No. 16 Sun Devil Football Hosts Utah State on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium
Sept. 8, 2003
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Coming off a 34-14 victory over Northern Arizona in last week's season opener, the 16th-ranked Sun Devils continue their non-conference homestand with the Utah State Aggies (0-2) on Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night Saturday at 7 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium. After last weekend's win, ASU climbed to 16th in each of this week's national polls, which matches the team's highest ranking of last year (16th in AP poll on Oct. 27). The Sun Devils will be looking for their fifth straight win in the series over Utah State, while a win would also give the team its first 2-0 start to the season since opening the 2000 campaign with three wins. Utah State heads to Tempe with an 0-2 record after a 31-7 loss at then No. 23 Nebraska last weekend. Following Saturday night's game with Utah State, the Sun Devils head to Iowa City to take on the 2002 Big Ten Co-Champion Iowa Hawkeyes Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. CST/3 p.m. Arizona Time on ESPN2. No. 23/19 Iowa has opened the season with a 2-0 mark including last week's 56-7 win over Buffalo.
In the Series
Arizona State holds a 9-3 advantage in the series with Utah State including an 8-2 edge in games played at home. The Sun Devils have won the last four games in the series and 10 of the last 11, including a 44-20 victory at Sun Devil Stadium on Sept. 23, 2000 in the last meeting between the two teams. The series with the Aggies dates back to 1948 with Utah State winning that first meeting 22-17 in Logan, Utah. ASU holds a 10-3 record against teams from the Sun Belt Conference (USU is in its first year as a member of the Sun Belt after 25 years in the Big West Conference). ASU head coach Dirk Koetter holds a 3-0 record against Utah State, defeating the Aggies in each of his three years as the head coach at Boise State. In those three meetings, Koetter's Broncos downed the Aggies by an average of 43.0 points per game including a 66-38 victory in 2000 en route to Boise State's second consecutive Big West title.
The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on its 11-station network including flagship stations KTAR 620 AM and ESPN Radio 860 AM in Phoenix. Tim Healey (play-by-play), Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst), Vince Marotta and Paul Calvisi (pregame, halftime 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 ASU's official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com. There is no television for the Utah State game.
Last Time Out
Led by junior quarterback Andrew Walter who threw four touchdown passes, the No. 20/21 Sun Devils scored 27 unanswered points to come from behind and open the season with a 34-14 victory over the Division I-AA Lumberjacks.
After forcing the Sun Devils into a three-and-out to begin the game, NAU drove down the field and scored a quick touchdown on a drive highlighted by a 54-yard reception from NAU quarterback Jason Murietta to receiver Clarence Moore. ASU countered with a 43-yard drive of its own to score on an eight-yard pass from Walter to redshirt freshman Loren Wade.
ASU turned the momentum on the first play out in the second quarter. Junior cornerback R.J. Oliver intercepted a pass in the end zone and ran it 100 yards back, tying a school record and giving ASU a 13-7 lead. The Sun Devils cruised from there as Walter found the end zone two more times before the half, including a 40-yard TD pass to sophomore Derek Hagan to give ASU the 27-7 halftime advantage.
NAU turned in the only score in the third quarter, recovering an ASU fumble two minutes in. Murietta found wide receiver Chris Nash in the end zone to cap a 61-yard drive and score NAU's final points of the game. ASU stormed back and advanced 84 yards down field to score its fifth touchdown on a 38-yard pass from Walter to sophomore Moey Mutz. Mutz led the Sun Devil receivers with three catches for a career-best 75 yards and two touchdowns.
The Sun Devils shut down the NAU offense the rest of the way and rolled to the victory in front of a crowd of 60,069 at Sun Devil Stadium. Walter completed 15 of 24 passes for 224 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. It marked the fifth time in his career that the junior signal-caller has thrown at least four TD passes in a game. Junior safety Riccardo Stewart led the defense with a career-high 11 tackles, while starting linebackers Justin Burks and Jamar Williams each turned in seven tackles. Williams also notched a career-best three tackles for loss in the Sun Devil victory.
In the Rankings
The Sun Devils climbed four spots to 16th in this week's Associated Press poll and five spots to 16th in this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. The team's No. 16 ranking in each poll matches the highest rank of last season when the Sun Devils climbed to 16th in the Oct. 27 AP poll before falling out two weeks later. It is also the highest national ranking for the Sun Devils since the 1997 Sun Bowl Championship squad finished at 14th in each of the final national polls. ASU was ranked 22nd in this year's preseason AP poll and 23rd in the preseason coaches poll, marking the first time that the team has been ranked in the preseason since 1999 (25th-AP).
With its 34-14 victory over Northern Arizona last weekend, Arizona State improved to 62-27-2 all time in season openers (.692) and 42-15-1 (.733) in season openers at home. The Sun Devils have won four of their last five season openers and 14 of their last 18 despite last year's 48-10 season-opening loss to then No. 10/8 Nebraska on Aug. 24, 2002 in Lincoln, Neb. ASU has won its last three and seven of its last eight season-openers at home including a 31-13 victory over Texas Tech in 1999, a 38-7 victory over San Diego State in 2001 and a 34-14 win over NAU in 2003.
Junior cornerback R.J. Oliver tied a school and Pac-10 record when he returned an interception 100 yards for touchdown last week against Northern Arizona. Oliver tied the ASU mark for the longest interception return set by teammate Emmanuel Franklin who had a 100-yard interception return in the 2001 season-opener against San Diego State. Oliver became the 10th player in Pac-10 history to return an interception 100 yards for touchdown. It marked the team-leading seventh career interception for Oliver, who led the Pac-10 in passes defended last year and is on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Coincidentally, Franklin made his first appearance on the field for the Sun Devils in over a year on Saturday night after missing the 2002 season following brain surgery. Franklin suffered a subdural hemotoma following a concussion during 2002 spring workouts and missed the 2002 season after undergoing surgery to relieve the bleeding on his brain.
A total of 18 Sun Devils saw the first action of their Arizona State careers last weekend against Northern Arizona including five true freshmen, nine redshirt freshmen and four juniors. The five true freshmen to see action last week included quarterback Sam Keller, kicker Jesse Ainsworth, safeties Josh Barrett and Daniel Varvel and linebacker Mark Washington. ASU's current roster now features 15 players who saw action as true freshmen: Mike Davis Jr., Matt Fawley, Derek Hagan, Nick Johnson, Ali Likio, Mike Talbot, Chaz White and Jamar Williams in 2002; Lamar Baker, Barton Hammit, Daryl Lightfoot and Jason Shivers in 2001; and Mike Karney, Mike Williams and Skyler Fulton in 2000.
Spreading the Wealth
The Sun Devils completed passes to eight different receivers in last week's 34-14 season-opening victory over Northern Arizona. Junior quarterback Andrew Walter found seven of those eight receivers and completed four touchdown passes to three different Sun Devils. Sophomore Moey Mutz, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, led the Sun Devil receivers with three catches for 75 yards and two TDs. Senior Skyler Fulton had five catches for 52 yards, while sophomore Derek Hagan had three catches for 55 yards and his first career TD.
Scoring Through the Air
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter threw four touchdown passes last week against Northern Arizona, marking the fifth time in his career that he has had at least four TD passes in a game. His career high in a single game is five in last year's 65-24 victory over Stanford. Walter has now thrown 35 career TD passes and needs just one more to move onto the Pac-10's top 42 for career touchdown passes. He also needs nine more to move into ASU's career top six in the category.
Parker Pulling Double Duty
Senior Tim Parker served as ASU's punter and placekicker in last week's game vs. Northern Arizona. Parker became the first Sun Devil to handle both duties since Stephen Baker was the placekicker and backup punter in 1998 and 1999. Parker booted five punts for an average of 45.4 yards per punt with one touchback and two punts downed inside the 20. He also connected on 4-of-5 extra-point attempts. A preseason candidate for the Ray Guy Award and preseason third-team All-American, Parker ranks second in the Pac-10 and ninth in the nation in punting at 45.4 yards per punt.
Putting the Special in Special Teams
Sophomore Josh Golden had four punt returns for 78 yards last week vs. NAU which was the most for a Sun Devil since Justin Taplin had four punt returns for 84 yards vs. Oregon State in 2001. Golden's 42-yarder in the second quarter was also the longest since Taplin had a 62-yard punt return in that 2001 game. Golden leads the Pac-10 and ranks 13th in the nation in punt returns, averaging 18.8 yards per return. Saturday marked Golden's first action as a punt returner after he returned 11 kickoffs for 238 yards (21.6 yards per return) last season.
Junior safety Riccardo Stewart led the team with 11 tackles last week against Northern Arizona, marking the fifth time in his career that he has led the team in the category. That tied his career high of 11 set last year against North Carolina, while his eight solo tackles vs. NAU bested his previous career high of six in 2001 vs. Stanford.
The Sun Devils also got a strong defensive showing from its starting linebacking duo of sophomore Jamar Williams and junior Justin Burks. Williams and Burks each turned in seven tackles, while Williams led the team with three tackles for loss and had a sack for a loss of nine yards. Williams made just his second career start in the game, while Burks made his Sun Devil debut after transferring to ASU as a junior college All-American from Cerritos Community College in Norwalk, Calif.
Next week, the Sun Devils will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, to take the No. 23/19 Hawkeyes, while the 2002 Big Ten Co-Champion Hawkeyes will return the game on Sept. 18, 2004 in Tempe. This year's game will mark ASU's first effort against a team from the Big Ten since downing the Hawkeyes 17-7 in the 1997 Sun Bowl in El Paso. It will also be the first time that ASU has played in a Big Ten venue since defeating Illinois 21-7 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Sept. 12, 1987.
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter opened the 2003 season with a solid performance, completing 15-of-24 passes for 224 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in last week's victory over Northern Arizona. Walter threw four TD passes to three different receivers vs. the Lumberjacks, marking the fifth time in his career that the national awards candidate has had at least four scoring strikes in a game.
This season, Walter ranks second in the nation and in the Pac-10 in scoring efficiency at 195.90. He is also fourth in the league in passing yards per game (224.0) and total offense (221.0). With the win, Walter improved to 6-7 as ASU's starter and now has completed 327 passes for 4,647 yards and 35 touchdowns in his career.
Last year, Walter turned in one of the finest seasons in school history, setting almost every school record for passing yards and total offense. Walter shattered the school record for passing yards in a single season, throwing for 3,877 yards to become the first passer in school history to top 3,000 yards and surpass the previous school record of 2,878 by Danny White in 1973. Despite not earning his first start until the fifth game of the year, Walter, who finished third in the Pac-10 and 19th in the nation in passing efficiency at 137.10, turned in the third-best single-season performance in Pac-10 history and became the first quarterback in Pac-10 history to turn in four 400-yard passing games in a season. No Pac-10 quarterback had ever thrown for more than three in a season and Washington's Cody Pickett and Walter are the only two to ever have four in a career. Walter completed 274 of 483 pass attempts, breaking ASU's single-season marks for attempts and completions - records previously held by Jake Plummer with 348 attempts in 1996 and Todd Hons with 199 completions in 1983 - while Walter's 28 touchdown passes marked the second-best effort in school history behind Mike Pagel who threw 29 TD passes in 1981.
With a 536-yard passing performance to upend No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, Walter set Pac-10 and Arizona State school records for single-game passing yards, surpassing the previous mark of 534 yards by fellow Sun Devil Paul Justin vs. Washington State in 1989. He was named the Oct. 20 Sporting News, cnnsi.com and USA Today.com National Player of the Week in addition to earning his first career Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honor.
Walter also shattered the majority of ASU's total offense records, setting the marks for total yards (3,661 yards) and yards per game (261.5 ypg). He also tied Danny White (1973) with four games with at least 300 yards of total offense and turned in the third-best season in Pac-10 history. He finished third in the league and 18th in the nation in total offense.
ASU Single-Game Touchdown Passes1. 7 Mike Pagel, vs. Stanford, 19812. 6 Danny White, vs. New Mexico, 19713. 5 Andrew Walter, vs. Stanford, 2002 5 Jeff Krohn, vs. Oregon, 20005. 4 23 times (four times by Walter, last vs. NAU, 2003)
ASU Single-Game Passing Yards1. 536 Andrew Walter at Oregon, 2002 (** Pac-10 record)2. 534 Paul Justin vs. Washington State, 19893. 532 Jeff Van Raaphorst vs. Florida State,19844. 511 Ryan Kealy vs. Arizona, 19985. 477 Andrew Walter vs. California, 20026. 474 Andrew Walter vs. North Carolina, 2002 474 Paul Justin vs. Houston, 1990
ASU Single-Season Passing Yards1. 3,877 Andrew Walter, 20022. 2,878 Danny White, 19733. 2,776 Jake Plummer, 19964. 2,591 Paul Justin, 19895. 2,484 Mike Pagel, 19816. 2,394 Todd Hons, 1983
Pac-10 Single-Season Passing Yards1. 4,458 C. Pickett, UW, 20022. 3,942 C. Palmer, USC, 20023. 3,877 A. Walter, ASU, 20024. 3,637 R. Leaf, WSU, 19975. 3,627 S. Stenstrom, Stan., 19936. 3,499 P. Barnes, Cal, 19967. 3,307 A. Smith, Oregon, 1998
ASU Single-Season TD Passes1. 29 Mike Pagel, 19812. 28 Andrew Walter, 20023. 24 Jake Plummer, 1996 24 Danny White, 19735. 23 Danny White, 19726. 20 John Torok, 19647. 19 Three players tied
ASU Single-Season Attempts1. 483 Andrew Walter, 20022. 348 Jake Plummer, 19963. 337 Jeff Van Raaphorst, 19854. 336 Todd Hons, 19825. 334 Mike Pagel, 19806. 324 Todd Hons, 1983
ASU Single-Season Completions1. 274 Andrew Walter, 20022. 199 Todd Hons, 19833. 198 Jake Plummer, 19964. 188 Jeff Van Raaphorst, 19855. 185 Todd Hons, 19826. 184 Mike Pagel, 1980
ASU Single-Season Total Offense1. 3,661 Andrew Walter, 20022. 3,107 Danny White, 19733. 2,834 Jake Plummer, 19964. 2,511 Mike Pagel, 19815. 2,460 Paul Justin, 19896. 2,443 Danny White, 1972
Pac-10 Single-Season Total Offense1. 3,877 Andrew Walter, 20021. 4,273 Cody Pickett, UW, 20022. 3,820 Carson Palmer, USC, 20023. 3,661 Andrew Walter, 20024. 3,583 Ryan Leaf, WSU, 19975. 3,490 Akili Smith, Oregon, 1998
|Walter's Career Statistics|
|Walter's 2003 Game-By-Game Statistics|
Walter on Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp Preseason Watch Lists
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Davey O'Brien Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year 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. 11 at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando. Walter is one of 42 players on the watch list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, which is presented by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in early November. The 2003 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 receive his trophy at the Foundation's annual national awards banquet on Feb. 14, 2004 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven, Conn. Walter has also been named a second-team All-Pac-10 selection by both Athlon Sports and The Sporting News and is listed as the eighth-best quarterback in the nation by The Sporting News.
Oliver, Shivers on Watch List for Jim Thorpe Award
Juniors R.J. Oliver and Jason Shivers are on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top defensive back. Oliver is coming off a season that saw him lead the Pac-10 in passes defended with 22 (4 interceptions, 18 PBU's) on his way to earning honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors. Shivers has led the Sun Devils in tackles both of his seasons in Tempe. A 2002 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honoree, Shivers tallied 121 tackles in 2002, which tied for the most in the Pac-10. The Thorpe Award watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists on Nov. 3 and then to three finalists on Nov. 24. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at ESPN's College Football Awards Show. The official presentation of the award will be in Oklahoma City on Feb. 9.
Parker on Watch List for Ray Guy Award
Senior punter Tim Parker is one of 32 players on the preseason watch list for the 2003 Ray Guy Award which is annually presented to the top collegiate punter by the Greater Augusta Sports Council. Parker returns for his senior year after leading the Pac-10 Conference in punting and earning second-team All-Pac-10 honors last season. He averaged 42.7 yards per punt to pace the league and rank 16th in the nation. He turned in 3,372 punting yards which puts him second all time at ASU for punting yards in a season. This year, Parker is listed as the eighth-best punter in the country by The Sporting News and was picked as a third-team preseason All-American by Street & Smith's. The Ray Guy Award watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in early November. The national voting body will then vote for the three finalists who will be announced in late November. The winner will be announced on Dec. 11 at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando.
Sun Devils Picked Second in Pac-10 Media Poll
Arizona State was picked to finish second in the Pac-10, just three points behind first-place USC, in the league's preseason poll of West Coast media members. The Trojans garnered 10 of 25 first-place votes, with the Sun Devils getting nine. It marks the highest preseason pick for the Sun Devils since 1998 when the team picked to finish second behind UCLA.
Pac-10 Preseason Media Poll (first-place votes in parentheses)
1. USC (10) 2272. Arizona State (9) 2243. Washington (4) 1984. Oregon State (2) 1725. Oregon 1396. UCLA 1387. Washington State 1078. California 689. Stanford 5710. Arizona 46
The Sun Devils return 37 letterwinners including 16 starters and one specialist in punter Tim Parker, a preseason third-team Street and Smith's All-American who led the Pac-10 in punting last year. The nine returning offensive starters are QB Andrew Walter, WR Daryl Lightfoot, LT Regis Crawford, LG Tim Fa'aita, C Tony Aguilar, RG Drew Hodgdon, RT Chaz White, TB Mike Williams and FB Mike Karney. On defense, the seven returning starters include DE Jimmy Verdon, DT Brian Montesanto, DT Shane Jones, CB R.J. Oliver, S Matt Fawley, FS Jason Shivers and CB Brett Hudson. S Riccardo Stewart also returns after starting nine games before missing the last four with a shoulder injury. (note - positions listed are last year's positions - some player positions have changed).
Lighting Up the Scoreboard
In his two-plus seasons at the helm, head coach Dirk Koetter's offense has turned in an average of 33.1 points per game including last week's 34-14 win over NAU. Last year, the Sun Devils averaged 32.3 points per game, which ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation. ASU's 45 points in its 45-42 upset at sixth-ranked Oregon on Oct. 19 were the most points in a Pac-10 road game for the team since defeating Arizona 56-14 in Tucson on Nov. 23, 1996, ASU's last regular-season game in that Rose Bowl campaign. The team set a school record for scoring in a Pac-10 game Sept. 28 with its 65-24 win over Stanford, besting the previous mark of 62 points, which also came against Stanford in a 1981 game (62-36 win). The 65 points ASU scored vs. the Cardinal were the most since the team tallied 66 against UTEP on Oct. 22, 1977. It also marked the fifth time that a Dirk Koetter-coached team has topped the 60-point mark (twice at ASU). In 2001, the Sun Devils averaged 34.0 points per game, which tied for third in the Pac-10 with conference champion Oregon and 19th in the nation. The total marked the most for the team since 1996 when the Pac-10 champion and Rose Bowl-bound Sun Devils averaged 40.7 points per contest.
The Sun Devils forced a Pac-10 Conference-leading 40 turnovers last season, including 22 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles. In 2001, the team forced just 18 turnovers all season. Last year, the Sun Devils had a season-high seven turnovers Sept. 28 vs. Stanford (four interceptions, three fumbles) and four Oct. 12 vs. Oregon State (three interceptions, one fumble).
Thirteen Sun Devils combined for ASU's Pac-10-leading 22 interceptions last year led by R.J. Oliver and Brett Hudson who each picked off four passes to finish tied for sixth in the Pac-10. Oliver also paced the Pac-10 with a total of 22 passes defended. Their four interceptions mark the most for a Sun Devil since Nijrell Eason had five in 2000, while the team's 22 picks were the most for an ASU squad since the 1991 Sun Devils had nine players pick off 23 passes. The Sun Devils snagged four interceptions in the team's Sept. 28 win over Stanford, the most in a single game since ASU had five in a 1998 win over California.
NFL Draft Note
With defensive tackle Terrell Suggs being taken by the Baltimore Ravens as the 10th pick of the 2003 NFL Draft, it marked the fourth straight season and 21st time overall that a Sun Devil has been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. In fact, Arizona Stateis just one of three schools in the country to have a player taken in the first round in each of the last four NFL Drafts (Miami and Florida are the other two). Suggs had a sack in his NFL debut in the Ravens' 34-15 loss to Pittsburgh.
Linebacker Ron Pritchard to Be Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame
Former ASU linebacker Ron Pritchard (1966-68) will be one of 11 players and two coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this fall. Pritchard, who will be honored in an on-campus salute Nov. 11 at ASU's game vs. Oregon, becomes the fourth ASU player and sixth Sun Devil to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Legendary head coaches Dan Devine and Frank Kush were inducted in 1985 and 1996, respectively, while quarterback Danny White was inducted in 1997, defensive back Mike Haynes was inducted in 2001 and John Jefferson was inducted last year.
Arguably the greatest linebacker in the history of the ASU football program, Pritchard was Arizona State's first consensus All-American and led the Sun Devils to a pair of eight-win seasons.
A first-team All-American in 1968, Pritchard was elected team captain, voted Most Valuable Defensive Player by his peers and led the Sun Devils in tackles and interceptions that year. A three-time first-team All-Western Athletic Conference pick, he was selected to the 20-Year WAC All-Star Football Team. Following his senior season, he played in the East-West Shrine Game, the Coaches All-American Game, the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
After his legendary collegiate career, Pritchard was selected 15th overall in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. His professional career ended prematurely after nine years with the Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals due to a knee injury. After his pro football career, he went into sales and eventually ran his own business, Interstate Battery Systems.
Pritchard continues to give back to his community and particularly the game of football. For many years, Pritchard has sponsored and funded a scholarship at his former high school, which goes to aid a scholar-athlete in furthering his or her education. Pritchard also helps raise funds for the United Food Bank in Arizona.
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