Football Heads to UCLA for Pac-10 Season Opener
Sept. 10, 2001
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Following a 38-7 season-opening win over San Diego State last week, first-year head coach Dirk Koetter and the Sun Devils hit the road for Los Angeles to open the Pac-10 Conference slate at No. 14/12 UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 15. The game, which is the first Pac-10 game of the year and is scheduled to kick off at 7:15 p.m. at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, will be a rematch of ASU's conference opener from one season ago which the Bruins took in a wild, come-from-behind 38-31 win. Last week, the 89th season of Sun Devil football and the first season of the Koetter era began with ASU's win over San Diego State, while the 12th-ranked Bruins are off to a 2-0 start to the season with a 20-17 win at Alabama on Sept. 1 and last weekend's 41-17 victory at Kansas.
Saturday's Pac-10 Conference game is the earliest start to the conference season for the Sun Devils since the team opened the season with Washington at Sun Devil Stadium on Sept. 5, 1998. The game at the Rose Bowl also marks the fourth time in five years that ASU is hitting the road to begin the conference slate. The Sun Devils begin the Pac-10 schedule with three road games, traveling to Stanford and USC before opening their home schedule with Oregon State on Oct. 20.
In the SeriesUCLA holds an 11-6-1 edge in the all-time series, although Arizona State has been victorious in five of the last seven meetings. Last year, then 15th-ranked UCLA came back from a 21-0 deficit to defeat ASU 38-31 at the Rose Bowl. ASU holds a 4-5-1 record on the road against UCLA and a 4-3-1 mark against UCLA in the Rose Bowl, while the Sun Devils have earned a win or tie in five of the last eight meetings in Pasadena. ASU is 5-6-1 all time when playing in Pasadena including appearances in the Rose Bowl in 1987 and 1997. ASU head coach Dirk Koetter is 0-1 against UCLA in his career with his 1999 Boise State team falling to the Bruins 38-7 in Pasadena.
ExposureFox Sports Net will televise Saturday's game live to a national audience with Steve Physioc, Tom Ramsey and Lewis Johnson (sidelines) calling the action. The game will mark the first television broadcast of the year for the Sun Devils.
The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry the game live on its 13-station network including flagship stations XTRA Sports 910 AM and KFYI NewsRadio 550 AM. Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Vince Marotta, Nathan LaDuke and Doug Plank (pregame and postgame) will bring the action to Sun Devil fans. The game can also be heard live on ASU's official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com.
PollingUCLA is ranked 14th and 12th in this week's Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls. Arizona State is not ranked but received three votes in the latest AP poll.
Pac-10 OpenersArizona State holds a 7-14-2 all-time record in Pac-10 Conference openers since joining the league in 1978. The Sun Devils will be looking to win their first conference opener since beginning the 1997 conference slate with a 13-10 victory at Oregon State on Sept. 27, a streak of three losses including last year's 38-31 loss at UCLA. This year's trip to the Rose Bowl also marks the fourth time in five years that the Sun Devils will open conference play on the road.
With its win over SDSU last week, ASU extended its winning streak in season openers to three. ASU is 61-26-2 (.693) all time in the first game of the season.
Team CaptainsASU's season-long captains, as selected in a team vote, are senior safety Willie Daniel, senior center Scott Peters and junior safety Alfred Williams. Head coach Dirk Koetter will also select one game captain per week, and senior wide receiver Donnie O'Neal is Koetter's selection for the UCLA game.
In Their First YearWith his team's 38-7 victory over San Diego State last week, head coach Dirk Koetter joins a group of eight former Sun Devil mentors who won the first game of their ASU careers. Prior to Koetter, the last head coach to win his first game at ASU was Larry Marmie who led the Sun Devils to a 21-16 win over Illinois on Sept. 10, 1988 in Tempe. ASU Hall of Famer Dan Devine turned in the best record for a first-year head coach at ASU, leading the Sun Devils to an 8-2-1 record in 1955.
On a RollWith the win over the Aztecs, Koetter has led his team to victory in his last eight games as a head coach, the third longest active winning streak in the country. Koetter won his last seven games at Boise State, including a 38-23 victory over UTEP in the 2000 Humanitarian Bowl. Only Bob Stoops at Oklahoma (16 consecutive wins) and Washington's Rick Neuheisel (9) currently have longer winning streaks.
Last Time OutSophomore Jeff Krohn passed for 271 yards and four touchdowns in just over three quarters as Arizona State beat San Diego State 38-7 Saturday night in Dirk Koetter's debut as head coach of the Sun Devils. Krohn set a school record for completion percentage, connecting on 77.1 percent of his passes (27-of-35) without an interception. He threw two scoring passes to senior Donnie O'Neal and one each to sophomores Mike Karney and Shaun McDonald. Karney's 7-yard TD pass late in the first quarter got the Sun Devil scoring started and was the first touchdown reception of his career.
Junior Mike Barth made a 38-yard field goal in the first half, and redshirt freshman Emmanuel Franklin set a school record with a 100-yard interception return for the Sun Devils' final touchdown with 7:44 to play. The Aztecs, who fell to 0-2 after a season-opening loss to Arizona, got a 10-yard TD run from Garric Simmons with 2:51 remaining. The Sun Devils held the Aztecs to 86 yards rushing and 188 total yards, recording five sacks and forcing two turnovers. Sophomore Terrell Suggs, who led the team in sacks and tackles for loss a year ago, had two sacks, a pass deflection and a forced fumble. The Aztecs had just 21 yards of total offense at halftime.
Putting the Special in Special TeamsWith his 100-yard interception return for touchdown with 7:44 left in the SDSU game, redshirt freshman cornerback Emmanuel Franklin broke the Arizona State record for the longest interception return, which was previously held by Nathan LaDuke who returned a pick 95 yards against Oregon State in 1990. Franklin, who started his first career game vs. San Diego State, became the eighth Pac-10 player to have a 100-yard return. The last was Deltha O'Neal of California against Oregon in 1999.
Prior to Franklin's return, ASU's last interception return for a touchdown came in 2000 when then true freshman defensive end Terrell Suggs picked off a Utah State pass and returned it 48 yards for TD.
Efficiency ExpertWith his 27-of-35 passing performance (.771) last week vs. the Aztecs, sophomore quarterback Jeff Krohn set the school record for completion percentage for 31 to 40 pass attempts. No ASU player who threw at least 31 passes in a game had completed better than 77.1 percent of them.
More Notes on KrohnKrohn leads the Pac-10 and ranks seventh in the nation after racking up 301 yards of total offense vs. San Diego State last week (271 passing yards and 30 rushing yards) ... he threw for four touchdown passes in last weekend's game, marking the second time in his career and the 17th time in school history ... Krohn's career high for TD strikes in a game is five which he did last year against Oregon ... With one game under his belt, Krohn is also ranked seventh in the nation in passing efficiency (179.9) and tied for fourth in pass completions (27.0) ...After starting nine games last season as a redshirt freshman, Krohn holds a 6-4 record as ASU's starting quarterback ... Against SDSU, Krohn strung together streaks of 11 consecutive completions between the first and second quarters and 10 straight completions in the second and third quarters.
Spreading the WealthDirk Koetter's offense can best be characterized by its multiple schemes, and that fact was in evidence in ASU's season-opening win over San Diego State. A total of eight Sun Devils carried the ball and 10 caught passes in ASU's season-opening victory. Last year, the most players to catch a pass in a game was nine vs. Oregon.
Stingy DefenseArizona State's defense also turned in a fine showing in its debut last week vs. San Diego State. The Sun Devils fell just short of their first shutout since 1996, holding the Aztecs scoreless for three-plus quarters until SDSU's Garric Simmons scored on a 10-yard run with 2:51 left in the game. ASU allowed just 11 first downs and just 190 yards of total offense in the victory. In the first half, the Aztecs had just 19 yards of total offense and did not cross midfield. The seven points given up in the game marks the second straight season that ASU has held SDSU to just a touchdown.
With one game in the books, ASU's defense ranks 12th in the country in pass defense (102.0 ypg), seventh in total defense (190.0 ypg), fourth in pass efficiency defense (57.15) and is tied for 10th in scoring defense (7.0 ppg). The team leads the Pac-10 in seven defensive categories.
Third Down DataASU leads the Pac-10 in both third-down categories, converting on 53.3 percent of its third downs (8-of-15) and allowing San Diego State to convert on just 13.3 percent (2-of-15) last week.
Starting YoungThree Sun Devil true freshmen made their debuts last week with wide receiver Darryl Lightfoot, safety Jason Shivers and cornerback Lamar Baker appearing in the San Diego State game. A total of 11 redshirt freshmen also made their Sun Devil debuts in last week's game as well.
Arizona State's roster features a total of 13 players who saw action as true freshmen. Seventeen true freshmen have played over the last four seasons, including six last year (Terrell Suggs, Mike Karney, Mike Williams, Skyler Fulton and Derick Arnold). In 1999, four true freshmen played, including Solomon Bates, Josh Amobi and Mike Barth, while Justin Taplin and Willie Daniel were among the four to see action in 1998.
Young GunsThree redshirt freshmen started the San Diego State game in ASU's defensive backfield including cornerbacks R.J. Oliver and Emmanuel Franklin and free safety Riccardo Stewart. Aside from starting safeties, senior Willie Daniel and junior Alfred Williams, ASU's secondary is characterized by a talented youth movement. In addition to the trio of redshirt freshmen, ASU has two true freshman (cornerback Lamar Baker and free safety Jason Shivers) and another redshirt freshman (free safety Michael Holloway) on its depth chart. The secondary youngsters performed admirably in their debuts against San Diego State with Stewart leading the Sun Devils with five tackles, Oliver turning in a team-best two pass deflections and Franklin setting a school record with a 100-yard interception return for touchdown.
Who's BackThe Sun Devils return 51 letterwinners including 16 starters and a pair of kickers in senior punter Nicky Murphy and junior kicker Mike Barth. The offensive starters slated to return are LT Levi Jones, LG Marquise Muldrow, C Scott Peters, RG Kyle Kosier, QB Jeff Krohn, TB Tom Pace & Delvon Flowers (Flowers missed last season with an ACL tear) and WR Donnie O'Neal.4 On defense, returning starters include RE Brian Montesanto, DT Kurt Wallin, DT Danny Masaniai & Paul Glass (split starts), DE Terrell Suggs, LB Eric Fields, LB Solomon Bates, S Willie Daniel and S Alfred Williams.
Peters, Suggs on Lombardi Watch ListA preseason All-Pac-10 selection, senior center Scott Peters is one of 52 players on the preseason watch list for the 32nd Rotary Lombardi Award. The Lombardi Award is annually presented to the top lineman in the country with eligibility limited to down linemen and defenders who line up within five yards of the football. To be eligible for the preseason watch list for the prestigious Lombardi Award, players had to have earned All-American or first-team all-conference honors last year. The Lombardi Award winner will be announced on December 5 in Houston.
Last year, Peters started all 12 games at center and earned first-team All-Pac-10 accolades. A Freshman All-American in 1998 and an honorable-mention all-conference selection in 1999, Peters has started 34 games in his career.
Sophomore defensive end Terrell Suggs has also been added to the watch list for the Lombardi Award. Last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a preseason mention for all-conference and All-American honors, Suggs became just the second true freshman in school history to start the first game of the year for the Sun Devils last year at San Diego State on Aug. 31. He started 10 games last year and led the team in tackles for loss and sacks.
Peters on Rimington Trophy Preseason ListPeters is also one of 21 players on the preseason watch list for the 2001 Dave Rimington Trophy, which honors the nation's best offensive center.
The award is named for Dave Rimington, the University of Nebraska's two-time consensus All-America center and the only player to earn two John Outland Trophies. Rimington, also a two-time Academic All-American, and Boomer Esiason, a record-setting passer at the University of Maryland, were teammates on the Cincinnati Bengals from 1984-87.
The Rimington Trophy, established in 2000, is sponsored by the Boomer Esiason Foundation. The player honored with the inaugural award was the University of Nebraska's Dominic Raiola, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions earlier this year. The 2001 award will be presented Dec. 15 in Lincoln, Neb.
Barth, Murphy on Preseason Lists for Kicking AwardsJunior placekicker Mike Barth and senior punter Nick Murphy are each on the preseason watch lists for the national awards which are awarded at their positions.
Barth is one of 30 players on the preseason watch list for the 2001 Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award. In its 10th season, the Lou Groza Award, presented by the FedEx Orange Bowl, is annually given to the best placekicker in the nation.
The Palm Beach County Sports Commission will present the award during a banquet on Tuesday, December 4, at the Sheraton at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, Fla. The 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award will be announced in late October, followed several weeks later by the naming of the three finalists. The kickers on the watch list were chosen based on last year's statistics and preseason expectations.
Last season, Barth made 66.7 percent of his field goal attempts for the Sun Devils including five field goals over 40 yards. He knocked in three game-winners including a 41-yarder in overtime at Washington State. He also led the Pac-10 and finished 15th in the nation in field goals last year.
Murphy will be on the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award which honors the top punter in the country when it is announced later this fall. A semifinalist for the award last year and an honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection last year, Murphy averaged 41.3 yards per punt last year. He forced seven touchbacks and 15 fair catches and had 30 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Bates on Butkus Preseason Watch ListJunior linebacker Solomon Bates is one of 69 candidates on the preseason watch list for the 2001 Butkus Award. In its 17th year, the Butkus Award is annually presented to the nation's best collegiate linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando.
The watch list will be cut down to 10 semifinalists on Thursday, Oct. 18, while three finalists will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 8. The Butkus Award winner will be announced on Friday, Dec. 7 at the Butkus Award Gala at Hard Rock Live at the Universal Studios City Walk in Orlando.
An honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection last year, Bates started all 12 games at middle linebacker for the Sun Devils in 2000. He finished second on the team in total and unassisted tackles and turned in 12 tackles for loss. As a true freshman, Bates was named a Freshman All-American by the Sporting News and one of Sports Illustrated's 'Top 10 Freshmen.' The Moreno Valley, Calif., native finished eighth on the team in tackles in 1999 despite being sidelined with a season-ending knee injury after eight games.
Flowers on Doak Walker Preseason Watch ListAnd last, but certainly not least, senior tailback Delvon Flowers is one of 44 players on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, which is annually presented to the top running back in the country. Flowers was listed among the 35 preseason candidates for the award last year but suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the preseason. In 1999, Flowers finished second on the team in rushing with 512 yards on 80 carries en route to earning honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors.
Pac-10 Preseason PollArizona State was selected to finish seventh in the Pac-10 Conference by West Coast media members as part of the official preseason conference poll. The Sun Devils were picked to finish fifth in last year's preseason poll and ended up in a tie for fifth.
Walk-OnsSophomore quarterback Jeff Krohn is one of just four starting quarterbacks in the country who began his career as walk-ons. Krohn, who earned a scholarship midway through last season, led the Pac-10's top-ranked passing offense last year and set school marks for passing yards in a season and single-game passing yards for a freshman. The other signal-callers who began their careers as walk-ons are Texas A&M junior Mark Farris, Houston junior Kelly Robertson and Oregon State junior Jonathan Smith.
In the great tradition of walk-ons at Arizona State that includes NFL first-round draft pick Adam Archuleta, there are currently seven players on the Sun Devil depth chart who at least began their careers as walk-ons. Those Sun Devils are senior Levi Jones, Krohn, senior tailback Tom Pace, sophomore cornerback Adrian Thomas, junior safety Patrick Wilson, senior long snapper B.J. Miller and junior snapper Jay Breckenridge.
The Century MarkThe Sun Devils have three tailbacks on the roster who have each rushed for 100 yards or more in a game in their ASU careers. Last season, Tom Pace turned in three 100-yard rushing games (103 yards vs. Washington State, 158 vs. Oregon and 139 vs. Boston College), while Mike Williams turned in a 143-yard showing against Colorado State last season to become the first true freshman to top the century mark since Mario Bates rushed for 161 yards against Arizona at home on Nov. 23, 1991.
Delvon Flowers, who missed all of last season following an ACL tear in preseason camp, topped the century mark on two occasions in 1999, including a career-high 161 yards at Oregon.
Arizona State holds a 232-42-5 (.841) all-time record when a player gains 100 yards or more.
Trio Away From Home A Bit UnusualArizona State's three straight road games to begin the Pac-10 season marks a rare occurrence. Only six other times (by four teams) since 1978, the year the league expanded to 10 teams, has a Pac-10 team opened the season with its first three conference games being on the road, and only twice in the past 17 seasons. ASU does have three non-conference home games in the middle of its stretch, but its first three Pac-10 games against UCLA (Sept. 15), Stanford (Sept. 22) and USC (Oct. 13) are on the road. The other Pac-10 schools who have opened the league with its first three games on the road are Oregon State (1998 and 1982), California (1990 and 1979), USC (1984) and UCLA (1981).
If It Seems Late, It Is...Arizona State does not play a Pac-10 home game until Oct. 20, by far the latest in the Pac-10 this year. The Sun Devils and Washington are the only schools to not have a Pac-10 home game until October, and the Huskies open on Oct. 6 against USC. ASU's Pac-10 home opener vs. Oregon State on Oct. 20 is the sixth-game of the season for ASU. Only one time has ASU had its Pac-10 home opener later in the calendar year in its 24 seasons of Pac-10 play, and that was in 1989 when ASU played seven conference games. The Sun Devils had four non-conference home games to start the year in 1989, traveled to UCLA and Oregon State to begin the Pac-10 season and then opened the home Pac-10 slate on Oct. 21.
In OvertimeArizona State played in three consecutive overtime games in 2000 to set an NCAA record. The Sun Devils began that stretch with a 23-20 OT victory at Washington State and then suffered a pair of defeats in double overtime at home, falling to Oregon 56-55 and to USC the following week 44-38. Arizona State now holds a 3-2 record in overtime since the rule was instituted in 1996. Before this season, the Sun Devils had not played more than one overtime game in a given year.
Seven Pac-10 games went into overtime in 2000 (including two in double-overtime and two in triple-overtime), surpassing the previous high of six for the league in 1996. Washington State also played in three overtime contests in 2000. Other than 1996, the most OT contests in one season in the Pac-10 has been three.