Football Set to Open 96th Season of Play at Home Saturday

Aug. 28, 2008

 

Aug. 28, 2008

FOOTBALL CENTRAL
  NOTES: Game 1 - Northern Arizona (pdf)
  
Sun Devil Football Gameday Central 
  
2008 ASU Football Rosters 
  
2008 ASU Football Schedule/Results 
  
2007 ASU Football Statistics
  2007 Pac-10 Conference Statistics
  NCAA Football Statistics 
  
2007 ASU Football Media Guide 
  
College Football National Rankings


GAME INFORMATION
Date:
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. MT
Site: Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium (71,706) - Tempe, Ariz.
Television: FSN Arizona
   Play-by-Play: Trey Bender
   Color: Former ASU All-American Juan Roque
   Sideline: Jody Jackson
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 92.3 FM (will not be on 620 AM this week)
   Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
   Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst
   Sideline: Amy Bender


WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK
• Senior Rudy Carpenter is putting his name in the Sun Devil record books, climbing the charts in several significant passing categories
Senior Keegan Herring is the 10th-leading rusher in school history, gaining over 2,000 yards already in his career
• Senior Mike Jones returns from a summer of Minor League Baseball to improve on his 10-touchdown campaign in 2007

• Arizona State has won nine-consecutive season openers at home
• Seven members of the team have already earned their undergraduate degrees
• The Sun Devils were picked to finish second in the Pac-10 in the annual West Coast Media Poll. USC was picked to win the conference the seventh year in a row.


TEMPE Ariz. - Arizona State opens its 96th season of football on Saturday night, coming off a 2007 season that featured a 10-3 record, a share of the Pac-10 Championship and a berth in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Head coach Dennis Erickson had a memorable first season at ASU, earning Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. The Sun Devils open the 2008 season, when they play host to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium. ASU features 38 returners from last season's 10-win team, including seven starters on both offense and defense.

MAROON AND GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY: ASU is celebrating 50 years at Sun Devil Stadium, home stadium of the Arizona State University football team. The Sun Devils have a 242-84-3 record at Sun Devil Stadium, including a 7-1 mark in 2007. In 1996, the playing field was named Frank Kush Field, after the legendary Sun Devil coach. Sun Devil Stadium has played host to 35 Fiesta Bowls, two Insight Bowls and Super Bowl XXX. Over 16 million fans have seen the Sun Devils play at Sun Devil Stadium.

ON THE AIR: The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on their 10-station radio network, including flagship station Sports 620 KTAR AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play) and former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) will call the action. The NAU game can be heard on 92.3 KTAR FM.

LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION: FSN Arizona will televise the Sun Devils match-up with the Lumberjacks. Trey Bender and former ASU All-American Juan Roque will call the action from the booth while Jody Jackson handles the sideline duties.

SEASON OPENERS: Arizona State is 66-27-2 (.705) all-time in season openers and 46-15-1 (.750) when opening the season at home. The Sun Devils have won seven straight season openers at home, including last season’s 45-3 win over San Jose State. ASU has won 11 of its past 12 openers at Sun Devil Stadium and nine straight.

SUN DEVILS VS. LUMBERJACKS: This will be the 27th meeting between the in-state rivals, with Arizona State holding an 18-14-4 edge. ASU is 11-6-2 at home in the series, including a 35-14 win in 2006, the last meeting between the two schools. The schools have only met twice before since 1950.

START ME UP: Returning for his fourth season under center, senior QB Rudy Carpenter has started the second most consecutive games at quarterback in college football. Carpenter has started 31 straight contests and has seen action in 35 career games. In the Pac-10 last year, only two other quarterbacks did not miss a game. But here is the most impressive nugget...when Jake 'the Snake' Plummer started the fi nal 40 games of his career that ended in 1996, ASU began a stretch in 1997 that ended in 2004 (nine seasons) in which eight quarterbacks made at least one start. Rudy took over in the eighth game in 2005 and has started every game since. He has started every game the past two seasons, as only Andrew Walter in 2003 did the same in the past 11 seasons.  He is 21-10 as a starting quarterback, tied for fourth most wins as a starter in school history. Danny White holds the all-time record for wins by a starting quarterback, going 30-3 from 1971 to 1973. Dennis Sproul is second with a 26-11 record from 1974-77. Carpenter is tied with Jeff Van Raaphorst, who went 21-9-1 from 1983 to 1986.

ONE OF THE PAC-10'S FINEST: Rudy Carpenter continues to be one of the top QBs in the Pac-10 Conference. Carpenter is the active Pac-10 leader in passing attempts, completed passes, passing yards, touchdown passes and 300 yard games. Carpenter now has 65 career touchdown passes and has thrown for 7,998 yards in his three seasons at ASU. He currently ranks 20th all time in Pac-10 history for passing yards, trailing Cal's Troy Taylor (1986-89) by 128 yards.

PASSING FANCY: Rudy Carpenter now has 65 touchdown passes in his career. He is only the fourth Sun Devil all-time to throw at least 60 touchdowns, joining Andrew Walter (85), Jake Plummer (65) and Danny White (64). The 65 career TD passes tie him with Sun Devil legend Jake Plummer for 11th most in Pac-10 history.

BUILDING HIS LEGACY: Over his three seasons at Arizona State, Rudy Carpenter has found success achieved by few who wore maroon and gold. Carpenter has started three bowl games (2005 Insight, 2006 Hawai'i and 2007 Holiday), only the second quarterback in school history to accomplish that feat. Danny White is the only other, starting the Fiesta Bowl in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Rudy also joins Jeff Van Raaphorst (1986) and Jake Plummer (1996) as ASU quarterbacks to lead the Sun Devils to a Pac-10 title.

ON THE WATCH LISTS: Entering his final season, Carpenter fi nds himself a candidate for several major awards. He is on the Watch List for the Maxwell Award, presented to the top player in college football, the Davey O'Brien Award, awarded to the best quarterback in the country, the Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year award.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Carpenter continues to climb the ASU charts in every major passing category. Entering the 2008 season, Rudy fi nds himself in the top fi ve in every category, with the top spots within his reach. He is third on ASU's career completions list with 586, 46 shy of Jake Plummer and second place. His 958 attempts are third most, 184 behind Plummer, while his 7,998 yards are 829 behind Plummer for the second spot. Andrew Walter is the leader in all of the categories.

NATIONAL ATTENDANCE: Carpenter isn't just highly ranked in the Pac-10, but in the nation as well. The senior signal caller ranks in the top fi ve among active FBS quarterbacks in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. He is fi fth in yards, 182 yards behind Missouri's Chase Daniel for fourth. He is second in touchdown passes, trailing only Texas Tech's Graham Harrell.

WHO'S BACK: 38 letterwinners return from the 2007 Pac-10 championship squad, including seven starters on both sides of the ball. Rudy Carpenter returns for his fourth season as the signal caller for the Devils. Carpenter will have an experienced and talented receiving corps, led by Mike Jones and Chris McGaha. The two combined for 107 catches, 1,599 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2007. Keegan Herring returns to lead the running attack, and he will be teamed with Dimitri Nance and Shaun DeWitty in the backfi eld. Herring enters 2008 as the 10th leading rusher in school history, gaining 2,234 yards in his career. Dexter Davis will lead a stout defense that finished as the third ranked unit in the Pac-10 last year. Davis has totaled 16.5 sacks in his two seasons in maroon and gold. Travis Goethel and Mike Nixon will anchor the group of linebackers, after the two combined for 129 tackles a season ago. Troy Nolan is the leader of the defensive backfi eld after intercepting six passes in 2007, returning two of them for touchdowns. 2007 Lou Groza Award Winner Thomas Weber returns on special teams, looking to improve on a 2007 campaign that saw him go 24-25 on fi eld goals and handle the punting duties.

HELMETS AND MORTAR BOARDS: Seven members of the 2008 Sun Devil football team have already earned their degrees from Arizona State University. Rudy Carpenter, Mike Jones, Wes Evans, Angelo Fobbs-Valentino, Nate Kimbrough, Troy Nolan and David Smith have all graduated from Arizona State University.

IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: Mike Nixon will be writing a weekly diary for The Sporting News about the 2008 season. He is one of 22 FBS student-athletes who will write the weekly column, and one of only two from the Pac-10. It can be read at today.sportingnews.com.

RUNNING DOWN HIS DREAM: From the moment he set foot on ASU's campus, senior Keegan Herring has had a smile on his face and a hunger for yards. Over his three seasons with the Devils, Herring has been one of the most dependable backs in the Pac-10. He leads all Pac-10 returners with 2,234 career yards, good for 10th most in school history. One of the quickest athletes in the conference and a home run threat on every carry, Herring has scored 17 times and has had at least one carry for over 65 yards in each of his three seasons. Arizona State's leading rusher a season ago, Herring totaled 815 yards on 154 carries, the third straight he has gained over 500 yards.

MOVING ON UP: With his 2,234 career rushing yards, Herring fi nds himself 10th on Arizona State's all-time rushing list. He is 240 yards short of Ben Malone (1971-73) for 9th on the list. Herring also has six career 100-yard games, including three in 2007. His career high for yards in a game is 197 against Northwestern in 2005.

SUMMER CATCH: Senior WR Mike Jones has been a two-sport athlete at ASU for three years, spending his springs with the Sun Devil baseball team. But this summer was different for Jones, who was drafted in the 29th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Jones spent his summer in Tampa, Florida as a member of the Gulf Coast Yankees in the Rookie League. He appeared in 15 games collecting nine hits, including five doubles.

CATCH IT: Arizona State boasts one of the top returning wide receiving corps in the Pac-10. Mike Jones, Chris McGaha and Kyle Williams all return for the Sun Devils, giving Rudy Carpenter and ASU a combined 136 receptions, 1,959 yards and 17 touchdowns call coming back in 2008. McGaha led the 2007 team with 61 catches for 830 yards, while Jones was the scoring leader, fi nding the end zone 10 times. He had 46 receptions for 769 yards to go along with the 10 TDs. Williams caught 29 passes for 360 yards and six scores.

DISRUPTIVE DEXTER: Junior defensive end Dexter Davis enjoyed one of the most sensational freshman seasons by a Sun Devil defender in school history in 2006, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors and honorable mention freshman All-America recognition by The Sporting News. The Phoenix, Ariz., native recorded a team-best and Pac-10 freshman season-high 6.0 quarterback sacks, the third-most by a Sun Devil rookie in school history. He was just as impressive during his sophomore campaign, posting a team-leading 10.5 sacks, third most in the Pac-10. He was a Second Team All-Pac-10 selection after recording 33 total tackles, including 13.5 for loss. He also forced three fumbles and recovered another. Davis has started all 26 games in his Sun Devil career, totaling 73 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. Davis is on the preseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award.

TOM THE TOE: Sophomore kicker Thomas Weber returns in 2008,hoping to duplicate one of the greatest seasons by a kicker in Arizona State history. The winner of the 2007 Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation’s top placekicker, a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press and a First-Team All-Pac-10 honoree, Weber was sensationally consistent during his freshman season, connecting on 24-of-25 fi eld goals (96.0 pct.), with a long of 53 yards. A threetime Pac-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week in 2007, Weber set numerous Sun Devil records in only his fi rst college season, including a record streak of 17 made fi eld goal attempts to begin the year (also a nation-leading streak for the season) and a nation-high accuracy rating. The Downey, Calif., product ranked fi rst in the Pac- 10, fifth in the nation and tied the Sun Devil single-season record for points by kicking (118) set by Mike Barth as a senior in 2002, while also placing sixth in the country with 1.85 made field goals per game. A sharpshooter off the kicking tee and in the classroom, Weber added First-Team Pac-10 All-Academic honors to his list of accomplishments as a rookie in 2007. In addition to his near-perfect kicking reputation, Weber took on the added challenge of taking over punting duties midway through the season and averaged 39.3 yards on 47 punts for the year.

HOME SWEET HOME: For the second straight season, Arizona State will begin the year by playing their fi rst four games at Sun Devil Stadium. Last season, ASU went 7-1 at home, winning their fi rst six. They are the only team in the Pac-10 to open with four straight at home, and one of only five teams in the nation to play their fi rst four games on their home field. Duke, Louisville, Indiana and Nebraska are the others. Nebraska opens the season with five straight home games.

WATCH LISTS: Several Sun Devils are on preseason watch lists for national awards. Senior Safety Troy Nolan, who led the team team with six interceptions a year ago, is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, the Nagurski Trophy, the Thorpe Award and the Lott Trophy. Seniors Rudy Carpenter and Keegan Herring are both on the Maxwell Award watch list, while junior Dexter Davis joins Nolan on the Nagurski Trophy watch list. Davis is also on the Lombardi Award list and the Hendricks Award list. Carpenter is also on the Davey O'Brien Watch List, given to the nation's top QB and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award Watch List. Junior linebacker Gerald Munns is on the Butkus Award Watch List. 2007 Lou Groza Award winner Thomas Weber is on the watch list for the 2008 award.

PRESEASON HONORS: Kicker Thomas Weber has found his name on a number of preseason All-American teams. Weber is a First Team selection by The Sporting News, Athlon Sports and Playboy, while Phil Steele has him on the Third Team.

TEAM CAPTAINS: Senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter and senior safety Troy Nolan were named team captains after a vote by the team. Head coach Dennis Erickson will designate two additional game captains on a weekly basis.

IN THE POLLS: Arizona State opens the 2008 season ranked #15 in the AP Poll and #16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. This marks the highest preseason ranking for the Sun Devils since 1998, when they were ranked #8 in the first polls. ASU finished the 2007 ranked #13 in the USA Today Coaches poll and #16 in the final Associated Press Poll.

BUBBLE TIME: The 2008 season also marks the grand opening of the new Indoor Practice Facility, located adjacent to the Kajikawa Practice Fields. The 'Devil Dome' is a bubble made of space age fabric that is 103,500 square feet and measures 65 feet high. The air conditioned structure features a 75-yard fi eld and a 45-yard fi eld, goal posts, clocks and state of the art FieldTurf. The football team will split their practice time between the new bubble and the outdoor fields.

FOUR YEAR QBs: Senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter is one of only six four-year starters at the quarterback position in the Bowl Subdivision. Curtis Painter of Purdue, Mike Teel of Rutgers, Willie Tuitama of Arizona, Pat White of West Virginia, Drew Weatherford of Florida State and Drew Willy of Buffalo are the others.

NEXT UP: The Sun Devils will open their Pac-10 schedule by hosting the Stanford Cardinal on September 6. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. with FSN Arizona providing television coverage.

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