Sun Devils and Golden Bears Meet in Pac-10 Opener for Both Teams

Sept. 18, 2006

FOOTBALL CENTRAL 


GAME INFORMATION
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2006
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. PT
Site: California Memorial Stadium (67,537), Berkeley, Calif.
Television: Fox Sports Net
Play-by-Play/Color: Barry Tompkins/Petros Papadakis
Sideline Reporter: Jim Watson
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 620 AM & KMVP/ESPN Radio 860
Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst


WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
• A win this week would give the Sun Devils their second 4-0 start in the last three seasons. In 2004 ASU won its first five games and went on to a 9-3 record.
• ASU's 20-8 record in its last 28 games is third-best in the Pac-10. Only USC (27-1) and California (21-7) have better records.
• ASU's defense currently leads the nation in sacks with 18 and is second with 32 tackles for loss. With four more sacks the Sun Devils will tie their sack total from the entire 2005 season (22).
• ASU's defense has allowed seven points in the second half this season, including zero points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 98.3 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
• Overall, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents 49-7 in the second half.
• The Sun Devil defense has yet to allow a rushing TD in 2006.
• Opposing offenses have scored only three times (2 TDs, 1 FG) on eight trips inside Arizona State's red zone.
• The nation's leader in pass efficiency in 2005 and currently No. 10 in 2006, sophomore Rudy Carpenter is 7-1 as ASU's starting quarterback (last five games of 2005 and three games in 2006). Carpenter has thrown for 300 or more yards in five of his eight career starts, including a career-best 467 yards in ASU's 45-40 win over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl last December.
• Junior All-America TE Zach Miller (108 career receptions) needs eight receptions to pass former Sun Devil All-America and current Baltimore Ravens TE Todd Heap (115 receptions) for the most career receptions by a Sun Devil tight end.
• ASU junior TB Ryan Torain (5.3) and sophomore TB Keegan Herring (6.3) are both averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry.
• Senior PK Jesse Ainsworth (136 career PATs) needs two PATs to pass former Sun Devil Luis Zendejas (1981-84) for first on ASU's all-time list.
• The Sun Devils are currently first in the Pac-10 in net punting (39.5 yards) and No. 2 in punt returns (14.0 yards).


TEMPE, Ariz. - The No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0) go on the road for the second time in as many weeks when they travel to Berkeley, Calif., to take on the California Golden Bears (2-1) in what will be the Pac-10 opener for both squads. ASU comes into this week's game looking for its second 4-0 start under head coach Dirk Koetter, which would equal the number of 4-0 starts in the 25 seasons prior to Koetter's arrival at ASU (1982 and 1996). The Golden Bears will be playing their third straight game at home this week after posting victories over Minnesota (42-17) and Portland State (42-16) in their last two outings. They opened their season with a 35-18 loss at Tennessee.

LAST WEEK (ASU 21, Colorado 3)
  Led by a stifling defensive effort (219 yards in total offense and only three points allowed) and a solid ground attack which produced 182 yards, Arizona State moved to 3-0 with a 21-3 victory over Colorado in the first ever meeting between the two schools.
  ASU's defense dominated, limiting the Buffaloes to only 86 yards passing and 13 first downs (three in the first half) while forcing three turnovers and sacking Colorado QB Bernard Jackson five times. For the second time in three games the Sun Devils did not allow a score in the second half.
  Sophomore TB Keegan Herring (82 yards) and junior TB Ryan Torain (80 yards) combined for 162 of ASU's 182 rushing yards while sophomore QB Rudy Carpenter moved to 7-1 as ASU's starter after throwing for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
  The Buffaloes took an early 3-0 lead after a 29-yard filed goal by kicker Mason Crosby. Crosby's field goal was set up by an ASU fumble, which was recovered by Colorado at the ASU 17 on the Sun Devils' third play from scrimmage.
  ASU's offense appeared to find its rhythm on its second possession, driving from its own 20 all the way inside Colorado's five-yard line. On third and goal from the Colorado two-yard line, Carpenter fumbled the ball as he was trying to beat Colorado's defense to the end zone. The fumble went out of bounds and resulted in a touchback for the Buffaloes.
  ASU's third possession would result in points after it went 71 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead touchdown, an eight-yard run by Torain, which gave ASU a 7-3 lead. Forty-one of the drive's 71 yards came via ASU's ground game.
  ASU would extend its lead to 14-3 after Carpenter found redshirt freshman Chris McGaha for an 18-yard touchdown, the first touchdown reception of McGaha's Sun Devil career. McGaha's catch capped a 40-yard scoring drive, which was set up by a 48-yard punt return by senior Terry Richardson.
  Both teams would have scoring opportunities foiled over the next two quarters, the most notable of which came in the second quarter when Colorado drove to ASU's three-yard line. On third and goal, senior S Zach Catanese forced the ball from Jackson as he was trying to cross the goal line. Junior S Josh Barrett scooped up the fumble and returned it five yards, denying the Buffaloes points.
  ASU's offense polished off the win late in the fourth quarter when Carpenter connected with junior TE Zach Miller for a five-yard touchdown. The touchdown gave Miller sole possession of the ASU record for most touchdown receptions (12) by a TE.

HEAD COACH Dirk Koetter SAID ...
  'Anytime you can win 21-3 against a Big XII team on the road and know you did not play your best I think you have to be real happy with that ... Our defense put [Colorado's offense] in some bad situations. The defense dominated the game and gave up only three points. A lot of good hitting and a lot of drive-stopping plays ... We have to finish drives better on offense and we can dissect that all we want, but all that matters is that we are 3-0 ...Our running game would have been even better, but we kept getting penalties that took us out [of the running game] and put us in long yardage [situations]. Penalties really hurt our offense and turnovers did as well, but luckily our defense came through ... What a great turnout by ASU fans in Colorado. Those fans were loud. I am so proud of our fans and let's keep it up for California.'

ASU-COLORADO POST-GAME NOTES
• With their win over Colorado, the Sun Devils are now 5-2 in their last seven games away from Sun Devil Stadium.
• The Sun Devils rushed for 182 yards against Colorado, the 10th-best rushing performance under head coach Dirk Koetter and the second-best rushing performance on the road under Koetter.
• Colorado's 219 yards in total offense was the fifth-best defensive effort by ASU in Koetter's five-plus seasons at ASU while the Buffaloes' 86 yards passing was the third-best defensive passing effort under Koetter.
• The Colorado offense failed to score a touchdown marking the first time the ASU defense did not allowed a touchdown since a 44-7 win at home against Iowa on Sept. 18, 2004. Iowa's only touchdown in that game came on a punt return.
• ASU's defense has allowed only seven points in the second half this season, including zero points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 98.3 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
• Koetter coached in the 100th game of his career. His career record is now 62-38 (.620), including a 36-28 (.563) mark at ASU.
• Sophomore QB Rudy Carpenter threw for 248 yards, moving past the 3,000-yard mark for his career.
• Sophomore TB Keegan Herring had 82 yards rushing and went over 1,000 yards for his career.
• Senior DT Jordan Hill's interception in the third quarter was the first of his career.
• RS-Freshman WR Chris McGaha's eighteen-yard scoring reception from Carpenter in the second quarter was the first touchdown of his career.
• Junior TE Zach Miller's five-yard scoring reception in the fourth quarter was the 12th of his career, giving him sole possession of the record for most touchdown receptions by a TE in ASU history.

ASU-CALIFORNIA SERIES NOTES
• Arizona State holds a 13-12 advantage in the series with California. Cal holds a 6-4 advantage in games played in Berkeley.
• The Golden Bears have won four of the last five meetings, including the last three, most recently in 2004 when they defeated ASU 27-0 in Berkeley.
• ASU's last win against Cal came in 2000 when it defeated the Golden Bears 30-10 in Tempe.

DEVILS BRING THE `D'
 If the performance of Arizona State's defense in its first three games of the season is any indication of how it will perform, the 2006 season could be a special one for ASU. The Sun Devils have already started nine different players who had two or fewer starts at ASU prior to this season, including seven players who were making the first start of their Sun Devil careers. Below are some of the highlights from the unit's first three games of the season.
• Recorded 18 sacks, only four fewer sacks than it had (22) the entire 2005 season (12 games).
• ASU's 18 sacks lead the nation while their 32 tackles for loss are second in the nation.
• Currently tied for No. 8 in the country with five interceptions.
• Returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the first two games (junior CB Chris Baloney vs. NAU and freshman S Ryan McFoy vs. Nevada).
• Allowed just 53 net rushing yards to NAU, ASU's best effort since holding Stanford to 37 yards on Nov. 6, 2004. It also marked the seventh-best defensive rushing effort under Koetter.
• Has allowed only seven points in the second half this season, including zero points in the third quarter. In addition, opposing offenses are averaging only 98.3 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
• In his first start as a Sun Devil vs. NAU, senior LB Derron Ware had four tackles for loss, including four sacks. The four sacks have him tied for No. 6 in the nation.
• In his first game as a Sun Devil vs. NAU, junior CB Chris Baloney had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. Baloney added another interception against Nevada (Sept. 9) giving him two this season which currently has him No. 2 in the Pac-10.
• In the second start of his career vs. Nevada, true freshman S Ryan McFoy collected a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, a 15-yard quarterback sack, a pass breakup and five tackles.
• Opposing offenses have scored only three times (2 TDs, 1 FG) on eight trips inside Arizona State's red zone.
• The Colorado offense failed to score a touchdown marking the first time the ASU defense has not allowed a touchdown since a 44-7 win at home against Iowa on Sept. 18, 2004. Iowa's only touchdown in that game came on a punt return.
• Colorado's 219 yards in total offense was the fifth-best defensive effort by ASU in Koetter's five-plus seasons at ASU while the Buffaloes' 86 yards passing was the third-best defensive passing effort under Koetter.
• ASU has yet to allow a rushing TD.

CARPENTER GETS THE CALL
  Record-setting sophomore Rudy Carpenter will continue to guide the Sun Devil offense in 2006 after being forced into duty midway through last season.
  Despite not starting until the eighth game of the 2005 season, Carpenter finished the year ranked first in the nation with a school record 175.01 passer efficiency rating while also ranking third nationally in completion percentage (68.4). He also threw for a team-high and school freshman record 2,273 yards to go along with 17 touchdown passes. In addition, he achieved a nation-leading and team record-low interception percentage (.008), after throwing two interceptions out of 228 total passing attempts. He capped-off his phenomenal rookie campaign by earning Offensive Player of the Game honors for his role in ASU's victory against Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl. In that game, Carpenter accounted for ASU individual bowl game records of 467 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
  This season Carpenter has continued to play brilliant in leading the Sun Devils to victories in their first three contests. Last week Carpenter moved his record as a starter to 7-1 after throwing for 248 yards and two touchdowns in ASU's 21-3 win over Colorado. One week earlier, he passed for 333 yards and a career-best five touchdown passes (to five different receivers) in ASU's 52-21 win over Nevada. His yardage total vs. the Wolf Pack is the second-highest single-game total of any quarterback in the Pac-10 this season (Dennis Dixon, Oregon, 341 yards).
  Carpenter enters this week's play ranked No. 10 in the country in pass efficiency (169.46) and No. 9 in the country in total offense (292.3 yards per game).
  Did you know? In his eight starts, Carpenter has led ASU to a score on its opening drive of the game five times (4 TDs, 1 FG). In the first half of his eight starts, Carpenter has a passer efficiency rating of 173.72 (93-of-146 for 1,473 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs).

MILLER AMONG NATION'S ELITE TIGHT ENDS
  As if he didn't already figure prominently in ASU's offense, junior All-America TE Zach Miller figures to have an even bigger role, particularly early in the season, in 2006 as ASU looks to replace key receiving threats from last season. Lost to graduation were the all-time leading receiver in Pac-10 history (Derek Hagan); ASU's best deep-threat (Matt Miller) and one of its most reliable third-down options (Moey Mutz).
  After a little more than two seasons Miller, who was named to the 2006 John Mackey Award Watch List, is at or near the top of the career standards for ASU tight ends in touchdown receptions (12, first), receptions (108, second) and receiving yards (1,173, fourth). His 98 catches in 2004-05 were more than any other tight end in the nation the last two seasons while his receiving yardage and touchdown totals were also the second-most in the nation at his position during that same duration.
According to his head coach, it is not only his ability as a receiver that makes him such a special player.
  'In my opinion, Zach Miller is one of the best blocking tight ends in the nation,' Koetter said. 'He gets a ton of credit for his acrobatic catches, but when you watch cut-ups you see what a tremendous blocker he is.'
  After his freshman season, Miller earned second-team All-America honors, just one of four freshmen to earn first team or second-team All-American accolades that season. Miller also earned first-team Freshman All-American accolades for his successful 2004 season. In 2004, he was named the Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, becoming just the second Sun Devil to earn the honor (Terrell Suggs, 2000).
  As a freshman, Miller broke the ASU record for receptions in a season by a tight end with 56. His 56 receptions in 2004 tied for the most receptions in the NCAA by a tight end. Along with his 56 receptions, he tallied 552 receiving yards and six touchdowns. In 2005, Miller missed some time with an injury and still managed the team's third-highest amount of receptions with 38, four of which were touchdowns. He also recorded 476 receiving yards for an average of 12.5 yards per reception. Already the school record holder for most touchdowns by a tight end (12), Miller needs eight receptions and 513 receiving yards to become the school's career leader for a tight end in each of the aforementioned categories.

NO SHORTAGE OF EXPERIENCE
  One thing Rudy Carpenter can rest assured of this season is that he is being protected by one of the most experienced and reliable offensive lines in the country. Midway through last season such a statement might have been hard for anyone to fathom. In 2005, no position on the ASU roster was more depleted by injuries than the offensive line. Last season, nine Sun Devils started along the offensive line. However under offensive line coach Brent Myers, veteran leaders and qualified reserves emerged, enabling ASU to rank second in the nation in total offense, and also rush for 145.7 yards per game.
  Members of ASU's returning line have combined for 86 starts, the fifth-most experienced starting line in the nation entering the 2006 season. Last week at Colorado the line enabled the Sun Devils to roll up more than 400 yards in total offense for the third time in as many games. Carpenter was sacked only once, the fifth consecutive game that ASU's line allowed only one sack going back to last season.

BACK ATTACK
  When a team ranks third in the country in passing offense (as ASU did last year) it would not be hard to understand why its running game, no matter how solid, might be overlooked. Last season the Sun Devils averaged 145.7 yards per game, their highest average since head coach Dirk Koetter's first year at ASU in 2001.
  As successful as last season was on the ground, the Sun Devils' running game has the potential for even bigger things in 2006. ASU has no shortage of talent in its backfield, which includes sophomore Keegan Herring, who led the team in rushing last season with 870 yards; sophomore Shaun DeWitty, a 6-2, 215-pound back who had a solid spring for ASU; junior college transfer Ryan Torain, who rushed for more than 800 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore at Butler (Kan.) CC despite missing four games with an injury; and freshman Dimitri Nance, who ran up career totals of 3,173 yards and 41 touchdowns during his high school career.
  The aforementioned quartet of running backs combined for 142 yards rushing (5.1 per-carry average) in ASU's season-opening victory over Northern Arizona (Aug. 31). Nance led the way with 61 yards and one score. In addition to being able to run the football, Torain (3 rec, 58 yards, 1 TD) and DeWitty (2 rec, 34 yards, 1 TD) also showed they could catch the ball out of the backfield as the two combined for five receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. All together, ASU's running backs rolled up 234 yards (rushing and receiving) on 33 `touches' (7.1 yards per touch) against NAU.
  The following week against Nevada (Sept. 9), Torain led ASU's rushing attack with 70 yards on only eight carries (8.8-yard average). Torain's night included a 15-yard TD run in addition to a 40-yard scamper, the longest rush by an ASU player in 2006. In addition to Torain's success, DeWitty tallied a touchdown reception for the second consecutive week, this one a 22-yard strike from QB Rudy Carpenter.
  Last week came the backfield's most impressive outing to date as the Sun Devils rushed for 182 yards, the 10th-best rushing performance under Koetter and the second-best on the road. Herring (82 yards) and Torain (80 yards) combined for 162 of ASU's yards against the Buffaloes, who came into the game No. 6 in the NCAA in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (32.5) and No. 4 in the country in per-carry average (0.9). ASU averaged 4.0 yards per carry at Colorado.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS FOR T-RICH
  Senior WR/KR/PR Terry Richardson, who earned Second Team All-America honors last season from SI.com, was named the US Bank Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in last season's game against USC and he was ranked as one of the top returners in the nation last season.
  His 84-yard punt return for a TD in the first quarter against USC (10/1) marked the first by a Sun Devil since current St. Louis Ram Shaun McDonald had a 78-yarder against USC on Nov. 4, 2000. It was the 10th-longest punt return in school history (9th-longest for a TD) and the longest by a Sun Devil since Eric Guliford had an 89-yarder against California in 1992.
  In the last regular season game Richardson would deliver again with a momentum-turning return of 71 yards against Arizona for a touchdown that tied the game in the fourth quarter. It made him the sixth Sun Devil overall and first since Ron Washington (1977) to return a pair of kicks for touchdowns in a season.
  Richardson ended last season No. 2 in the Pac-10 and No. 7 in the nation with an average of 15.3 yards per punt return while also sitting third in the Pac-10 and No. 15 in the nation with an average of 27.4 yards on kickoff returns. Both his punt (337 yards) and kick return (629) yardage totals for the season were good enough to make into the top five of the school's all-time single-season annals. On offense, Richardson finished fourth on the team with 37 catches for 495 yards (13.4 avg.) and five touchdowns.
  Thus far in 2006, Richardson in No. 13 in the nation and No. 2 in the Pac-10, averaging 14.0 yards per return. Last week Richardson had a season-best 48-yard punt return at Colorado.

JUST FOR KICKS
  In his three-plus years Jesse Ainsworth has made it a habit of being nearly perfect on PAT attempts, missing just three times in 136 tries. [Dating back to the final game of the 2003 season when he connected on 4-of-4 PATs to start his current streak of 112 in a row, a school record.]
  Ainsworth, who was a perfect 53-of-53 last season after going 40-of-40 in 2004, moved past former program record holder Luis Zendejas, who netted 75 from 1981-83. Ainsworth tied Zendejas' mark when he connected on a try following ASU's first touchdown against Oregon last season, a 20-yard touchdown reception by Derek Hagan in the first quarter. In the third stanza, Ainsworth hit home the record-breaking 76th PAT in a row. Ainsworth's 53 PATs last season put him fourth in ASU's record books for the most PATs made in a single season.
  Ainsworth's 38 field goals are fourth-most in a Sun Devil career and he needs one more to move into a tie for third. He also is just the sixth kicker in school annals to score 200 or more points as his 247 points are 31 points behind Mike Barth (1999-2002) for second on the list.

JOHNSON EMERGES AS LATEST STAR ON ASU'S SPECIAL TEAMS
  In the always important battle for field position the Sun Devils have proven to have a leg up on the competition in 2006. Through three games, the play of junior P Jonathan Johnson has enabled the Sun Devils to rank No. 13 in the country and first in the Pac-10 in net punting (39.5 yards). Only half of Johnson's eight punts have been returned thus far. In addition, five of Johnson's eight punts have fallen inside the 20-yard line.

PRESEASON RANKINGS
  Arizona State's inclusion in the 2006 preseason Associated Press poll (24th) marks just the second time it has been ranked in the preseason poll in back-to-back years in 24 seasons (1983 to present). It was ranked 20th in the poll last year. In 1998, ASU was ranked eighth in the preseason poll and was 25th prior to the 1999 season.

ASU PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN PRESEASON PAC-10 POLL
  ASU was picked to finish fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference in a pre-season poll of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. Defending Pac-10 champion USC earned 18 first-place votes and was picked to win its fourth straight Pac-10 title. The Sun Devils will travel to Los Angeles to face the Trojans on October 14th at Memorial Coliseum.
  Four teams received first place votes this season after USC was the unanimous choice last year. The Trojans garnered 18 votes, while Cal was second with seven. Oregon received three votes and the Sun Devils also earned a first place vote.
  The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 23 of 45 previous polls, including the last six years in a row.

ASU To HONOR `86 & `96 ROSE BOWL TEAMS
  Scheduled in conjunction with ASU's football game against Washington State University at Sun Devil Stadium on November 11, ASU will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1986 Rose Bowl team and the 10th anniversary of the 1996 Rose Bowl team.
Former Sun Devil head football coaches John Cooper (1986) and Bruce Snyder (1996) have been contacted and have committed to attend the weekend's festivities.
  The 1986 Sun Devils captured the Pac-10 title and culminated their season with a 22-15 victory over Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl. It was the first Rose Bowl appearance in ASU history. The team would finish its season with a 10-1-1 record.
  The 1996 Sun Devils had an undefeated regular season before falling to Ohio State in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Highlights of the year included shutting out top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Nebraska 19-0 on Sept. 21, 1996 and overcoming a three-touchdown deficit to beat UCLA on the road.

UP NEXT
  The Sun Devils return home to face the University of Oregon on Sat., Sept. 30 at 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised by ABC.

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