Football Looks To Bounce Back With Saturday Matchup Against Oregon
Oct. 6, 2003
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Coming off a 37-17 loss to 10th-ranked USC last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils wrap up their two-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, playing host to the Oregon Ducks on Family/Parents Weekend at Sun Devil Stadium in a regional ABC broadcast. Arizona State will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak (all three to teams currently ranked in the national polls) and notch the team's first Pac-10 win of the year. The Sun Devils, who will honor College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ron Pritchard at halftime, look to avoid the team's first four-game losing streak since dropping the last five games of the 2001 season. Hosting the Ducks for just the second time in six years and coming off last year's 45-42 win in Eugene, ASU will also be looking for its first back-to-back wins in the series with Oregon since winning three straight from 1995-97. Oregon brings a 4-2 overall mark and a 1-1 Pac-10 record into Saturday afternoon's game. The Ducks opened the 2003 season with four straight wins, including a 31-27 victory over then No. 3 Michigan, but have lost their last two games including a 17-13 loss at Utah last Friday night.
In the Series
Arizona State leads the all-time series with Oregon 14-9 dating back to a first meeting in 1966. Arizona State snapped a four-game Oregon winning streak in the series last year with a 45-42 victory over the then sixth-ranked Ducks on Oct. 19, 2002 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. The Sun Devils hold a 7-3 record against the Ducks in games played in Tempe. Saturday will mark just the second time in six seasons that ASU has hosted Oregon at Sun Devil Stadium, while Arizona State will be looking for its first home win in the series since Nov. 15, 1997 when the Sun Bowl-bound Sun Devils racked up 623 yards of total offense, including 405 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, en route to a 52-31 victory in Tempe.
Wild Devil-Duck Matchups
In recent years, the meetings between Arizona State and Oregon have had a tendency to get a little wild. With the exception of a 42-24 Oregon victory in 2001, three of the last four games have been decided by a combined seven points. Last year, Arizona State rallied from a three-touchdown deficit, falling behind 21-0 in the second quarter before coming back to earn the 45-42 victory. ASU quarterback Andrew Walter completed 31-of-53 passes for a Pac-10-record 536 yards and four touchdowns to lead ASU to the win, while the two teams combined for 87 points and 1,049 yards of total offense, including a whopping 847 yards and seven touchdowns through the air.
In 1999, Oregon staged a wild 20-17 come-from-behind victory which saw Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington throw a 29-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left to win the game in Eugene, while in 2000, Harrington completed a 17-yard TD pass with 27 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and help Oregon to a 56-55 double-overtime victory in Tempe. In that 2000 game, the two teams combined for an ASU-record 111 points, 866 passing yards and 1,232 yards of total offense. Even in UO's 42-24 in 2001, the two teams combined to score 66 points and rack up 809 yards of total offense.
Three members of the Arizona State coaching staff, including head coach Dirk Koetter, have ties to the University of Oregon. Koetter spent two seasons in Eugene (1996-97) as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach...Assistant head coach/special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Tom Osborne came to Tempe after spending six seasons at Oregon (1995-00) where he coached the two top tight ends in Duck history and transformed Oregon's special teams into the best unit in the Pac-10 and one of the best in the country. During his tenure, the Ducks' special teams units accounted for 10 touchdowns and blocked 22 kicks...Quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator Mark Helfrich, a 1996 graduate of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, and a Coos Bay native, spent one season in Eugene, serving as Oregon's offensive graduate assistant in 1997 under then offensive coordinator Koetter.
ABC will broadcast Saturday's game live to a regional audience with Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts and Todd Harris calling the action. It will mark the fourth straight television appearance of the year and the second consecutive ABC appearance for the Sun Devils who lost to USC last week in a regional ABC broadcast.
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.
Pritchard to Be Honored in On-Campus Salute
Arizona State will honor former Sun Devil linebacker Ron Pritchard (1966-68) during halftime of the Oregon game. Pritchard will be one of 11 players and two coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., later this fall. Pritchard 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 helps raise funds for the United Food Bank in Arizona.
Last Time Out
The Arizona State Sun Devils played hard but couldn't hold on down the stretch as the 10th-ranked USC Trojans rallied to win 37-17 at Sun Devil Stadium. Sophomore wide receiver Derek Hagan provided ASU's offensive punch, catching eight passes for 175 yards (both career highs).
The Trojans got off to an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Matt Leinart found wide receiver Keary Colbert on a 57-yard touchdown pass. On the next drive, ASU countered with a 35-yard pass to Hagan from junior quarterback Andrew Walter, which set up a 12-yard pass from Walter to senior wide receiver Skyler Fulton for a TD, tying the game 7-7. ASU wrapped up the first quarter with a 72-yard drive that started on its own 20-yard line. The drive ended with a 25-yard field goal by freshman kicker Jessie Ainsworth, giving ASU an early 10-7 lead. After trading punts for the remainder of the second quarter, USC took possession on the ASU 3-yard line with 32 seconds to play in the first half and moved the ball to the middle of the field, setting up a 45-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Killeen to tie the game at 10-10 heading into halftime.
Walter led the Sun Devils out on the field in the third quarter and put together an impressive 80-yard drive. After finding wide receiver Terry Richardson on a 34-yard pass play, Walter hooked up with Hagan for another 25 yards, bringing ASU down to the USC 5-yard line. Three plays later, redshirt freshman tailback Loren Wade punched it in for the score with a 1-yard run, giving the Devils a 17-10 lead.
USC took control of the game from there, driving 80 yards down field on its next possession in 2:43. True freshman tailback LenDale White ran the ball 25 yards into the end zone for the Trojans to tie the game up at 17-17. Forcing the ASU offense into a three-and-out, USC took over on its own 25-yard line and Leinart found receivers Mike Williams and Brandon Hancock both for 33-yard pass receptions, the latter for a TD and a 24-17 USC lead.
USC opened up the fourth quarter with a quick score when Leinart found receiver Dominique Byrd open for a 55-yard reception, setting up a 28-yard field goal by Killeen. Two minutes later, Killeen scored again on another USC field goal, his third of the day, with a 38-yard attempt to stretch the Trojan lead to 30-17. Forcing the Sun Devils to turn over the ball on downs, USC again gave the ball to White, who rushed the ball 29 yards and scored a TD on a 6-yard carry to cap off the 37-17 victory. For ASU, sophomore Hakim Hill led the team in rushing for the second straight week with 74 yards on 27 carries. Walter finished the game with a season-high 305 passing yards, completing 19-of-38 attempts with one TD and an interception. Junior safety Riccardo Stewart collected 11 tackles to lead the defense for the third time in five games. He also added his team-leading third interception of the year, while juniors Justin Burks and Jason Shivers each had a sack.
Hagan Has Career Day
Sophomore wide receiver Derek Hagan turned in a career day last week against USC, catching eight passes for 170 yards. He played a key role in setting up both of ASU's touchdown drives on Saturday, hauling in receptions of 35 and eight yards to help set up quarterback Andrew Walter's 12-yard scoring strike to senior Skyler Fulton in the first quarter. He also caught a 24-yard pass to get ASU to the USC 5-yard line in the third quarter, a drive which ended a one-yard TD run by redshirt freshman Loren Wade. Hagan's previous career bests were 95 yards in ASU's upset at then No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, 2002 and six catches at USC on Nov. 16 of last year. Hagan is second on the team in receiving this season with 20 catches for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, Hagan broke College Football Hall of Famer John Jefferson's record for receptions by an ASU freshman with 32 catches (for 405 yards) on the year.
Spreading the Wealth
The Sun Devils have had a different receiver lead the team in each of their five games this season, most recently, sophomore Derek Hagan who hauled in a career-best eight catches for 170 yards last week vs. No. 10 USC. Junior quarterback Andrew Walter completed four touchdown passes to three different Sun Devils vs. Northern Arizona in ASU's season-opener on Sept. 6. Sophomore Moey Mutz, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, led the Sun Devil receivers with three catches for 75 yards and two TDs vs. NAU, while senior Skyler Fulton led the team with eight catches for 172 yards and a pair of TDs vs. Utah State on Sept. 13. The Sun Devils had three players turn in career highs in receiving Sept. 20 at Iowa, led by sophomore Matt Miller who caught a career-high seven passes for 45 yards, while sophomore tailback Hakim Hill led the team with six catches for a career-best 92 yards Sept. 27 at Oregon State.
ASU Game-by-Game Receiving Leaders
Opponent Leader Catches YardsNorthern Arizona Moey Mutz 3 75Utah State Skyler Fulton 8 172at #18/14 Iowa Matt Miller 7 45at Oregon State Hakim Hill 6 92vs. #10/10 USC Derek Hagan 8 170
Stewart Leading The Defense
Junior safety Riccardo Stewart led the team in tackles last week against USC, matching his career best with 11 tackles, including seven solo stops. It marked the third time in five games this season and the seventh time in his career that Stewart has led the team in tackles. He paced the team in the category in each of the first two games this season, including 10 tackles (8 solo) Sept. 13 vs. Utah State and 11 tackles (8 solo) in ASU's season-opener vs. Northern Arizona on Sept. 6. Stewart ranks third in the Pac-10 this season with 9.4 tackles per game, trailing only UCLA's Brandon Chillar (12.4 tackles per game) and fellow teammate and junior safety Jason Shivers (10.0).
In addition to his team-leading 11 tackles last week vs. No. 10 USC, junior safety Riccardo Stewart picked off his team-leading third pass of the year. He and fellow safety Jason Shivers lead the team with three interceptions each this season. Shivers, who has played in four of five games this year, leads the Pac-10 and ranks 10th in the nation with 0.75 interceptions per game, while Stewart is tied for fourth in the league and 13th in the nation with 0.60 picks per game.
Arizona State has had five different players grab nine interceptions this year with at least one interception in all five games this year. Shivers (three), Stewart (three), senior safety Brett Hudson, senior defensive tackle Shane Jones and junior cornerback R.J. Oliver have all picked off passes for the Sun Devils this season. Last year, the Sun Devils also spread the wealth in interceptions with 13 players combining for ASU's Pac-10-leading 22 picks (led by R.J. Oliver and Brett Hudson who each had four picks last year). This season, ASU is tied for third in the Pac-10 with nine interceptions, trailing only Washington State (14) and UCLA (10) in the category this year and matching the nine that the 2002 team had through five games last year.
Shivers grabbed two of ASU's season-high-tying three interceptions Sept. 27 at Oregon State (ASU also had three picks vs. Utah State), marking the second time in his career that he has picked off two passes, with the first occasion being last year's 34-20 victory at Arizona on Nov. 29, 2002. ASU had three interceptions Sept. 13 against Utah State, including an interception return for touchdown by Stewart. Hudson also snagged his first interception of the year and the fifth of his ASU career vs. the Aggies, while Jones had his first career pick in that game. Stewart's touchdown marked the second straight game that an ASU player returned an interception for TD, after Oliver tied the ASU mark for longest return with a 100-yarder in ASU's season-opener vs. Northern Arizona. Oliver became the 10th player in Pac-10 history (and the second Sun Devil) to return an interception 100 yards for touchdown (ASU junior Emmanuel Franklin also had a 100-yard interception return in the 2001 season-opener against San Diego State). That marked the team-leading seventh career interception for Oliver, who led the Pac-10 in passes defended last year and is on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Shivers Causing Shivers
Junior free safety Jason Shivers has averaged 12.0 tackles per game over the last three games, including a game-high 13 Sept. 27 at Oregon State. Shivers also paced the team and tied career highs with 17 tackles and 13 solo stops Sept. 20 at Iowa. That marked the most for Shivers since turning 17 tackles (13 solo) vs. Washington on Oct. 27, 2001 in Tempe. Both marks were the most tackles for a Sun Devil since Joe Cesta had 18 tackles (12 solo) vs. Oregon in 1998. In addition, Shivers is leading the Pac-10 and ranked 10th in the nation in interceptions with three so far this year (0.75 picks per game). Shivers, who led the team in tackles in each of his first two seasons in Tempe, is averaging 8.6 tackles per game in his short career with 10 games in double figures in the category (250 tackles, 29 games). At 10.0 tackles per game this year, Shivers is ranked second in the Pac-10, while with 40 total tackles (29 solo), he is seven tackles behind fellow junior safety Riccardo Stewart for the team lead in the category despite missing the Utah State game with an injury. On the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, Shivers has led the team in tackles 15 times in his three seasons in Tempe.
Top of the Hill
Sophomore tailback Hakim Hill led the team in both rushing and receiving Sept. 27 at Oregon State, becoming the first Sun Devil since Michael Martin in 1996 to pace the team in both categories. Hill, who made his first career start in the game vs. the Beavers, turned in career bests with 24 carries for 115 yards on the ground and 92 yards through the air (six catches) against Oregon State. Martin had 20 carries for 92 yards and one rushing touchdown and five catches for 74 yards and one receiving TD against Washington in a 45-42 ASU win on Sept. 7, 1996, ASU's season-opener in a year that saw the team notch an 11-0 regular season record and a 1997 Rose Bowl appearance. Hill's 115 rushing yards marked the most for a Sun Devil since current senior Mike Williams turned in 162 yards on 40 carries in ASU's win at Arizona last season. ASU is now 235-43-5 (.839) all time when having a player gain 100 or more rushing yards. Hill had another solid effort last week vs. USC, leading the team with 27 carries for 74 yards. On the season, he ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in rushing at 52.6 yards per game with 65 carries for 263 yards (4.0 yards per carry).
Getting to the Quarterback
Arizona State's defense has 20 quarterback sacks through its first five games this season, which ties the Sun Devils for second in the Pac-10, just one behind league-leader USC's 21. ASU's 20 sacks are right on the pace of 20 sacks the 2002 team, led by NCAA record-holder Terrell Suggs, amassed in the first five games last season (4.0 vs. Nebraska, 5.0 vs. Eastern Washington, 5.0 vs. Central Florida, 5.0 at San Diego State, 1.0 vs. Stanford). ASU sacked Utah State quarterback Travis Cox a total of seven times on Sept. 13, the most since the team had eight (led by Suggs' four) in a Oct. 26 win over Washington last year. Last season, the Sun Devils finished second in the Pac-10 with a total of 51.0 sacks. Senior Brian Montesanto and junior Jimmy Verdon lead the team with three sacks apiece this season. A total of 13 Sun Devils have gotten at least half a sack this season, including junior free safety Jason Shivers who had his first sack of the season last week vs. USC. On the other side of the ball, the Arizona State offensive line is ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in sacks allowed, giving up 10 sacks on the year. Prior to allowing five sacks vs. USC last week, the Sun Devils had led the league after allowing only five sacks in the first four games of the season.
Fulton's Career Day
Senior wide receiver Skyler Fulton had a career day in ASU's Sept. 13 win over Utah State, catching eight passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns (all career highs). Of his career-high eight catches vs. the Aggies, seven were for 15 or more yards and five resulted in a first down. Fulton leads the team with 67.6 receiving yards per game (23 catches for 338 yards and a team-best four TDs), while he is tied for ninth in the league with 4.6 receptions per game. Fulton is averaging 14.7 yards per catch, while 12 of his 23 catches this season have resulted in a first down or touchdown.
Fulton Named to AFCA Good Works Team
Senior wide receiver Skyler Fulton has been named to the 2003 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team for his dedication and commitment to community service. The AFCA selected 11 players for the Division I-A Good Works Team. Nominees have to be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities and display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. Athletic ability is not a criterion. Fulton, who continues to lead the Sun Devils in receiving this year, has worked and taught in three schools whose population is primarily minority and underprivileged. He has also helped to raise his teammate's and close friend's toddler son, watching the child so his teammate can attend class, workout and meet with tutors. Additionally, during the fall semesters, he spends a great deal of time with the incoming freshman football student-athletes to help them transition into the culture of intercollegiate athletics. Fulton is the first Sun Devil on the Good Works Team since fellow wide receiver Mike Aguirre in 2000.
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter turned in a season-best 305 yards on 19-of-38 passing with one TD last week against then No. 10 USC. He has turned in solid efforts in all five games of the 2003 season and ranks fifth in the league in passing yards per game (239.4) and total offense (225.6). Walter holds a 7-10 record as ASU's starter and has completed 408 passes for 5,620 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career.
With his 305 yards last week vs. USC, Walter ranks sixth on the ASU list with 5,620 career passing yards and needs just 141 yards to reach the top five on the list (No. 5 - 5,761 yards by Paul Justin, 1987-90) after just 30 career games. Walter also needs just four passing touchdowns to move into ASU's career top six, while he is tied for 36th with two players (Cal's Mike Pawlawski 1988-91 and USC's Brad Otton 1994-96) on the Pac-10's career touchdown passes list with 40 career scoring strikes. He needs two more to move in the league's top 30 in the category.
In ASU's season-opening victory against Northern Arizona, Walter completed 15-of-24 passes for 224 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Walter threw four TD passes to three different receivers vs. NAU, marking the fifth time in his career that he has had at least four scoring strikes in a game.
Last year, 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 fourth-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 TDs 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 sixth-best season in Pac-10 history. He finished third in the league and 18th in the nation in total offense.
Putting the Special in Special Teams
Senior punter Tim Parker ranks fourth in the Pac-10 and 17th in the nation this season, averaging 44.2 yards per punt with 10 of his 35 punts downed inside the 20...he tied his career high with 10 punts Sept. 20 at Iowa, gaining 437 yards with three touchbacks and one punt downed inside the 10...Parker handled both the punting and placekicking duties vs. NAU and Utah State, becoming the first Sun Devil to handle both duties since Stephen Baker was the placekicker and backup punter in 1998 and 1999...true freshman kicker Jesse Ainsworth replaced Parker as the placekicker on ASU's last extra-point attempt in the Utah State game...Ainsworth connected on his first career field goal Sept. 27 at Oregon State with a 34-yarder in the third quarter...he is 2-of-4 on field goal attempts and is 3-of-3 on extra-point attempts this year...sophomore Josh Golden leads the Pac-10 and ranks 30th in the nation in punt returns, averaging 11.9 yards per return...he had four punt returns for 78 yards in ASU's season-opener vs. NAU which was the most for a Sun Devil since Justin Taplin had four punt returns for 84 yards vs. Oregon State in 2001...Golden's 42-yarder in the second quarter of that game was also the longest since Taplin had a 62-yard punt return in that 2001 game...as a team, Arizona State ranks third in the league and 38th in the nation in punt returns (10.8 yards per return) and fifth in the Pac-10 and 29th in the nation in net punting (37.9 yards per punt).
Notes on the Defense
Two Sun Devils rank in the Pac-10's top five in tackles led by junior safety Jason Shivers who is second at 10.0 tackles per game...junior Riccardo Stewart is third in the league at 9.4 tackles per game, while sophomore safety Matt Fawley is 12th at 7.2 stops per game.... Fawley turned in a career-high 11 tackles Sept. 20 at Iowa...junior defensive end Ishmael Thrower, who has started the last three games, had a career outing Sept. 20 at Oregon State with five tackles, three TFLs for a loss of 25 yards and two sacks for 15 yards (all career bests)...ASU's interception returns for touchdown by juniors R.J. Oliver and Riccardo Stewart in the first two games marked the first TDs by the ASU defense in back-to-back games since the 1995 season when Scott Van der Ahe had a 31-yard interception return for TD vs. BYU and Mike Langridge had a 32-yard fumble return for TD the following week vs. Oregon...the two interception returns for TD also matched the two the Sun Devils had all of last year. Last season, graduated senior Josh Amobi and current senior Connor Banks both returned interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter of a 46-13 win over Central Florida on Sept. 7.
Scoring Through the Air
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter threw four touchdown passes Sept. 6 against Northern Arizona, marking the fifth time in his career that he has had at least four TD passes in a game. Walter added a pair more in against both Utah State on Sept. 13 and Oregon State on Sept. 27. He has 40 TD passes in his career which ties him for 36th on the Pac-10's career touchdown passes list. Walter also needs four more TD passes to move into ASU's career top six in the category after only 30 career games. His career high in a single game is five in last year's 65-24 win over Stanford.
In the Rankings
The Sun Devils dropped out of the polls this week following their third straight loss, receiving no votes in either poll. The team's No. 16 ranking in Sept. 7 and 14 polls matched the highest rank of last season when the Sun Devils climbed to 16th in the Oct. 27 AP poll before falling out two weeks later. It was also the highest national ranking for the Sun Devils since the 1997 Sun Bowl Championship squad finished at 14th in each of the final national polls. 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).
A total of 20 Sun Devils saw the first action of their Arizona State careers in the Sun Devils' first two games including seven true freshmen, nine redshirt freshmen and four juniors. Eighteen of those Sun Devils played in the season opener vs. Northern Arizona, while true freshmen DE Kyle Caldwell and LB DeAndre Johnson saw the first action of their careers last week vs. Utah State. Seven true freshmen have played this year including Caldwell, Johnson, quarterback Sam Keller, kicker Jesse Ainsworth, safeties Josh Barrett and Daniel Varvel and linebacker Mark Washington. ASU's current roster now features 17 players who saw action as true freshmen: Mike Davis Jr., Matt Fawley, Derek Hagan, Nick Johnson, Ali Likio, Mike Talbot, Chaz White and Jamar Williams in 2002; Lamar Baker, Barton Hammit, Daryl Lightfoot and Jason Shivers in 2001; and Mike Karney, Mike Williams and Skyler Fulton in 2000.