ASU Football Squad Hits The Road To Meet Washington State
Oct. 16, 2000
TEMPE, Ariz. -
The Arizona State Sun Devils hit the road for the second time in the Pac-10 Conference slate, traveling to Pullman, Wash., to take on the Washington State Cougars Saturday, Oct. 21 at Martin Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. The Sun Devils bring a 4-2 overall and 1-2 conference record to Pullman, looking to rebound from last week's 21-15 loss to then No. 11 Washington at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU also aims to capture its first conference road win of the season after falling at then No. 15 UCLA earlier this year and its first road victory in the Pac-10 since defeating USC 26-16 on Nov. 6 last year. Washington State brings a 3-3 overall and 1-2 conference mark into Saturday's contest after falling at Arizona 53-47 in three overtimes Saturday in Tucson.
In the Series
Arizona State leads the all-time series with Washington State 15-9-2 dating back to 1960, while the series is tied at 5-5 in games played in eastern Washington (4-4 in Pullman, 1-1 in Spokane). The Sun Devils have won the last three games in what has been a streaky series, including a 33-21 victory at Sun Devil Stadium last year. Prior to those three games, WSU had won four straight, and before that, ASU had won four in a row. ASU head coach Bruce Snyder is 4-5-1 in his career against Washington State (3-3 while at ASU), while WSU head coach Mike Price is 4-5 against ASU.
There will be no live television for this game. The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry the game live on its 12-station network on XTRA 910 AM and KFYI 550 AM. Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Mark Asher (sidelines), Vince Marotta and Doug Plank (pregame and postgame) will bring the action to Sun Devil fans. The game can be heard live on ASU's official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com. Fox Sports Net Arizona will show the game on tape delay at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Neither team is ranked in this week's polls. ASU received 10 votes in the Oct. 15 Associated Press (31st) and 21 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls (33rd).
Back-to-Back in the Pac-10
The Sun Devils have lost back-to-back conference games just once in the last four seasons. Earlier this season, the Sun Devils rebounded from a loss at UCLA in the team's Pac-10 opener with a 30-10 win over Cal. Since 1995, the Sun Devils' only back-to-back Pac-10 losses came at Oregon and at Arizona to end the 1998 season.
ASU offensive line coach George Yarno is a 1978 graduate of Washington State University. A native of Spokane, Wash., Yarno was a four-year letterwinner for the Cougars before going on to a 13-year professional football career. Yarno returned to his alma mater in 1991, serving as offensive line and special teams coach from 1991-95.
Junior tight end Todd Heap and senior linebacker Adam Archuleta were both honored last week in the CNNSI.com Half-Season All-America team. Heap earned first-team honors, while Archuleta was a second-team selection on the list which recognizes the top players in the country at the halfway point of the season.
Last Time Out
In a game marked by three interceptions, 12 fumbles and nine lost fumbles between the two teams, Arizona State fell to No. 11/10 Washington in a 21-15 decision last Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. The Sun Devils forced a fumble in Washington's first drive of the game and converted the turnover into a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Mike Barth to take an early 3-0 lead. Barth connected on another field goal in the second quarter to put ASU ahead 6-0 before UW blocked a punt and scored a touchdown late in the second quarter to take a 7-6 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Huskies recovered an ASU fumble on a punt return as time expired in the third quarter and scored on a one-yard run by Rich Alexis to begin the fourth quarter. UW would go ahead 21-6 with just under 13 minutes left in the game on an 86-yard run by Alexis. A safety cut the UW lead to 21-8 and ASU narrowed the gap to 21-15 with a four-yard TD pass from redshirt freshman Jeff Krohn to junior Todd Heap with three minutes left in the game, but the Huskies were able to run out the clock to earn the victory.
In its last two games in the series with the Washington Huskies, Arizona State has forced 13 fumbles and recovered 11 (7 FF, 6 FR in 1999 and 6 FF, 5 FR in 2000). Heading into their game with the Sun Devils last week, the Huskies had lost just four fumbles all year before having five balls stripped away by the Sun Devils. In just six games, the Sun Devils have already forced 18 fumbles, seven more than the team forced all last season (11). Sophomore Solomon Bates leads the team and the Pac-10 with four forced fumbles, while freshman Terrell Suggs forced a fumble on UW's first drive and is tied for second in the conference with three on the year. Senior Nijrell Eason and junior Kurt Wallin have each forced a pair of fumbles as well.
The Sun Devils have outscored their opponents 43-13 in the first quarter and have not allowed a first-quarter touchdown in five games since allowing an 11-yard touchdown pass by San Diego State.
ASU's defense has been equally stingy in the opponent's first drive. The team has allowed just six first downs and 131 yards resulting in two punts and three turnovers in its opponents' first series of each game. Arizona State has forced a fumble to end its opponent's first drive in each of the last three games. Sophomore Alfred Williams forced and recovered a fumble at UCLA, junior Kurt Wallin and freshman Terrell Suggs teamed up against Cal and Suggs forced a fumble which was recovered by junior Eric Fields vs. Washington.
Defending the Dawgs
Arizona State put together an impressive defensive showing in its loss to Washington, holding the high-powered Husky offense well below its season averages in several categories. UW quarterback Marcus Tuiasosopo entered the game needing just 163 yards of total offense to move to the top of the school's career charts but gained just 134 yards in the game, well below his average of 263.0 yards per game. The Sun Devils also became the only team to hold Tuiasosopo to less than 200 yards passing this season. As a team, ASU allowed Washington just 10 total first downs when they had been averaging 22.8 per game, 110 passing yards compared to their average of 222.0 yards per game and just 296 yards of total offense compared to their average of 414.8 yards per game.
The Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 Conference in third-down defense, allowing their opponents to convert on just 26.5 percent of their third downs. Last week, Washington finished the game just 3-for-16 in third-down conversions and went 1-for-10 to start the game, not converting a third down until midway through the third quarter.
A preseason favorite for Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Adam Archuleta leads the Pac-10 in tackles with 60, an average of 10.0 tackles per game. Of those tackles, 82 percent are solo stops (49 of 60). Leader of a linebacking corps tabbed the seventh-best in the nation by The Sporting News, he has paced the team in tackles in two of the past four games (and second to fellow linebacker Solomon Bates in the other two). Archuleta turned in a career-best 16 at UCLA, a total which included 15 solos. He has had at least one tackle for loss in each of ASU's six games this year, including three for a loss of 20 yards at UCLA, and has had at least one tackle for loss in 20 of his last 23 games.
A first-team All-Pac-10 linebacker and ASU's defensive MVP last year, Archuleta recorded double-digit tackle efforts in six of his 11 games, leading ASU six times. Despite missing the season-opener with a hamstring injury, Archuleta ranked second in the Pac-10 with 10.2 tackles per game, trailing only Arizona's Marcus Bell (10.3). He became the first Sun Devil since Scott Von der Ahe to record more than 100 tackles in a season with 111. His 21 tackles for loss led the league and was the seventh-highest single-season total in ASU history. Since the Pac-10 began keeping track of TFL in 1990, he is only the second Sun Devil to lead the conference (Derrick Rodgers, 1996). In his career, Archuleta ranks fifth in ASU history with 48 tackles for loss.
ASU's weak-side trio of junior rush tackle Kurt Wallin, senior linebacker Adam Archuleta and freshman rush end Terrell Suggs has wreaked havoc on opponents this season. Between the three of them, they have accounted for 24 percent of ASU's tackles (103 of 432), 47 percent of its tackles for loss (26 of 55) and 50 percent of its sacks (11 of 22). Here's a look at the totals of the trio so far this season:
Combine junior Todd Heap's blond hair, hands of glue and nose for the football and you'll know why ASU head coach Bruce Snyder has called his tight end the 'Golden Retriever.' Heap has established himself as the best tight end in the Pac-10 and in ASU history, becoming the first Sun Devil tight end to earn first-team All-Pac-10 honors. A 1999 third-team Associated Press All-American last year, Heap is a virtual unanimous selection for the preseason All-Pac-10 tight end and has been named a first-team preseason All-American six of seven preseason publications.
With two catches for 20 yards vs. Washington, Heap became ASU's career leader in receiving yards by a tight end with 1,371 yards in two-plus seasons. The junior needs just two catches and one touchdown to move to the top of ASU's career lists in each of those categories as well. This year, Heap is second on the team in receiving despite facing double coverage on virtually every play with 19 catches for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Of his 19 catches this year, 12 have resulted in a first down or a touchdown. Heap has caught a pass in 21 straight games (86 catches in that span).
Last year, Heap set single-season records for ASU tight ends with 55 catches and 832 yards receiving. He is just the ninth Sun Devil to catch 50 passes in a season and became the first tight end to lead ASU in receiving since Ryan McReynolds had 28 catches in 1988. Thirty-nine of his 55 receptions resulted in a first down or TD. He had career highs in receptions (8) at Notre Dame and receiving yards (170) against Arizona. He had three 100-yard receiving games in 1999. He had at least three receptions in all but two games in 1999 (he was sidelined by injury/illness in both).
In its last 37 games, if Arizona State wins or breaks even in the turnover battle, the Sun Devils are 20-3. In that same span, ASU is 1-13 when it loses the turnover battle. During that 37-game span, the unexpected only happened against UCLA in 2000 (loss), Washington in 2000 (loss), Washington State in 1999 (win) and Oregon in 1999 (loss). ASU is fourth in the Pac-10 and tied for 20th in the nation in turnover margin this season (+5).
With 12 punts vs. Washington, junior Nick Murphy tied the school record for punts in a game, a mark set by Steve Rausch vs. Washington in 1992. Murphy also rewrote the school mark with 42.8 yards per punt, a record also held by Rausch in that game (41.8 ypp). Sophomore Justin Taplin also got into the record-setting act, establishing a new mark for punt returns in a game with 10 vs. Washington. The previous record was nine by Prentic McCray vs. Brigham Young in 1972.
Three Starters at QB
The Sun Devils have started three quarterbacks in six games this year with freshman Jeff Krohn missing action against UCLA and Cal due to mononucleosis and senior Ryan Kealy suffering a knee injury vs. UCLA. That trend isn't as out of the ordinary as it might seem since Arizona State has had three starters at quarterback three previous times in the last 10 years (Paul Justin, Kurt Lasher and Bret Powers in 1990, Troy Rauer, Grady Benton and Garrick McGee in 1992 and Ryan Kealy, Chad Elliott and Steve Campbell in 1998). ASU leads the Pac-10 Conference in passing offense at 266.3 passing yards per game despite the personnel changes:
Watch Out for Falling Records
Keep a pencil handy when updating ASU's passing records because senior Griffin Goodman set a pair of school records against California, marks that fellow quarterback Jeff Krohn had also rewritten just two games before. With his 11-for-28, 394-yard showing vs. Cal, Goodman averaged 35.8 yards per completion and 14.1 yards per attempt., school records in both categories for 21 to 30 attempts and 11 to 20 completions. With a 6-of-10, 248-yard performance against Utah State, Krohn set the school records in both categories for 5 to 10 completions and 10 to 20 attempts with 41.3 yards per completion and 24.8 yards per attempt.
Through the Air
Prior to the Washington game, ASU's four quarterbacks have racked up 1,159 passing yards in three games including 374 yards against Utah State, 365 yards at UCLA and 420 yards vs. Cal. The performance vs. California is the top showing by a Pac-10 team so far this season. The last time ASU topped 1,000 yards in three games was in 1990 (1,090 - 374 vs. Washington State, 242 vs. Arizona, 474 vs. Houston). The Sun Devils' three 300-yard games are the most since the 1989 team had three all year.
Prior to its 21-15 loss to Washington, Arizona State's offense had been characterized by big plays, especially through the air. While the team's longest play in its first two games was a 21-yard run by junior Davaren Hightower in the season-opener against San Diego State, ASU has had 25 plays from scrimmage longer than that (21 passing, four rushing) in the last three games.
More on Big Plays
As a team, the Sun Devils are averaging 17.4 yards per catch to lead the Pac-10. Nine Sun Devils are averaging double figures in yards per reception with junior Donnie O'Neal leading the way at 20.9 yards per catch.
Passing Into the End Zone
Sun Devil quarterbacks have thrown 12 touchdown passes in six games this season including four each to junior Donnie O'Neal and senior Richard Williams and three to junior Todd Heap. Last year, the team had just seven TD passes through the first six games and only 14 all season, while Williams was last year's leading receiver catching just five TD passes all season. ASU's 12 touchdown passes are the most for the team since Jake Plummer threw 17 in the team's first six games in 1996.
Spreading the Wealth
Twelve players have caught passes this year for the Sun Devils including five wide receivers, three tight ends, three tailbacks and a fullback. Junior Donnie O'Neal leads the receiving corps with 19 catches for 397 yards and four touchdowns followed by junior Todd Heap with 19 catches, 330 yards and three TDs and senior Richard Williams with 16 catches for 332 yards and four TDs. Three wide receivers have topped the century mark in single-game receiving yards this season, most recently redshirt freshman Shaun McDonald who had two catches for 122 yards and a touchdown vs. Cal.
In its first six games, Arizona State has amassed 43 pass deflections, the most for the team through six games in at least 16 years. Senior Nijrell Eason leads the team and the Pac-10 with 14 on the season. Last year, Courtney Jackson finished the season with nine total to lead the squad. Senior Kenny Williams has batted away nine passes this season, which is tied for fifth in the conference. Last year, the team had just 16 pass deflections through its first five games, while the 1996 team is the only team in recent history to come close to ASU's total this year with 36 pass deflections in its first six contests. The Sun Devils also rank second in the Pac-10 and 12th in the nation in pass efficiency defense.
One of the biggest surprises of the young season has been the emergence of true freshman Terrell Suggs. Suggs, who didn't turn 18 until October 11, jumped to the top of the depth chart at defensive end during preseason camp and has become a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Suggs is tied for third in the Pac-10 with five sacks for a loss of 34 yards, including at least one in each of ASU's first three games. Eric Fields tallied a total of 10 sacks to lead the squad last year. Suggs is also third in the conference with 10 tackles for loss (-45 yards).
As a team, the Sun Devils leads the Pac-10 in sacks with 22, just four shy of the total the team had all of last season (26). Heading into last week's game, California's Kyle Boller had been sacked just eight times all season, but ASU's defense got to him early with three sacks including one on Cal's first drive which caused Boller to fumble and turn the ball over.
With two interceptions against UCLA, ASU had at least one interception in its first four games. The 1998 team was the last to pick off at least one pass in four straight games when it had one in each of its last five games that season. The Sun Devils snagged three interceptions against Utah State, the most since picking off three against USC last year, including career firsts by sophomore Solomon Bates and freshman Terrell Suggs.
ASU has picked off a total of seven passes this season, closing on the 11 that the squad had all of last season. Senior Nijrell Eason leads the team with three interceptions (one at SDSU, one vs. USU and one at UCLA). Last year, Willie Daniel and Courtney Jackson paced the team with two interceptions each all season. Eason is tied for second in the Pac-10 and for 13th in the nation in interceptions per game this season.
Noting Jeff Krohn
Before missing games against UCLA and Cal after being diagnosed with mononucleosis, redshirt freshman Jeff Krohn is 3-0 as ASU's starting quarterback, turning in the best performance of his young career in ASU's 44-20 win over Utah State. He completed six of 10 attempts for a career-high 248 yards and four passing touchdowns, including 72- and 70-yard TD strikes to senior Richard Williams in his first two completions. Krohn's four TD passes were the most for a Sun Devil since fellow quarterback Ryan Kealy completed four scoring strikes against Arizona on Nov. 27, 1998. It marked the 18th time an ASU signal caller has thrown four TD passes in a game, while the school record stands at seven by Mike Pagel against Stanford in 1981.
Krohn returned to action vs. Washington in relief of starter Griffin Goodman, completing 12 of 33 attempts for 170 yards, a TD strike to junior Todd Heap and two interceptions. On the season, Krohn has completed 47 of 109 attempts for 655 yards (163.8 ypg), six touchdowns and three interceptions.
In the Backfield
Arizona State's woes in the backfield have been well documented this season with honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection Delvon Flowers going down with an ACL tear in a preseason scrimmage and junior Davaren Hightower out several weeks with pneumonia, but a pair of newcomers have stepped in with some big numbers. True freshman Mike Williams is leading the team in rushing with 89 carries for 394 yards and three touchdowns in six games. In his first two games, Williams had 159 yards and a touchdown in 43 carries, the third best two-game total for a Sun Devil in 30 years, while he nearly topped the century mark against UCLA with 97 yards and two TDs on 10 carries.
Junior Tom Pace made his Sun Devil debut against Utah State with 65 yards on 16 carries and followed that up with 19 yards on eight carries at UCLA. He came just shy of topping the century mark with 93 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries vs. Cal.
A 5-10, 195-pounder out of Mesa (Ariz.) High School, Pace played running back (under ASU offensive line coach George Yarno who was the offensive coordinator in Moscow from 1995-98) and returned kicks for the University of Idaho in 1996 before going on a two-year mission. In 1996, he finished second on the Vandal team in rushing with 212 yards and two touchdowns in 41 carries (a team-leading average of 5.2 yards per carries). Even more impressive were his return numbers as he led the team and ranked among the best in the nation with 839 yards on 32 kickoff returns (26.2 ypr). After returning from his mission, Pace played one season at Ricks Junior College in Rexburg, Idaho, before joining the Sun Devil squad the week before the Colorado State game.
The Century Mark
With Mike Williams' 143-yard showing against Colorado State, he became the first true freshman to top the century mark since Mario Bates rushed for 161 yards against Arizona at home on Nov. 23, 1991. With the effort, ASU improved to 231-40-5 (.846) all time when a player tops the century mark in rushing, while the Sun Devils are 32-8 (.800) since Bruce Snyder's arrival in Tempe.
While defensive end Terrell Suggs became just the second true freshman in school history to start the first game of the year for the Sun Devils at San Diego State, he and tailback Mike Williams both started against Colorado State and Utah State, marking the first time since 1995 that the Sun Devils have had a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup. That year, ASU had two freshmen starters in three games including wide receivers Kenny Mitchell and Ricky Boyer vs. UCLA (11/4) and at California (11/11) and Boyer and wide receiver Lenzie Jackson vs. Oregon State (9/23).
Suggs is in pretty good company as the only other Sun Devil true freshman to start the first game of the season was wide receiver John Jefferson in 1974. A four-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection and a consensus All-American in 1977, Jefferson (who changed his last name from Washington to Jefferson following his freshman campaign) went onto a successful NFL career, being selected as a first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers (14th pick overall) and appearing in four Pro Bowls with San Diego and the Green Bay Packers. In Bruce Snyder's tenure at ASU, 12 true freshmen have started games, although none until Suggs made his starting debut in the season opener. Six true freshmen have seen action so far this season (Suggs, fullbacks Mike Waddell and Mike Karney and tailbacks Mike Williams, Skyler Fulton and Derick Arnold). Last year, four true freshmen saw action (linebackers Solomon Bates and Josh Amobi, kicker Mike Barth and cornerback Machtier Clay.)
ASU head coach Bruce Snyder earned not only his 50th victory at Arizona State, but also his 50th career win in Pac-10 conference play with ASU's 33-21 win over Washington State Oct. 23 last year. Combining his record in Tempe and during a five-year stint at California, Snyder is 53-48-4 in conference games. He became just the 12th coach in the 84-year history of the league to plate 50 wins. The other 11 are: Terry Donahue, UCLA, 98 wins, Don James, Washington, 97, John McKay, USC, 70, Howard Jones, USC, 65, O.E. Hollingbery, WSU, 64, John Robinson, USC, 63, Larry Smith, Arizona, 63, Dick Tomey, Arizona, 60, Rich Brooks, Oregon, 56, Jim Owens, Washington, 54, James Phelan, Washington, 51.
When head coach Bruce Snyder announced that redshirt freshman Jeff Krohn and sophomore safety Patrick Wilson have been awarded scholarships for the 2000-01 school year, the pair joined an impressive group who at least began their careers at ASU by walking on. Other players on the current squad who earned scholarships after walking on include senior linebacker Adam Archuleta, senior wide receivers Mike Aguirre and Brian Forth, junior offensive tackle Levi Jones and junior linebacker Elza Gennicks.
Arizona State features two new faces on the sidelines this season in the form of running backs coach Vincent White and offensive line coach George Yarno. White comes to Tempe after spending the past three seasons as tailbacks coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Yarno brings a wealth of experience to ASU as a long-time assistant coach in the collegiate ranks (most recently at the University of Houston from 1998-2000) and as a 13-year NFL and USFL veteran. In addition, John Pettas was promoted to offensive coordinator in the offseason in addition to his duties as quarterbacks coach.
The Sun Devils are benefiting from a recruiting class that ranks among the best in ASU history. The 2000 recruiting class has been ranked in the top 13 nationally and among the two or three best in the Pac-10. SuperPrep Magazine listed ASU's recruiting class as the ninth-best in the nation and the best in the Pac-10.
Senior wide receiver Mike Aguirre was recently named to the 2000 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. The team is made up of student-athletes who successfully balance academics and athletics and go above and beyond in volunteerism and community service. The AFCA selected 11 players from NCAA Division I-A institutions to its Good Works Team.
An honorable-mention Academic All-Pac-10 selection in each of the last two seasons, Aguirre was one of the 17 members of the ASU Athletics Director Search Committee appointed by ASU President Lattie F. Coor this summer. He was the ASU Student-Athlete Advisory Council Chairman in 1999-2000 and will serve as the Pac-10 Conference representative on the National Student-Athlete Advisory Council in 2000-01.