Sun Devils Dominate Aztecs, Win 38-7
Sept 8, 2001
TEMPE, Ariz. - Ask, and ye shall receive. Every Arizona State fan that asked for a little offense in the Sun Devils' season opener received it--and much of it.
Under new ASU Head Coach Dirk Koetter, the Devils stormed the field in excitement Saturday night and did not let up until they had pounded San Diego State, 38-7. ASU (1-0) defeated the Aztecs (0-2) for the second year in a row.
'I'm relieved. I'm very pleased with the win,' Coach Koetter said following his first victory at ASU. Koetter, who picked up his eighth straight victory as a Div. I head coach (currently ranked third) dating back to his days at Boise State, is known for testing defenses with the vertical attack. Tonight, it worked.
'We like to go downtown a lot,' Koetter said. 'I thought sometimes on deep balls, Jeff (Krohn) held it too long, but I loved his competitiveness. I love the way he ran the team, and you can't argue with his numbers.'
Speaking of numbers, ASU quarterback Jeff Krohn threw for an impressive 271 yards on 27 of 35 attempts, including four touchdowns and no interceptions. He had the Aztec secondary picking its shoes up off the turf after ASU wide outs Donnie O'Neal and company left them in the smoke.
Krohn guided the Devils quickly down the field, completing an amazing 10 first downs in the first quarter alone. Tailbacks Delvon Flowers and Tom Pace offered ASU a solid running game that led to a score midway through the first quarter when Krohn hooked up with ASU back Mike Karney from seven yards out.
Krohn then completed a string of 11 consecutive completions to help set up Mike Barth's 38-yard field goal early in the second period, giving ASU a 10-0 lead.
San Diego State was hampered by costly penalties all throughout the first half, and the Devils responded by cashing in. With two minutes remaining in the half, O'Neal burned the Aztec secondary en route to a 42-yard score from Krohn.
The Devils entered the locker room up 17-0 at the half, pleased with what had been accomplished after finally getting a chance to put their efforts into a game situation.
'Our goal was to play fast. We went out there and we were hungry,' said ASU rush end Terrell Suggs, who forced a fumble that set up the ASU drive and score right before the half.
The Devils' defense showed its prowess as the second half got underway, keeping San Diego State scoreless nearly the rest of the game. After forcing the Aztecs into a fourth-and-nine situation following an Alfred Williams sack of quarterback Lon Sheriff, San Diego State decided to go for it midway through the third quarter. But Suggs bounded in to sack Sheriff again for a loss of downs, putting the ball back in the hands of ASU.
The Devils jumped on the opportunity with good field position, and Krohn found receiver Shaun McDonald for a five-yard score to give ASU a 24-0 lead. After a quiet rest of the third and early fourth periods, Krohn connected with O'Neal again for his fourth passing touchdown, finding him open for a 17-yard strike.
'We took what they gave us, for the most part,' O'Neal said. 'I really feel that we've got one of the best receiving crews in the Pac-10. Talent and depth--we've got some big playmakers.'
One playmaker who lit up Sun Devil Stadium with a roar from the crowd was ASU redshirt freshman cornerback Emmanuel Franklin, whose 100-yard interception return for a touchdown halfway through the fourth period sent a dagger straight to the heart of San Diego State's hopes for a comeback. Franklin read a pass play perfectly within the red zone and picked the ball right at the goal line as he sprinted, surrounded by maroon and gold, to the north end zone.
The Aztecs finally got on the board late in the game on a Garric Simmons' 10-yard rush to break the shutout. However, everyone present was ecstatic to see Coach Koetter's boys excited about a new era of football.
'We just wanted that first win off Coach's shoulders,' Suggs said with a smile after the game.
One down, 10 to go. But even Coach Koetter, whose offensive wisdom is respected by many, realizes that a long season ahead will require constant improvement.
'Wins are hard to come by, but we're going to have to play a lot better to go where we want to go this year,' Koetter said.