Sun Devils Return Home to Face Washington State Saturday
Nov. 6, 2006
Game Week Notes: vs. Washington State (pdf)
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Date: Saturday, November 11, 2006
Kickoff: 7:00 pm MT
Site: Sun Devil Stadium (71,706) - Tempe, Ariz.
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
Play-by-Play: Ivan Lara
Color: Former Sun Devil All-American OL Juan Roque
This week's game marks only the third time in eight games that ASU will be playing at home. Including this week's game, the Sun Devils close out the 2006 season with two of their final three games at Sun Devil Stadium.
Junior All-America TE Zach Miller (1,328 career receiving yards) needs 25 yards to pass former Sun Devil tight end Joe Petty (1970-72) for third on ASU's all-time list for most receiving yards by a tight end.
ASU's defense is allowing an average of only 8.7 points in the second half of games this season, including an aggregate total of only 16 points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 134.3 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
The Sun Devil defense has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season.
Currently with 24 sacks, the Sun Devil defense has already surpassed its sack total from last season (22).
Junior TB Ryan Torain currently ranks No. 5 in the Pac-10 in rushing, averaging 85.4 yards per game. Torain has scored eight touchdowns for the Sun Devils in 2006 (five rushing and three receiving).
Sophomore TB Keegan Herring has had ASU's two longest runs of the season in the last two games (both touchdowns): 65 yards at Washington (Oct. 28) and 40 yards at Oregon State (Nov. 4).
Senior PK Jesse Ainsworth (274 career points) needs four points to pass former Sun Devil Mike Barth (1999-02) for second on ASU's all-time list for most points.
As a part of 'Champions Weekend' festivities, ASU's 1986 and 1996 Pac-10 Champion squads will be honored at halftime of this Saturday's game vs. Washington State. The 1986 team finished with a record of 10-1-1 and defeated Michigan 22-15 in the 1987 Rose Bowl. The 1996 team finished with a record of 11-1 and came up just short of a national championship after losing in the final minutes to Ohio State 20-17 in the 1997 Rose Bowl.
LAST GAME (Oregon State 44, ASU 10)
A week after having just enough to beat Washington on the road in overtime, Arizona State saw its two-game winning streak come to an end as the Sun Devils fell to Oregon State 44-10.
More injuries to key offensive personnel and a big-play Beaver passing attack proved to be too much for the Sun Devils to overcome in the rainy conditions at Reser Stadium. The Beavers scored 31 of the game's first 38 points, including the first 17 of the game to take command early. Oregon State QB Matt Moore threw for 199 of his 282 passing yards in the first half as the Beavers scored on their first five possessions - four touchdowns and one field goal - of the game.
After a pair of solid performances in its last two outings, the Sun Devil offense was never able to get in sync. The injury-plagued unit came into the game already having lost two starting offensive linemen for the season and for this game was without the services of three other players who had either starting or significant experience at wide receiver. QB Rudy Carpenter, who had come into the game without throwing an interception in ASU's last three games, had a pair of interceptions in the first half. As the game progressed Carpenter's offensive arsenal continued to be pared down as two of ASU's top three statistical contributors at wide receiver - Nate Kimbrough and Mike Jones - were forced to leave the game with injuries. Joining them was leading rusher Ryan Torain.
ASU would get as close as 10 points in the first three minutes of the second quarter after sophomore TB Keegan Herring raced 40 yards for a touchdown on a third and 21 to make the score 17-7.
After eventually falling behind 31-7, the Sun Devils would make a pair of forays inside the Oregon State 20-yard line on consecutive drives at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter. Both drives would end in 32-yard field goal attempts by senior PK Jesse Ainsworth, one of which he made and the other he missed wide left. After Ainsworth's miss the Sun Devils would run only three more plays on Oregon State's side of the field the rest of the game.
ASU TO HONOR '86 & '96 PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS
Scheduled in conjunction with this weekend's game against Washington State, ASU will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1987 Rose Bowl team and the 10th anniversary of the 1997 Rose Bowl team.
Former Sun Devil head football coaches John Cooper (1986) and Bruce Snyder (1996) 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.
ASU-OREGON STATE POST-GAME NOTES
Junior All-America TE Zach Miller led ASU with four receptions for 57 yards. Miller now needs 25 yards to pass former Sun Devil tight end Joe Petty (1970-72) for third on ASU's all-time list for most receiving yards by a tight end.
The field goal ASU gave up to the Beavers in the third quarter brings the season total of opponent points in the third quarter to 16. Including the 13 points Oregon State scored in the third and fourth quarters, ASU's defense is giving up an average of only 8.7 points in the second half of games this season.
Sophomore TB Keegan Herring's 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter tied him with junior TB Ryan Torain for the second-longest run of the season by ASU. The week before at Washington, Herring had the longest ASU run of the season when he reeled off a 65-yard touchdown run against the Huskies. Herring's six scoring runs this season have averaged 25.5 yards. Five of his six touchdowns have come in ASU's last three contests.
Senior PK Jesse Ainsworth's PAT and 32-yard field goal vs. Oregon State brought him within four points of passing former Sun Devil Mike Barth (1999-02) for second on ASU's all-time list for most career points. Ainsworth's successful PAT vs. Oregon State extended his school record of consecutive PATs to 127 (going back to the 2003 season).
ASU-WASHINGTON STATE SERIES NOTES
The Sun Devils are 18-12-2 in the all-time series with the Washington State and have defeated the Cougars in each of the last two meetings, most recently a 27-24 win last season in Pullman.
In last season's win the Sun Devils rolled up 548 yards in total offense. In the first road start of his career, Rudy Carpenter completed 28-of-43 passes for 381 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Carpenter also had one interception which came in the first quarter. It would be the last interception he would throw until the opening game of the 2006 season as he would go on to establish a new Sun Devil standard for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception (149).
ASU's 45-28 win against Washington State at home in 2004 ended a three-game losing skid against the Cougars.
ASU is 11-5-2 against Washington State at home.
DEVILS DEFENSE SHOWS IMPROVEMENT
Despite no shortage of effort and having the Pac-10 co-Defensive Player of the Year (Dale Robinson), the ASU defense endured a tough season in 2005, finishing the season ranked 114th in total defense and 86th in scoring defense.
Through nine games in 2006, the unit has shown improvement under second-year defensive coordinator Bill Miller, who twice in his coaching career has been nominated for the Frank Broyles Award, which is given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
Below are some of the highlights from ASU's defense through the season's first nine games:
Allowing 123.1 fewer yards per game in total offense compared to last season.
Recorded 24 sacks, two more than ASU had the entire 2005 season.
ASU's 24 sacks have come from 15 different players.
Returned three interceptions for touchdowns (junior CB Chris Baloney vs. NAU, freshman S Ryan McFoy vs. Nevada, senior CB Keno Walter-White at USC).
Held Washington (Oct. 28) to only 148 yards passing, its lowest output of the season and 59.5 yards below its season average coming into the game.
Allowed Stanford (Oct. 21) to gain only 145 yards in total offense, marking the second-best defensive showing under Dirk Koetter. The best showing came against Iowa in Tempe on September 20, 2004, when the Sun Devils limited the Hawkeyes to 100 total yards.
Stanford's three points for the game represented the second time this season that a team scored no more than three points in a game (Colorado also scored three points on Sept. 16). It marked the first time that ASU held multiple opponents to three or fewer points in the same season since 1993 when three ASU opponents scored three or fewer points.
Held USC (Oct. 14) to its lowest totals of the season in both net yards passing (148 yards) and total offense (307 yards). USC came into the game averaging 249.6 yards per game in the former and 413.4 yards per game in the latter. The 307 yards in total offense were the fewest for the Trojans since Oct. 9, 2004 when they had only 205 yards in total offense in a 23-17 win vs. Cal. USC's 148 passing yards were its fewest since it threw for 87 yards in the 2000 season opener vs. Penn State (Aug. 27, 2000).
Allowed Colorado (Sept. 16) to gain only 219 yards in total offense, the (then) fifth-best defensive effort by ASU under Koetter. The Colorado offense failed to score a touchdown marking the first time the ASU defense did not allow 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.
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.
Is allowing an average of only 8.7 points in the second half of games this season, including an aggregate total of only 16 points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 134.3 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
BARRETT NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sun Devil S Josh Barrett was named the U.S. Bank Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in ASU's 26-23 overtime victory at Washington on October 28.
A junior from Reno, Nev., Barrett had numerous contributions for a Sun Devil defense which held Washington to its fewest passing yards of the season (148 yards). Barrett had a game-high nine tackles, including five solos, and intercepted two passes, returning them 40 yards.
For the season Barrett currently leads the team in combined tackles (52) and is tied for the team lead in solo tackles with 35. Barrett's two interceptions and fives passes defensed are also currently tied for first on the team.
CARPENTER GETS THE CALL
Sophomore Rudy Carpenter is in the midst of his first full season as ASU's starting quarterback 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.
Currently 9-5 as a starter, Carpenter passed for 333 yards and a career-best five touchdown passes (to five different receivers) in ASU's 52-21 win over Nevada (Sept. 9). In ASU's win at Washington (Oct. 28), Carpenter completed 16-of-22 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 25-yard scoring strike to TE Brent Miller in overtime.
Last month against Stanford (Oct. 21), Carpenter nearly tied the school single-game record for consecutive completions (13). He completed his first 12 passes, but missed on his 13th. He would go on to finish the game 14-15 for 160 yards and one touchdown. Carpenter's .933 percent completion percentage vs. Stanford set the school single-game record for highest completion percentage (10-15 attempts).
MILLER AMONG NATION'S ELITE TIGHT ENDS
Three quarters through the 2006 season, junior All-America TE Zach Miller has continued to prove why he is regarded as one of the top players in the country at his position. Miller currently leads the Sun Devils in receptions (31) and receiving yards (300) and is tied for first on the team in touchdown receptions (3).
After two and a half 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 (13, first), receptions (125, first) and receiving yards (1,328, fourth).
Miller's 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 touchdown receptions by a tight end (13) and most receptions (125) by an tight end, Miller needs 358 yards to become the school's career leader for receiving yards by a tight end.
COVERING A LOT OF TORAIN
Junior college transfer TB Ryan Torain has proven to be one of the best additions to the Sun Devils offense in 2006. After demonstrating his ability to be a steady contributor in the season's first three games, Torain had a breakout performance at California (Sept. 23), when he rushed for a career-best 191 yards (Sept 23). Many of Torain's yards against the Golden Bears were earned after initial contact with Cal's defenders as he broke numerous tackles throughout the game. One week later against the Oregon Ducks (Sept. 30), Torain led the Sun Devils with 113 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Through nine games, Torain, who was forced to leave last week's game at Oregon State due to injury, leads the Sun Devils in rushing with 769 yards and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 averaging 85.4 yards per game. He has eight carries of 15 yards or more, including a season-best 40-yard run vs. Nevada (Sept. 9).
In addition to his ability to run with the football, Torain has also displayed a talent for receiving, too. He is currently second on the team with 16 receptions for 177 yards and three scores. Torain currently leads the team in touchdowns with eight.
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. Through nine games this season the Sun Devils are No. 3 in the Pac-10 averaging 164.4 yards rushing per game. To put that number in perspective, if the Sun Devils were to keep up that pace, it would be the first time since 2001 that they averaged more than 150 yards on the ground.
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. 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.
At Colorado (Sept. 16), 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.
At California (Sept. 23), the Sun Devils had their best ever rushing performance on the road under Koetter as they gained 237 yards, including a career-best 191 yards from Torain. One week later ASU ran for 142 yards against Oregon (Sept. 30). Torain once again paced the backfield with 113 yards on 19 carries.
ASU continued its road rushing success at Washington (Oct. 28) as the Sun Devils ran for 190 yards in a hard-fought 26-23 overtime victory. Torain (23 carries) and Herring (six carries) each rushed for 98 yards to lead the Sun Devils. Herring's 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter at Washington is the longest offensive play for the Sun Devils this season. Last week at Oregon State, Herring tied the second-longest ASU run of the season with a 40-yard touchdown scamper.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS FOR T-RICH
During his Sun Devil career, senior WR/KR/PR Terry Richardson has proven to be one of ASU's biggest threats for a big play any time he touches the football, particularly when he is bringing back punts and kickoffs.
Earlier this season versus Oregon (Sept. 30) Richardson tied a school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown which represented the first kickoff return for a touchdown by an ASU player in Sun Devil Stadium since 1986. It was his third touchdown on a return the last two seasons after scoring on a pair of punt returns in 2005. Prior to be sidelined with an injury that has caused him to miss the last three games, Richardson was ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 4 in the country in kickoff returns (33.56 yard average). He was also ranked No. 4 in the Pac-10 in punt returns, averaging 11.22 yards per return.
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. His 84-yard punt return for a TD in the first quarter against the Trojans (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 of 2005 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.
JUST FOR KICKS
In his three-plus seasons Jesse Ainsworth has made it a habit of being nearly perfect on PAT attempts, missing just three times in 150 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 127 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 42 field goals are third-most in a Sun Devil career and he needs eight more to move into second place. He also is just the sixth kicker in school annals to score 200 or more points as his 274 points are four points behind Mike Barth (1999-2002) for second on the list.
ESPN2 & ESPNU TO SHOWCASE 1997 ROSE BOWL
ASU's epic showdown with The Ohio State University in the 1997 Rose Bowl has been selected by ESPN2 and ESPNU to be a part of its new original series ESPNU Honor Roll: College Football's Top 10. The series will be hosted by ESPN's Rece Davis from the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., and will count down college football categories, such as Honor Roll: Greatest Quarterbacks and Honor Roll: Greatest Rivalries.
The Jan. 1, 1997 matchup pitting the No. 2, Pacific-10 Conference Champion Sun Devils against the No. 4 Buckeyes will be showcased among the Honor Roll: College Football's Greatest Bowl Games edition of the series, to air Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Each episode of the series will rank the top picks from 10 to one, and each of the Top 10 lists were determined through a combination of fan votes and ESPN college football experts' opinions.
The Sun Devils close out the home portion of the 2006 season when they host the UCLA Bruins on Sat., Nov. 18 at Sun Devil Stadium. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 8:15 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports Net.