised one of the most clever and unique offensive game plans any offense has ran this season in all of college football.

We saw numerous swinging gates and repeated use of the wildcat (or "hellcat" as they call it). Running back Cameron Skattebo and tight end Jalen Conyers were not just running out of the hellcat, but throwing passes.

"You know its putting our players in the best position to be successful," Dillingham said. "Kodos to the players for believing in something that is unique and goofy. And not just saying 'oh coach doesnt think we can win,' but 'saying we believe in what they are doing.'"

UCLA has one of the most fearsome defensive lines, or "fire breathing dragons" as Dillingham called them, in the country. The Bruins defense, led be Laiatu Latu, is fourth in the country in total sacks and leads in quarterback pressures.

"Do we really want to play 70 snaps where these guys just want to kill our quarterback?" Dillingham said. "And the answer is no we did not."

Arizona State special assistant and former NFL head coach Marvin Lewis approached Dillingham with the idea of the swinging gate, which he had seen Jim Fassel's Utah offense run in the 1970s.

"So we Googled it, and we found it on YouTube, and they were running normal passing plays with the swinging gate, and football is cyclical," Dillingham said. "So if this guy was a NFL head coach, and then Hue Jackson can do it with the Bengals and the Browns, then why can't we do it here."

Throughout the game the Sun Devils ran numerous swinging gates and repeated utilized the wildcat or "hellcat".

"It did exactly what I thought it would do," Dillingham said. It allowed us to play two-on-two. We would be able to get out and get all of the defensive line away from the ball and not have to block them. We'd get all of their other players and it felt like we had a really good matchup with everyone else on the field."

We saw numerous swinging gates and repeated use of the wildcat (or "hellcat" as they call it). At the heart of Dillingham's gameplan was running back Cameron Skattebo. Skattebo not only ran for a touchdown, but also threw a touchdown and punted.

"It was awesome," Skattebo said. "I wouldn't say it was unorthodox to us because we ran it all week. We perfected it as much as we could in five days. Our guys payed attention all week. Some guys might have thought it was silly we were doing it all week, but is it silly now?"

After giving up 55 points last week to Utah in one of the worst losses in program history, the Sun Devil defense responded with a dominant performance. ASU forced three turnover on downs, including one inside the one-yard line. They also recovered a fumble.

"They do some unique stuff, some stuff you don't see too much in college," defensive back Jordan Clark said. "A lot of three back sets, you know. A lot of big guys not a lot of spread out receivers in a spread leagur.It was hard to adjust to at first, but ultimately Coach Ward has a plan for everything. If we do what we are supposed to do we will always be ok."

"On defense we made the plays in the critical moments and that is what I am most proud of," Dillingham said. "That is what I have been harping to the guys and they are just competitors."

Arizona State will face Dillingham's former employer, the Oregon Ducks, on Saturday at Mountain America Stadium.

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Chas Messman

Chas Messman joined KYMA in July 2023 as News 11’s Sports Director. If you have any sports story ideas, send them to


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