No. 21 Sun Devils Open 2003 Football Season Saturday Against Northern Arizona
Sept. 1, 2003
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Arizona State opens the 91st season of Sun Devil football this week as the No. 20/21 Sun Devils play host to Northern Arizona Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium. With 37 returning letterwinners and 16 returning starters, head coach Dirk Koetter and the Sun Devils head into Koetter's third year at the helm with high expectations. ASU is ranked in the national preseason polls for the first time since 1999 and has been picked to finish second in the Pac-10's preseason poll.
Arizona State's match-up with NAU marks the first meeting between the two teams in 53 years, while the Sun Devils will be looking to win their fourth season opener in five years. Northern Arizona (1-0) heads to Tempe after turning in a 44-3 win in the Lumberjacks' season-opener with St. Mary's last weekend in Flagstaff. Following ASU's season-opener against NAU, the Sun Devils play host to Utah State on Sept. 13 before heading to Iowa City, Iowa, to take on the 2002 Big Ten Co-Champion Iowa Hawkeyes.
In the Series
Arizona State holds a 16-14-4 record in the all-time series with NAU including a 9-6-2 record at home, while this year's match-up between the intrastate schools will mark the first meeting in 53 years. ASU turned in a 63-0 victory in Tempe on Oct. 7, 1950 in that last meeting. The Sun Devils have won or tied each of the last nine games in the series (eight wins, one tie) with the Lumberjacks and will be looking to win their fifth straight game in the series after earning four straight victories from 1946-50. ASU holds a 19-14-4 all-time record against teams from the Big Sky Conference. The series with the Lumberjacks dates back to 1915 when ASU turned in a 72-3 win in Flagstaff in the first game between the two teams. The schools met annually from 1924-42 and then again in five straight years from 1946-50. After this year's game, the two teams will not meet again until Aug. 30, 2008 in a 12-game season.
The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on its 11-station network including flagship stations KTAR 620 AM and ESPN Radio 860 AM in Phoenix. Tim Healey (play-by-play), Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst), Vince Marotta and Paul Calvisi (pregame, halftime and postgame) will bring the action to Sun Devil fans. Calvisi will also provide reports from the ASU sidelines during home games. ASU games can also be heard live on ASU's official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com.
Arizona State holds a 61-27-2 all-time record (.689) in season openers and a 41-15-1 record (.728) when opening the season at home. The Sun Devils have won three of their last four season openers and 13 of their last 17 despite last year's 48-10 season-opening loss to then No. 10/8 Nebraska on Aug. 24, 2002 in Lincoln, Neb. ASU has won its last two and six of its last seven season-openers at home including a 31-13 victory over Texas Tech in 1999 and a 38-7 victory over San Diego State in 2001.
The Sun Devils return 37 letterwinners including 16 starters and one specialist in punter Tim Parker, a preseason third-team Street and Smith's All-American who led the Pac-10 in punting last year. The nine returning offensive starters are QB Andrew Walter, WR Daryl Lightfoot, LT Regis Crawford, LG Tim Fa'aita, C Tony Aguilar, RG Drew Hodgdon, RT Chaz White, TB Mike Williams and FB Mike Karney. On defense, the seven returning starters include DE Jimmy Verdon, DT Brian Montesanto, DT Shane Jones, CB R.J. Oliver, S Matt Fawley, FS Jason Shivers and CB Brett Hudson. S Riccardo Stewart also returns after starting nine games before missing the last four with a shoulder injury. (note - positions listed are last year's positions - some player positions have changed).
In the Rankings
The Sun Devils are ranked 20th in this week's Associated Press poll and 21st in this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. ASU was ranked 22nd in this year's preseason AP poll and 23rd in the preseason coaches poll, marking the first time that the team has been ranked in the preseason since 1999 (25th-AP). Last year, ASU climbed as high as 16th (AP) and 17th (USA Today) on Oct. 27 before falling out of the polls two weeks later. That was the highest national ranking for the team since the 1997 Sun Bowl Championship squad finished at 14th in each of the final national polls.
Walter on Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp Preseason Watch Lists
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Davey O'Brien Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
The Davey O'Brien Award is given annually to the nation's top collegiate quarterback. The watch list is comprised of 42 Division-I quarterbacks and will be narrowed down to the semifinalists in early November. Three finalists will be chosen later in November, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 11 at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando.
Walter is one of 42 players on the watch list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, which is presented by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in early November. The 2003 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, which is voted on by the 117 Division I-A head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced on the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December. The winner will receive his trophy at the Foundation's annual national awards banquet on Feb. 14, 2004 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven, Conn.
Walter has also been named a second-team All-Pac-10 selection by both Athlon Sports and The Sporting News and is listed as the eighth-best quarterback in the nation by The Sporting News.
Parker on Watch List for Ray Guy Award
Junior punter Tim Parker is one of 32 players on the preseason watch list for the 2003 Ray Guy Award which is annually presented to the top collegiate punter by the Greater Augusta Sports Council.
Parker returns for his senior year after leading the Pac-10 Conference in punting and earning second-team All-Pac-10 honors last season. He averaged 42.7 yards per punt to pace the league and rank 16th in the nation. He turned in 3,372 punting yards which puts him second all time at ASU for punting yards in a season. This year, Parker is listed as the eighth-best punter in the country by The Sporting News and was picked as a third-team preseason All-American by Street & Smith's.
The Ray Guy Award watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in early November. The national voting body will then vote for the three finalists who will be announced in late November. The winner will be announced on Dec. 11 at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando.
Oliver, Shivers on Watch List for Jim Thorpe Award
Juniors R.J. Oliver and Jason Shivers are on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top defensive back.
Oliver is coming off a season that saw him lead the Pac-10 in passes defended with 22 (4 interceptions, 18 PBU's) on his way to earning honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors. Shivers has led the Sun Devils in tackles both of his seasons in Tempe. A 2002 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honoree, Shivers tallied 121 tackles in 2002, which tied for the most in the Pac-10.
The Thorpe Award watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists on Nov. 3 and then to three finalists on Nov. 24. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at ESPN's College Football Awards Show. The official presentation of the award will be in Oklahoma City on Feb. 9.
Sun Devils Picked Second in Pac-10 Media Poll
Arizona State was picked to finish second in the Pac-10, just three points behind first-place USC, in the league's preseason poll of West Coast media members. The Trojans garnered 10 of 25 first-place votes, with the Sun Devils getting nine. It marks the highest preseason pick for the Sun Devils since 1998 when the team picked to finish second behind UCLA.
Pac-10 Preseason Media Poll (first-place votes in parentheses)1. USC (10) 2272. Arizona State (9) 2243. Washington (4) 1984. Oregon State (2) 1725. Oregon 1396. UCLA 1387. Washington State 1078. California 689. Stanford 5710. Arizona 46
In 2002, sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter turned in one of the finest seasons in school history, setting almost every school record for passing yards and total offense. Walter shattered the school record for passing yards in a single season, throwing for 3,877 yards to become the first passer in school history to top 3,000 yards and surpass the previous school record of 2,878 by Danny White in 1973. Despite not earning his first start until the fifth game of the year, Walter, who finished third in the Pac-10 and 19th in the nation in passing efficiency at 137.10, turned in the third-best single-season performance in Pac-10 history and became the first quarterback in Pac-10 history to turn in four 400-yard passing games in a season. No Pac-10 quarterback had ever thrown for more than three in a season and Washington's Cody Pickett and Walter are the only two to ever have four in a career. Walter completed 274 of 483 pass attempts, breaking ASU's single-season marks for attempts and completions - records previously held by Jake Plummer with 348 attempts in 1996 and Todd Hons with 199 completions in 1983 - while Walter's 28 touchdown passes marked the second-best effort in school history behind Mike Pagel who threw 29 TD passes in 1981.
With a 536-yard passing performance to upend No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, Walter set Pac-10 and Arizona State school records for single-game passing yards, surpassing the previous mark of 534 yards by fellow Sun Devil Paul Justin vs. Washington State in 1989. He was named the Oct. 20 Sporting News, cnnsi.com and USA Today.com National Player of the Week in addition to earning his first career Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honor.
Walter also shattered the majority of ASU's total offense records, setting the marks for total yards (3,661 yards) and yards per game (261.5 ypg). He also tied Danny White (1973) with four games with at least 300 yards of total offense and turned in the third-best season in Pac-10 history. He finished third in the league and 18th in the nation in total offense.
ASU Single-Season Passing Yards1. 3,877 Andrew Walter, 20022. 2,878 Danny White, 19733. 2,776 Jake Plummer, 19964. 2,591 Paul Justin, 19895. 2,484 Mike Pagel, 19816. 2,394 Todd Hons, 1983
Pac-10 Single-Season Passing Yards1. 4,458 Cody Pickett, Washington, 20022. 3,942 Carson Palmer, USC, 20023. 3,877 Andrew Walter, Arizona State, 20024. 3,637 Ryan Leaf, Washington State, 19975. 3,627 Steve Stenstrom, Stanford, 19936. 3,499 Pat Barnes, California, 19967. 3,307 Akili Smith, Oregon, 1998
ASU Single-Season Touchdown Passes1. 29 Mike Pagel, 19812. 28 Andrew Walter, 20023. 24 Jake Plummer, 1996 24 Danny White, 19735. 23 Danny White, 19726. 20 John Torok, 19647. 19 Three players tied
ASU Single-Season Passing Attempts1. 483 Andrew Walter, 20022. 348 Jake Plummer, 19963. 337 Jeff Van Raaphorst, 19854. 336 Todd Hons, 19825. 334 Mike Pagel, 19806. 324 Todd Hons, 1983
ASU Single-Season Passing Completions1. 274 Andrew Walter, 20022. 199 Todd Hons, 19833. 198 Jake Plummer, 19964. 188 Jeff Van Raaphorst, 19855. 185 Todd Hons, 19826. 184 Mike Pagel, 1980
ASU Single-Season Total Offense Yards1. 3,661 Andrew Walter, 20022. 3,107 Danny White, 19733. 2,834 Jake Plummer, 19964. 2,511 Mike Pagel, 19815. 2,460 Paul Justin, 19896. 2,443 Danny White, 1972
Lighting Up the Scoreboard
In his two seasons at the helm, head coach Dirk Koetter's offense has turned in an average of 33.0 points per game. Last year, the Sun Devils averaged 32.3 points per game, which ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation. ASU's 45 points in its 45-42 upset at sixth-ranked Oregon on Oct. 19 were the most points in a Pac-10 road game for the team since defeating Arizona 56-14 in Tucson on Nov. 23, 1996, ASU's last regular-season game in that Rose Bowl campaign. The team set a school record for scoring in a Pac-10 game Sept. 28 with its 65-24 win over Stanford, besting the previous mark of 62 points, which also came against Stanford in a 1981 game (62-36 win). The 65 points ASU scored vs. the Cardinal were the most since the team tallied 66 against UTEP on Oct. 22, 1977. It also marked the fifth time that a Dirk Koetter-coached team has topped the 60-point mark (twice at ASU).
In 2001, the Sun Devils averaged 34.0 points per game, which tied for third in the Pac-10 with conference champion Oregon and 19th in the nation. The total marked the most for the team since 1996 when the Pac-10 champion and Rose Bowl-bound Sun Devils averaged 40.7 points per contest.
The Sun Devils forced a Pac-10 Conference-leading 40 turnovers last season, including 22 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles. In 2001, the team forced just 18 turnovers all season. Last year, the Sun Devils had a season-high seven turnovers Sept. 28 vs. Stanford (four interceptions, three fumbles) and four Oct. 12 vs. Oregon State (three interceptions, one fumble).
Thirteen Sun Devils combined for ASU's Pac-10 leading 22 interceptions last year led by R.J. Oliver and Brett Hudson who each picked off four passes to finish tied for sixth in the Pac-10. Oliver also ended up leading the Pac-10 with a total of 22 passes defended. Their four interceptions mark the most for a Sun Devil since Nijrell Eason had five in 2000, while the team's 22 picks were the most for an ASU squad since the 1991 Sun Devils had nine players pick off 23 passes. The Sun Devils snagged four interceptions in the team's Sept. 28 win over Stanford, the most in a single game since ASU had five in a 1998 win over California.
Ten Sun Devils earned All-Pac-10 Conference honors last season including first-teamers Shaun McDonald and Terrell Suggs. Suggs also became the third Sun Devil in school history to be named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Eight Sun Devils earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors, including Mike Williams who was named to the all-academic first team for the second straight year, one of 10 student-athletes in the conference to earn first-team honors for a multiple time. (Players returning in 2003 in bold)
All-Pac-10 Second Team:
P Tim Parker (led Pac-10 in punting)
Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team:
WR Skyler Fulton
NFL Draft Note
With defensive tackle Terrell Suggs being taken by the Baltimore Ravens as the 10th pick of the 2003 NFL Draft, it marked the fourth straight season and 21st time overall that a Sun Devil has been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. In fact, Arizona Stateis just one of three schools in the country to have a player taken in the first round in each of the last four NFL Drafts (Miami and Florida are the other two).
Linebacker Ron Pritchard to Be Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame
Former ASU linebacker Ron Pritchard (1966-68) will be one of 11 players and two coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this fall. Pritchard, who will be honored in an on-campus salute Nov. 11 at ASU's game vs. Oregon, becomes the fourth ASU player and sixth Sun Devil to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Legendary head coaches Dan Devine and Frank Kush were inducted in 1985 and 1996, respectively, while quarterback Danny White was inducted in 1997, defensive back Mike Haynes was inducted in 2001 and John Jefferson was inducted last year.
Arguably the greatest linebacker in the history of the ASU football program, Pritchard was Arizona State's first consensus All-American and led the Sun Devils to a pair of eight-win seasons.
A first-team All-American in 1968, Pritchard was elected team captain, voted Most Valuable Defensive Player by his peers and led the Sun Devils in tackles and interceptions that year. A three-time first-team All-Western Athletic Conference pick, he was selected to the 20-Year WAC All-Star Football Team. Following his senior season, he played in the East-West Shrine Game, the Coaches All-American Game, the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
After his legendary collegiate career, Pritchard was selected 15th overall in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. His professional career ended prematurely after nine years with the Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals due to a knee injury. After his pro football career, he went into sales and eventually ran his own business, Interstate Battery Systems.
Pritchard continues to give back to his community and particularly the game of football. For many years, Pritchard has sponsored and funded a scholarship at his former high school, which goes to aid a scholar-athlete in furthering his or her education. Pritchard also helps raise funds for the United Food Bank in Arizona.