Football Takes To The Road For Showdown Against Northwestern

Sept. 6, 2004

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    Coming off a 41-9 victory over Texas-El Paso in last week's season opener, Arizona State continues the 92nd season of Sun Devil football on Saturday, Sept. 11, traveling to Evanston, Ill., to take on the Northwestern Wildcats (0-1). Saturday's game kicks off at 11 a.m. Central (9 a.m. in Arizona) at NU's Ryan Field and will be televised nationally by ESPN2. The Sun Devils' victory over UTEP last Thursday marked the team's fifth win in their last six season openers, while this weekend, the team looks to get its sixth win in eight tries against teams from the Big Ten Conference and its first since defeating Iowa in the 1997 Sun Bowl. A victory would also snap a streak of three straight road losses and give ASU its first road win since beating North Carolina 33-31 on Oct. 18, 2003 in Chapel Hill. Northwestern opened the 2004 season with a 48-45 double-overtime loss at Texas Christian University last Thursday night.With 47 returning letterwinners and 14 returning starters, fourth-year head coach Dirk Koetter's Sun Devils have been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 by the league's media. Following this week's matchup with the Wildcats, ASU returns to Sun Devil Stadium to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sept. 18 and opens the Pac-10 Conference slate the following weekend by playing host to the Oregon State Beavers, a team picked to finish fourth in the league.

    Exposure
    ESPN2 will televise the Northwestern game to a national audience with Pam Ward (play-by-play), Mike Tomczak (analyst) and Dave Ryan (sidelines) calling the action.The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 11 of ASU's football games live on its 12-station radio network including flagship stations KTAR 620 AM and ESPN Radio 860 AM in Phoenix. Tim Healey (play-by-play), former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) and Paul Calvisi (pregame 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 the Sun Devils' official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com.

    In the Series
    Arizona State holds a 2-0 record in the all-time series with Northwestern, including a 1-0 record in Evanston, Ill. This year's game marks the first meeting between the two schools in 26 years. The Sun Devils turned in a 56-14 victory over the Wildcats in Evanston on Oct. 7, 1978 in the last time these two schools met.

    Sun Devils vs. the Big Ten
    Arizona State holds a 10-5 record against teams from the Big Ten Conference and has won five of its last seven contests against Big Ten schools dating back to a Sept. 13, 1986 victory over Michigan State in that year's season opener at Sun Devil Stadium. Last year, the Sun Devils traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, falling to then No. 18/14 Iowa on Sept. 20, 2003 at Kinnick Stadium. That marked ASU's first trip to a Big Ten venue since defeating Illinois 21-7 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Sept. 12, 1987.This weekend is the first of back-to-back games against opponents from the Big Ten for the Sun Devils who will play host to the Iowa Hawkeyes next weekend at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU's game with NU is the first of five games pitting Pac-10 and Big Ten teams over the next two weeks with Oregon taking on Indiana and UCLA traveling to Illinois this week and ASU playing host to the Hawkeyes and Arizona taking on Wisconsin on Sept. 18.

    Last Time Out
    Forcing four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by senior safety Emmanuel Franklin, the Sun Devils opened the 2004 campaign with a 41-9 victory over the Texas-El Paso Miners in front of 57,528 fans last Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium.On ASU's first drive of the season, senior Andrew Walter connected on four straight passes to lead the team 72 yards downfield to the UTEP five-yard line. Sophomore Jesse Ainsworth hit a 22-yard field goal to give the Devils an early 3-0 advantage in the first quarter.The Sun Devil defense opened the second quarter with a sack of UTEP's Jordan Palmer by junior linebacker Dale Robinson to force the Miners into their fourth straight punt. Taking over on the ASU 17-yard line, the Sun Devil offense drove 63 yards in just 43 seconds when sophomore Terry Richardson hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Walter, his first career TD, to extend the Sun Devil lead to 10-0. Richardson finished the game with five catches for 70 yards.Four plays later, Franklin stepped in front of a pass from Palmer, returning the interception 28 yards to the UTEP 30-yard line. Using the rush to move the ball down close to the goal line, Walter connected with redshirt freshman tight end Brent Miller for a two-yard pass to the corner of the end zone for Miller's first career touchdown reception. UTEP took over on offense but had only four plays before Franklin again picked off a Palmer pass and this time returned it 48 yards to the end zone to put the Sun Devils on top 24-0 halfway through the second quarter, having scored three touchdowns in just over five minutes.After trading punts, the ASU defense forced another turnover when junior tackle Quency Darley picked a tipped Palmer pass out of the air to give the Sun Devils possession on their own 45-yard line. ASU could not take advantage of the turnover and had a punt blocked by the Miners, who took possession on the ASU 49-yard line. Palmer connected with Higgins on the next play for 37 yards, and Howard Jackson capped the scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown rush to get the Miners on the scoreboard, 24-6 at halftime.ASU opened the second half with a 27-yard drive to the UTEP 31-yard line where Ainsworth drilled a career-long 48-yard field goal to put the Sun Devils up 27-6. In the closing minutes of the third quarter, ASU turned in a 63-yard drive which culminated with a 15-yard TD pass from Walter to junior Derek Hagan to go up 34-6. The reception was Hagan's eighth catch of the night for a total of 119 yards and one touchdown, his fourth straight game with at least 100 receiving yards.Sophomore Sam Keller spelled Walter in the fourth quarter and led the Sun Devil offense on a 93-yard drive. He connected with redshirt freshman Rudy Burgess on a 68-yard post route for a TD, the first TD reception of Burgess' career. Ahead 41-6, the Sun Devils surrendered a field goal to UTEP after holding them four plays inside of the ASU 10-yard line to make the final score 41-9.Walter finished the game with 241 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-37 passing in three quarters of play. Junior linebacker Dale Robinson led the Sun Devils with nine tackles and 2.5 TFL in his ASU debut. Robinson also had one sack for a loss of three yards, while sophomore defensive end Kyle Caldwell also contributed a sack for the Sun Devils.

    Pick Pockets
    Senior safety Emmanuel Franklin turned in two of Arizona State's four interceptions in last week's victory over UTEP. With the two picks, the second and third of his career, Franklin became the first Sun Devil to turn in a pair of interceptions in the game since current St. Louis Ram Jason Shivers had two on Oct. 11, 2003 against Oregon. Franklin returned his second interception against the Miners 48 yards for touchdown, marking the second time that the fifth-year senior, who missed the 2002 season after having brain surgery, has accomplished the feat. In 2001, his redshirt freshman season, Franklin set the school record and tied the Pac-10 mark for the longest interception return with a 100-yarder in that year's season opener again San Diego State.The four interceptions by the Sun Devils against the Miners also marked the first time that the team had picked off four passes in a single game since a 65-24 win over Stanford on Sept. 28, 2002 at Sun Devil Stadium.

    Through the Air
    With his three touchdown passes in ASU's season opener against UTEP, senior Andrew Walter has now turned in 17 multiple touchdown games in his career, including seven in 2003. With 58 career TD passes, Walter is in third place on ASU's career list and needs just seven more scoring strikes to tie current Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer (1993-96) who holds the school record with 65 touchdowns in his illustrious career. Walter has also moved into a tie for 12th on the Pac-10's career touchdown passes list with USC's Rob Johnson (1991-94) and needs just one more to move into the league's top 10.Last year, Walter threw 24 touchdown passes, which tied for third on the Arizona State single-season charts. An honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honoree, he threw a season-high four touchdown passes twice last season, including four in the team's season-opening win over Northern Arizona and four at Stanford in November. He has had six career games with at least four TD passes, while his career high is five TDs in the team's 65-24 win over Stanford in 2002.Walter is on pace to set nearly every Arizona State career passing record this season. He holds the top two marks on the Sun Devil single-season passing charts (3,877 yards in 2002 and 3,044 yards in 2003). With his 241-yard effort on 18-of-37 passing in last week's opener with UTEP, he stands just 1,119 passing yards short of the ASU career passing mark held by Plummer (8,827 yards, 1993-96). Walter also ranks second for both career completions and attempts and should set those marks this year as well.

    Hagan's Hijinks
    Junior wide receiver Derek Hagan led the Sun Devils with eight catches for 119 yards and one touchdown in last week's season-opening victory over UTEP. It marked the fourth straight 100-yard receiving game for Hagan who tallied at least 100 yards in each of the last three games last year (138 yards vs. Stanford, 109 at Washington State and 155 vs. Arizona). He now has seven career 100-yard games and is the first Sun Devil receiver to tally 100 yards in four straight contests since current St. Louis Ram Shaun McDonald accomplished the feat in 2001. Hagan has also caught a touchdown pass in each of the last four games and is riding a streak of 18 straight contests with at least one catch (88 receptions in that span), including all 12 games last season.Hagan has been named a preseason third-team All-American by Athlon in its preseason college football edition. Hagan, who is also listed as a first-team All-Pac-10 selection by the magazine and the 15th-best wide receiver in the nation by Lindy's, led the team in receiving last year with 66 catches for 1,076 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to leading the team, his 1,076-yard performance ranked fifth on the ASU single-season charts and made him just the seventh Sun Devil in school history to tally 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Hagan finished fifth in the Pac-10 and 19th in the country in 2003 with 89.7 receiving yards per game. With 66 catches, he also ranked second in the ASU record books for receptions in a single season.Hagan turned in six 100-yard receiving games in 2003 to lead the squad, including a career outing to lead the Sun Devils past North Carolina on Oct. 18. In that game, he hauled in 11 passes for 185 yards (both career bests) and a touchdown. In addition to being a career high, his 11 catches tied with three other Sun Devils for the fourth-best single-game mark in school history.

    Youth Movement
    A total of 26 players saw the first action of their Sun Devil careers last week in the season opener against UTEP, including five true freshmen, 16 redshirt freshmen, four juniors and one senior. Four of those players made starts in their ASU debuts, including redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Mike Pollak and Brandon Rodd, true freshman h-back Zach Miller and junior linebacker Dale Robinson. In comparison, 20 Sun Devils saw the first action of their careers in the Sun Devils' first two games last season.The five true freshmen to see action in last week's UTEP game included Miller, walk-on cornerback Rodney Cox, wide receiver/cornerback Jeremy Payton, tight end Andrew Pettes and linebacker Antone Saulsberry. Payton saw action on offense and defense against the Miners.Last year a total of seven true freshmen played for the Sun Devils. ASU's current roster features a total of 19 Sun Devils who saw action during their true freshman campaigns, including Jesse Ainsworth, Josh Barrett, Kyle Caldwell, Sam Keller, DeAndre Johnson, Daniel Varvel and Mark Washington in 2003; Mike Davis Jr., Matt Fawley, Derek Hagan, Mike Talbot, Chaz White and Jamar Williams in 2002; and Lamar Baker in 2001.

    Spreading the Wealth
    Ten different receivers caught passes for the Sun Devils in last week's season opener against the Miners with four different players catching touchdown passes (junior Derek Hagan, sophomore Terry Richardson and redshirt freshmen Rudy Burgess and Brent Miller). Senior Andrew Walter connected with six different players, including TD passes to Hagan, Richardson and Miller, while sophomore Sam Keller completed tosses to five Sun Devils, including a career-long 68-yard TD pass to Burgess.Spreading the wealth is nothing new to the Sun Devils who completed passes to 13 different receivers last year and 14 during the 2002 Holiday Bowl campaign. Last season, ASU had a different player lead the team in receiving yards in each of the team's first five games.

    Season Openers
    With the 41-9 win over UTEP, Arizona State improved to 63-27-2 all time (.696) in season openers and 43-15-1 (.737) when opening the season at home. The Sun Devils have now won five of their last six season openers and 16 of their last 19, including a 34-14 victory over Northern Arizona on Sept. 6 of last year. With the victory over the Miners, ASU has also won its last four and eight of its last nine games when opening the season at home.

    Who's Back
    The Sun Devils return 47 letterwinners this season, including 14 starters and two specialists. The seven offensive starters slated to return are QB Andrew Walter, WR Derek Hagan, OL Andrew Carnahan, OL Drew Hodgdon, OL Grayling Love, TE Lee Burghgraef and TB Loren Wade. On defense, the seven returning starters include DE Jimmy Verdon, DE Ishmael Thrower, LB Jamar Williams, LB Justin Burks, CB R.J. Oliver, S Riccardo Stewart and CB Chris McKenzie. Placekicker Jesse Ainsworth and snapper Jason Burke also return for the Sun Devils this season.

    Walter on Three Preseason Watch Lists
    Senior quarterback Andrew Walter has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Davey O'Brien Award, the Walter Camp Football Foundation's Player of the Year Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm 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. 9 at the ESPN College Football Awards Show in Orlando. The winner will be honored at the 28th Annual O'Brien Awards Dinner in February 2005, at the Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas.Walter is one of 40 'players to watch' for the Walter Camp Award, the nation's fourth-oldest individual college football accolade. That watch list will be narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in early November. The 2004 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 then receive his trophy at the Foundation's annual national awards banquet on Feb. 13, 2005 in New Haven, Conn.Walter is also one of the 22 senior quarterbacks who have been selected as candidates for the the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the nation's top senior collegiate quarterback by the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. A committee of football experts from across the country will choose five finalists plus any ties and announce the list on Oct. 20. The 2004 recipient will be announced Dec. 1, with the award presentation to be made in Louisville on Dec. 10 at the Clarion Conference Center.On the verge of breaking just about every ASU career passing record, Walter has been named a preseason third-team All-Pac-10 selection by Athlon Sports and is listed as the eighth- and ninth-best quarterback in the nation by Athlon and the Sporting News, respectively.

    ASU Picked Sixth in Preseason Pac-10 Poll
    Arizona State has been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 in the league's preseason poll of West Coast media members. Defending league and Associated Press national champion USC was picked to finish first, garnering all 24 first-place votes.ASU proved to be something of a challenge for the media members. The Sun Devils were sixth but were just seven points out of fourth place, while media members picked the team anywhere from third to ninth.

    Pac-10 Preseason Media Poll (first-place votes in parentheses)1.   USC (24)           2402.   California         2103.   Oregon             1924.   Oregon State       1385.   Washington State   1336.   Arizona State      1317.   Washington         1008.   UCLA               989.   Stanford           4010.  Arizona            38

    Stewart's Standard
    A 2003 second-team All-Pac-10 honoree, senior safety Riccardo Stewart returns as one of the top safeties in the Pac-10. Stewart was a team co-captain last year and has won the Sun Devil Valor Award in each of the last two seasons, an honor given to a great team player who consistently displays courage on and off the field.Stewart has been named a preseason honorable-mention All-American by Street & Smith's and is listed as the 20th-best safety in the country in the preseason by Lindy's. A four-year starter, Stewart is one of the most experienced Sun Devils with 32 career games and 22 starts to his credit. Last year, he ranked second on the team and seventh in the Pac-10 with 7.6 tackles per game (84 stops) and paced the Sun Devils with three interceptions.

    All-Conference Selections
    Nine Sun Devils earned All-Pac-10 Conference honors last season, including second-teamers Regis Crawford, Grayling Love, Riccardo Stewart and Jason Shivers. Five Sun Devils earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors, including Skyler Fulton who was named to the all-academic first team. Fulton was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII Team, while Grayling Love earned second-team all-district honors.

    All-Pac-10 Second Team: OL Regis Crawford, OL Grayling Love, S Riccardo Stewart, specialist Jason ShiversAll-Pac-10 Honorable Mention: WR Skyler Fulton, WR Derek Hagan, FB Mike Karney, P Tim Parker, QB Andrew WalterPac-10 All-Academic First Team: WR Skyler FultonPac-10 All-Academic Second Team: QB Chad Christensen, SN Jason BurkePac-10 All-Academic Honorable Mention: OT Andrew Carnahan, OT Grayling Love

    Wade on the Run
    With a team-leading 773 rushing yards last season, Loren Wade broke ASU's 48-year-old freshman rushing record, passing Leon Burton's 1955 mark of 694 yards. Wade led the Sun Devils in rushing with 136 carries for 773 yards and five touchdowns in 2003, marking the second consecutive year that a redshirt freshman paced the team in the category (Cornell Canidate in 2002). Wade finished fifth in the Pac-10 at 70.3 yards per game. He turned in four 100-yard rushing games in 2003, including a stretch of three straight (at North Carolina, at UCLA and vs. California) to become the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat since Delvon Flowers in 2001. Wade's career and season highs in 2003 included 130 yards at North Carolina and 22 carries vs. California. He scored one rushing touchdown in five games last year. Wade's average of 5.7 yards per carry tied for first among the Pac-10's rushing leaders and was the most for the Sun Devils' leading rusher since J.R. Redmond averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 1997.

    Osborne Receives Special Teams Honor
    ASU assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Tom Osborne was honored as the 2003 American Football Monthly Magazine's Division I-A Special Teams Coordinator of the Year. AFM, the magazine published for professional and collegiate football coaches, measured several aspects of the game to arrive at the honor. While statistics were a main element to the award, there were also many other factors involved in the selection of Osborne such as player/coach relationship and improvement from the previous year.Under Osborne, ASU has had a punter earn All-Pac-10 honors in each of the last three seasons. In 2002, punter Tim Parker led the league, while he ranked in the nation top 20 in each of the last two years. He has also had a placekicker ranked in the nation's top 10 during his tenure. ASU ranked third in the Pac-10 in kickoff coverage in 2002 and 2003.

    Lighting Up the Scoreboard
    Arizona State has averaged 30.9 points per game in Dirk Koetter's three-plus years at the helm, including 24.5 points per game last year, 32.3 ppg in 2002 and 34.0 ppg in 2001. Last season, the Sun Devils scored a season-high 59 points in a 59-14 win over Oregon on Oct. 11. That effort marked the most points for the team since ASU set its school record for scoring in a Pac-10 game with its 65-24 win over Stanford on Sept. 28, 2002. Since coming to ASU, a Koetter-led team has put 50 or more points on the scoreboard four times (10 times in his career).The Sun Devils have also set the school record for consecutive games without being shut out. ASU has now scored in 103 straight games dating back to the last six games of 1995.

    Protecting the Quarterback
    Arizona State's offensive line finished third in the Pac-10 in sacks allowed in 2003, giving up just 25 sacks on the year. The Sun Devils led the league after allowing only five sacks in the first four games of the season. ASU did not allow a sack in ASU's 59-14 victory over Oregon on Oct. 11 and allowed just one Oct. 18 at North Carolina.The Sun Devils return three starters along the offensive line in 2004 in senior center Drew Hodgdon (26 career starts), junior guard Grayling Love (13) and sophomore tackle Andrew Carnahan (13). In addition, junior tackle Chaz White has now started 11 games in his career. A first-team All-Pac-10 selection by all three preseason publications, Love has been named a preseason honorable-mention All-American by Street & Smith's and is listed as the best run blocker in the Pac-10 by Lindy's.

    Academic Achievements
    ASU's roster features two student-athletes who have already earned their undergraduate degrees in quarterback Andrew Walter (communication) and center Drew Hodgdon (interdisciplinary studies-justice studies and sociology).A total of 27 football student-athletes are currently wearing 'Scholar Baller' patches on the fronts of their jerseys this year for turning in GPA's of 3.0 or higher. This season, Arizona State has become the first Division I school in the country to honor its student-athletes' academic success on their jerseys. This spring, the Sun Devils achieved an all-time best 2.58 semester GPA (for scholarship student-athletes on the team).

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