Football Opens Home Season with Eastern Washington Saturday Night
Aug. 26, 2002
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Following last week's 48-10 season-opening loss at No. 10/8 Nebraska in the Black Coaches Association Classic, the Sun Devils kick off their home schedule with a non-conference game vs. Eastern Washington Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium. Off to the earliest start in school history and the beginning of the longest regular season in the university annals, Arizona State is looking to snap a six-game losing streak dating back to the last five games of last season.
The Sun Devils have won their last three home openers, including last year's season-opening 38-7 victory over San Diego State at Sun Devil Stadium. The Eastern Washington game marks the beginning of a streak that will see Arizona State play five of six games at Sun Devil Stadium. The matchup with the Eagles replaced Arizona State's home game with Oklahoma that was canceled by the Sooners 15 months ago.
In the SeriesSaturday night's game will mark the first meeting between Arizona State and Eastern Washington. ASU holds a 18-14-4 all-time record vs. teams from the Big Sky Conference but has not matched up with a team from that league since 1959. ASU head coach Dirk Koetter faced Eastern Washington twice while he was at Boise State, coming up with wins in both games.
ExposureThe Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 13 of ASU's football games, including this week's Eastern Washington game, live on its 16-station network including flagship stations KTAR 620 AM and ESPN Radio 860 AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play), Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst), Vince Marotta (pre- and postgame) and Dave Burns (sidelines) 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.
Home OpenersThe Sun Devils hold a 41-15-1 (.728) record in home openers including wins in their last three and six of their last seven home openers. Last year, ASU opened the season and the home slate with a 38-7 victory over San Diego State on Sept. 8.
Team CaptainsHead coach Dirk Koetter will select single-game captains each week. His selections for the Eastern Washington game are sophomore right guard Drew Hodgdon, sophomore safety Riccardo Stewart and senior linebacker Mason Unck.
Youth MovementThis year's Sun Devil team is a young one featuring 20 players who saw the first action of their ASU careers last Saturday at Nebraska. That total included five true freshmen, eight redshirt freshmen and seven juniors. Redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Christensen and cornerback Josh Golden each started their collegiate debuts Saturday night at Nebraska. ASU's current depth chart features a total of 25 underclassmen (freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores), including eight starters.
The five true freshmen who saw action at Nebraska were safety Matt Fawley, wide receiver Derek Hagan, defensive end Nick Johnson, fullback Mike Talbot and linebacker Jamar Williams. That total already surpasses the number of true freshmen who played last year (four), while ASU's roster features 17 players who saw action during their true freshman seasons: Daryl Lightfoot, Jason Shivers, Barton Hammit and Lamar Baker (2001); Terrell Suggs, Mike Karney, Mike Williams and Skyler Fulton (2000); Solomon Bates, Josh Amobi and Mike Barth (1999); and Justin Taplin (1998).
Last Time OutNo. 10/8 Nebraska scored 38 points in the second half to down Arizona State 48-10 last Saturday in the Black Coaches Association Classic at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. The Sun Devils kept the game close in the first half, going into the lockerroom down just 10-3, thanks in part to a sound defensive effort including eight tackles and three TFLs from sophomore safety Riccardo Stewart in the first half. Nebraska scored on their first drive of the game with a 40-yard field goal, while the Sun Devils got on the board in the first quarter with a 33-yarder by junior Mike Barth. Judd Davies put the Cornhuskers up 10-3 with a two-yard TD run in the second quarter.
NU quarterback Jammal Lord threw the first TD pass of his career and the Huskers returned a blocked punt for touchdown to go up 24-3 in the third quarter. Arizona State cut it to 24-10 when junior Mike Williams broke away on a run up the middle, but Nebraska countered with a field goal and Dahrran Diedrick's 2-yard dive over the top with 7:12 left in the game, which was set up by NUs second blocked punt of the game, tying an ASU single-game record. Nebraska scored twice more in the final two minutes of the game including a 29-yard interception return by Fabian Washington for the final TD.
For the Sun Devils, redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Christensen went 6-for-16 for 77 yards in his first collegiate game, while Williams had 12 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. Stewart finished with a career-best 10 tackles and three TFLs for a loss of nine yards, while sophomore Jason Shivers again led the team in tackles with 16 (seven unassisted).
Young GunSophomore free safety Jason Shivers led the Sun Devils in tackles with 16 last week at Nebraska, marking the sixth time in his young career that he has paced the team in the category. His total of 16 tackles (seven solos, nine assists) vs. the Huskers was also just one shy of his career high of 17 last year vs. Washington.
Last year as a true freshman, Shivers led the Sun Devils and finished eighth in the Pac-10 with an average of 8.1 tackles per game. With his 89 tackles (51 solo stops), the Sporting News Freshman All-American became the first Sun Devil freshman to lead the team in tackles and the first underclassman since Darren Woodson turned in 122 tackles as a sophomore in 1989.
The leader of ASU's very young backfield, Shivers turned in a career-best 17 tackles last Oct. 27 against Washington (four solos, 13 assists), which was the third-highest single-game total in the Pac-10 last year. It also marked the most tackles by a Sun Devil since Joe Cesta had 17 (12 solo) in a 1998 loss at Oregon.
Early BirdsArizona State's August 24th game at Nebraska in the BCA Classic marked the earliest start to the football season in school history. The August 24th start was six days earlier than the previous earliest season opener, which was in 1997 when the team opened at home vs. New Mexico State on Aug. 30. Only two other Division I-A football games were played earlier this season with Colorado State's Aug. 22 game at Virginia being the earliest. A total of four Division I-A games were played on Aug. 24.
The Sun Devils' 2002 season will also enter uncharted waters as the team will play 13 regular-season games, the most in school history. Taking into account the number of scheduled games and the early start, ASU will have played three games by the time that many teams will have just kicked off the 2002 campaign.
Who's BackThe Sun Devils return 40 letterwinners including 12 starters and two specialists in senior placekicker Mike Barth and senior long snapper Jay Breckenridge. The four offensive starters slated to return are OL Regis Crawford, TE Mike Pinkard, FB Mike Karney and WR Shaun McDonald. TB Mike Williams also returns on offense after starting seven games in two years (four last year). On defense, eight returning starters include DE Brian Montesanto & Terrell Suggs, LB Mason Unck & Solomon Bates, CB R.J. Oliver & Lamar Baker, S Alfred Williams and FS Jason Shivers.
Suggs on Lombardi & Nagurski Watch ListsA preseason All-American and All-Pac-10 selection, junior defensive end Terrell Suggs is on the preseason watch lists for two of the most prestigous awards in college football, the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
Suggs is one of 49 players on the preseason watch list for the 33rd 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, players had to have earned All-America or first-team all-conference honors last year. The Lombardi Award watch list will be narrowed down to 12 semifinalists later in the fall with the winner to be announced on December 11 in Houston.
Suggs is also listed among the 64 players on the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top collegiate defensive player. The winner is selected by the 800-member Football Writers Association of America and will be presented on Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C.
In just two seasons, Suggs has already climbed into the top 10 on the ASU career lists for sacks and tackles for loss. The team leader in each category in each of the last two seasons, he had two TFLs and a sack at Nebraska on Saturday night to move into fifth with 21 career sacks and seventh in career TFLs with 36. Last year, the third-team Football News All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 selection led the Pac-10 in solo sacks and tied for first with four forced fumbles. Suggs finished second in the conference in total sacks (10 for 57 yards) and tackles for loss (18 for 79 yards).
ASU Career Sacks1. 41 Shante Carver, 1990-932. 28 Vernon Maxwell, 1979-823. 26 Scott Stephen, 1983-864. 22 Bob Kohrs, 1978-795. 21 Terrell Suggs, 2000-present6. 20 Jim Jeffcoat, 1979-82
ASU Career Tackles for Loss1. 58 Bob Kohrs, 1976-792. 57 Shante Carver, 1990-93 57 Al Harris, 1975-784. 56 Vernon Maxwell, 1979-825. 53 Adam Archuleta, 1997-006. 46 Scott Stephen, 1983-867. 36 Terrell Suggs, 2000-present
Lighting Up the ScoreboardThe Sun Devils averaged 34.0 points per game in 2001, which tied for third in the Pac-10 with conference champion Oregon and 19th in the nation. ASU scored 49 touchdowns last season (22 rushing, 24 passing, 1 interception return, 1 fumble recovery, 1 kickoff return), which marked the most since the team had 64 in 1996. At home, ASU averaged 37.5 points per game (263 points in seven games), while ASU's 34.0 points per game were the most for the team since 1996 when the Pac-10 champion and Rose Bowl-bound Sun Devils averaged 40.7 points per contest.
All-Conference SelectionsFour Sun Devils earned first-team All-Pac-10 Conference honors in 2001, trailing just UCLA which had five first-team selections. A total of 10 Sun Devils appeared on the list of all-conference honorees last year, while nine players earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors. (Players returning in 2002 in bold).
All-Pac-10 First Team: WR Shaun McDonald, OL Levi Jones, OL Scott Peters, DE Terrell Suggs
All-Pac-10 Second Team: P Nick Murphy
Racking up the Receiving YardsA preseason second-team All-American by Athlon and an All-Pac-10 selection by several publications, junior wide receiver Shaun McDonald heads into the 2002 season as second-best returning receiver in the country in catches and receiving yards, behind just Wisconsin senior Lee Evans who had 75 catches and 1,535 yards in 2001. With 1,104 receiving yards in 2001, McDonald finished second on the ASU single-season charts, just 40 yards shy of the single-season mark of 1,144 yards set by Morris Owens in 1973. He became only the fifth Sun Devil in school history to amass 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and his total of 1,104 yards nearly triples the 358 yards he had the previous year as a redshirt freshman. McDonald led the Pac-10 and finished 10th in the nation with an average of 100.4 yards per game. He also shattered ASU single-season marks for receiving yards per game (100.4 ypg) and receiving yards per catch (23.5 ypc), records previously held by Ron Fair (98.3 yards per game in 1989) and Morris Owens (22.0 yards per catch in 1973).
A 2001 first-team All-Pac-10 selection, McDonald turned in a total of five 100-yard games last season, matching the five that Keith Poole had in 1996 and just one shy of the six that Ron Fair had in 1989. McDonald caught 10 touchdown passes in 2001 which ranks fifth on the ASU single-season list for TD catches. He caught at least one touchdown pass in all but four games last year.
McDonald opened the 2002 season with a solid performance, catching seven passes for 73 yards. He has now caught at least one pass in each of the last 16 games, dating back to the 2000 season.
ASU Single-Season Receiving Yards (Catches)1. 1,144 Morris Owens (52), 19732. 1,104 Shaun McDonald (47), 20013. 1,082 Ron Fair (64), 19894. 1,036 Keith Poole (55), 19955. 1,009 J.D. Hill (61), 19706. 974 Greg Hudson (62), 1973
ASU Single-Season Touchdown Catches1. 14 Doug Allen, 19842. 12 Steve Holden, 19723. 11 Keith Poole, 1996 11 J.D. Hill, 19705. 10 Shaun McDonald, 2001
Kickoff NotesThe Sun Devils excelled on kickoffs and kickoff returns last season. ASU ranked second in the Pac-10 and ninth in the nation with an average of 25.04 yards per kickoff return, while all three kickoff returners appeared in the Pac-10's individual top 10, including returner Mike Williams who was seventh in the league standings with 23.4 yards per return.
NFL Draft NotesWith left tackle Levi Jones being taken by the Cincinnati Bengals as the 10th pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, it marked the third straight season and 20th overall that a Sun Devil has been taken in the first round. Arizona State had a total of four offensive linemen drafted in the first round in 2002 (Jones, Scott Peters, Travis Scott and Kyle Kosier). Since the NFL Draft has gone to its current format of seven rounds in 1994, only Penn State in 1996 has had four offensive linemen taken in the draft.
ASU Hall of Fame InducteesA pair of former Sun Devil football standouts, Danny Villa and Freddie Williams, will be among the 12 inductees into the Arizona State Hall of Fame this season. All 12 inductees will be honored at halftime of the Homecoming/Hall of Fame football game on Oct. 26 vs. Washington at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field and at ceremonies throughout the weekend.
Villa (1983-86) was team captain and anchor of the 1986 offensive line that propelled Arizona State to its first Pac-10 Conference title and the 1987 Rose Bowl crown. Villa was a 1986 consensus All-America pick by the Associated Press and the Football Writers Association, the first offensive lineman at Arizona State to achieve this status. He also won the 1986 Morris Trophy winner as the Pac-10 Offensive Lineman of the Year, as voted by the conference's defensive linemen.
'Fast Freddie' Williams (1973-76) earned Associated Press honorable-mention All-America status in 1975 and AP and UPI honorable-mention All-America in 1974. Williams was an All-Western Athletic Conference selection in 1974 and 1975 and helped the 1975 team post an undefeated 12-0 record, a Fiesta Bowl victory and a No. 2 final national ranking. He currently is the second all-time leading rusher in Arizona State history with 3,424 yards and 17 career 100-yard games.
Jefferson to Be Inducted into College Hall of FameFormer ASU wide receiver John Jefferson (1974-77) will be one of 13 players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this fall. Jefferson becomes the third Sun Devil to be inducted into the College Hall of Fame. Legendary head coach es Dan Devine and Frank Kush were inducted in 1985 and 1996, respectively, quarterback Danny White was inducted in 1997 and defensive back Mike Haynes was inducted in 2001.
A 1979 inductee into the Arizona State Hall of Fame, Jefferson is known as arguably the greatest pass-catcher in the history of the program. Jefferson rewrote the university, Western Athletic Conference and NCAA record books. A consensus All-America selection in 1977 and two-time all-conference pick, Jefferson concluded his career with an NCAA record 42 consecutive games with a reception. He remains the ASU all-time leader in career receptions with 188 and career receiving yardage with 2,993 yards. Recognized as Arizona Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1977, Jefferson was twice selected as the team's Most Valuable Player and led the team in receiving all four years.
Following graduation, Jefferson was selected fourth overall in the first round of the 1978 National Football League draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played parts of eight NFL seasons with the Chargers, Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns, being named to the Pro Bowl four times. After retiring, Jefferson became an assistant coach at the University of Kansas before becoming director of player development for the Washington Redskins.
Silver AnniversaryThe 2002 football season will mark Arizona State's 25th year as a member of the Pacific-10 Conference, a milestone which is commemorated on the covers of this season's football media guide. The covers feature a collage of many of the players, coaches and moments that have contributed to ASU's successes in the Pac-10, including the Sun Devils' 1986 and 1996 Pac-10 Championship seasons.
RELATED NEWS & VIDEOS
TODAY | 7:00pm PTLive
TOMORROW | 2:00pm PTLive
TOMORROW | 5:00pm PTLive