2004 Arizona State Football Outlook

April 21, 2004

Coming off a 5-7 finish, the Sun Devils look to return to their 2002 form and prove that last year was merely a slip up, not the measuring stick for a program that has the potential to meet its high standards.

'It was very disappointing, and it's something that, at this point, you've got to learn from and move on,' said ASU head coach Dirk Koetter, who enters his fourth year at the helm. 'It doesn't do us any good to dwell on it. You dwell on the things that you learn, and on the things you've got to change, and the things you're going to do differently.'

Back for his senior season, durable quarterback Andrew Walter and explosive wide receiver Derek Hagan spotlight the offense, while the defense is anchored by senior safety Riccardo Stewart and linebackers Justin Burks (senior) and Jamar Williams (junior).

The Sun Devils feature formation changes on both sides of the ball. Gone are the fullbacks, and in are the H-back and a new double-tight end set in the base look. On defense, there will be three linebackers, including the new 'Devil' backer, and two high safeties.

'We have a team that is skilled enough, and we have a team that is fast enough,' Koetter said. 'The question is are we tough enough, and are we competitive enough?'

Only time will tell.

The Offense

Quarterback

Andrew Walter 6-5 235 Sr. Grand Junction, Colo. (Grand Junction)
Sam Keller 6-4 228 So. Danville, Calif. (San Ramon Valley)
Mike Affleck 6-3 253 RS-Fr. Provo, Utah (Timpview)
Chad Christensen 6-3 208 Jr. Scottsdale, Ariz. (Desert Mountain)
Newcomers
Rudy Carpenter 6-3 190 Fr. Westlake, Calif. (Westlake)
Max Hall 6-1 180 Fr. Mesa, Ariz. (Mountain View)

The Sun Devils are again deep behind center with heralded senior Andrew Walter leading a cast of talented quarterbacks that includes sophomore Sam Keller, redshirt freshman Mike Affleck and junior Chad Christensen.

Entering his senior season 15 pounds heavier, Walter has a chance to become the most prolific passer in school history. He needs 11 touchdowns and 1,361 yards passing to eclipse Jake Plummer's career marks.

That shouldn't be too big of a hurdle for Walter to overcome, given the fact that he threw for 7,467 yards and 55 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Walter threw for less yardage and fewer touchdowns last year than he did as a sophomore but was more accurate with five fewer interceptions and earned honorable-mention All-Pac-10 laurels.

Walter is the only player in school history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a single season. He has accomplished that feat twice, thanks to a sophomore campaign in which he totaled 3,044 yards passing and 24 touchdowns.

'The NFL told Andrew that he could have been drafted as high as the second round,' Koetter said. 'For Andrew to come back, not only does he want to improve what happened with the team, but he wants to get better.'

Behind Walter is Keller, who appeared in six games last year as a true freshman. He completed 53.5 percent of his passes and threw for 247 yards and one touchdown.

Most of Keller's reps came at the end of games with the exception of the UCLA game when he got some playing time after Walter went down with an ankle injury early in the second quarter. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 79 yards.

Affleck, who redshirted last season, and Christensen are expected to battle Keller for the backup position. Affleck will have shoulder surgery on his non-throwing arm following spring drills.

True freshmen Rudy Carpenter and Max Hall are two highly touted newcomers. Carpenter has, perhaps, better scrambling skills than any of ASU's quarterbacks, bringing another dimension to the position. Hall is expected to leave for a mission after he turns 19 in October.

Running Back

Loren Wade 6-0 212 So. Gardena, Calif. (Serra)
Randy Hill 6-2 208 So. Tempe, Ariz. (McClintock)
Hakim Hill 6-0 219 Jr. Iowa City, Iowa (City)
Cornell Canidate 5-9 198 Jr. Phoenix, Ariz. (Alhambra)
Preston Jones 5-8 181 RS-Fr. East Lansing, Mich. (East Lansing)
Newcomer
Price Wilks 6-0 185 Fr. Hacienda Heights, Calif. (Wilson)

ASU has plenty of depth at running back as sophomores Loren Wade and Randy Hill and juniors Hakim Hill and Cornell Canidate all return. Heading into the fall, Wade has secured the starting spot.

Koetter said he wants to have one primary back who would receive about 18 to 20 carries per game and another secondary back who would get about 10 touches, although all four tailbacks will be involved in the offense.

Wade led the bunch last year, amassing 773 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He averaged 70.3 yards rushing per game and 5.7 yards per carry on a team that ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in rushing offense and was named to the Sporting News Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.

Hakim Hill was second on the team in rushing with 452 yards and three touchdowns, and Randy Hill rushed for 228 yards and one score. Canidate rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns but missed spring drills with an injury.


ASU has plenty of depth at running back including sophomore Loren Wade.


'For us to get better as a team, all of those guys have to be more consistent,' Koetter said. 'Those guys all have to learn to be more consistent and to be better finishers, but I like our talent a lot.'

H-Back/Tight End

Lee Burghgraef 6-5 249 Jr. Corona, Calif. (Norco)
Jamaal Lewis 6-4 246 So. Colorado Springs, Colo. (Rampart)
Kellen Mills 6-3 233 RS-Fr. Mesa, Ariz. (Mountain View)
Brent Miller 6-5 240 RS-Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista)
Tyrice Thompson 6-4 203 RS-Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. (South Mountain)
Aaron Austin 6-5 253 Sr. Dos Palos, Calif. (Fresno CC)
Trent Ryberg 6-1 230 Jr. Scottsdale, Ariz. (Horizon)
Newcomers
Zach Miller 6-4 245 Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista)
Andrew Pettes 6-4 230 Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. (Moon Valley)

ASU's new H-back position and a double-tight end set will present a multitude of looks to opposing defenses this fall. The tight end and the H-back are separate positions but are interchangeable by assignment.

Junior Lee Burghgraef is the returning starter at tight end. He caught six passes for 62 yards last year, and he proved to be one of the team's best run-blockers.

Sophomore Jamaal Lewis caught 10 passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns last year as a tight end but will line up this fall as an H-back.

Redshirt freshmen Kellen Mills, Brent Miller and Tyrice Thompson are also in the mix. Mills, a walk-on from Mountain View High School in Mesa, looked impressive last year on the scout team as a fullback. Miller played quarterback, tight end, safety and linebacker at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix and missed last season with a knee injury. Thompson made the move from wide receiver this spring, and coaches were pleased with his attitude and work ethic.

Senior Aaron Austin also returns but could move to defensive end where he took half of his snaps during spring ball.

Newcomers Zach Miller and Andrew Pettes, both Phoenix products, will also compete for playing time. Miller was the nation's top tight end prospect by virtually every recruiting service, and Pettes wasn't far behind at 10th in the rankings.

Wide Receiver

Derek Hagan 6-2 192 Jr. Palmdale, Calif. (Palmdale)
Terry Richardson 6-1 179 So. Corona, Calif. (Centennial)
Rudy Burgess 5-11 175 RS-Fr. Edwards, Calif. (Desert)
Moey Mutz 6-0 181 Jr. Livermore, Calif. (Granada)
Matt Miller 6-2 173 Jr. Mesa, Ariz. (Mountain View)
Stephen Bisnett 5-11 173 Jr. Pendleton, Ore. (Pendleton)
Alex King 5-11 181 So. San Ramon, Calif. (San Ramon Valley)
Brian Hernandez 6-1 177 So. Phoenix, Ariz. (Mountain Pointe)
Newcomers
Jeff Gray 6-0 185 Fr. Torrance, CA (North Torrance HS)
Josh King 5-10 196 RS-Fr. Scottsdale, Ariz. (Coronado)
Michael Jones 6-3 190 Fr. Sugar Land, Texas (Fort Bend Austin)
Nate Kimbrough 6-1 175 Fr. Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (Santa Fe)
Jeremy Payton 6-1 190 Fr. Covina, Calif. (South Hills)

Fresh off an impressive sophomore season in which he led the ASU receiving corps with 66 catches for 1,076 yards and nine touchdowns, Derek Hagan returns with aspirations of becoming Andrew Walter's go-to guy. Two years ago, he broke John Jefferson's freshman receiving record and then followed that up with a stellar sophomore campaign where he was an honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection.

The onus for leadership will fall upon Hagan, especially since Skyler Fulton has graduated, and someone has to compensate for the 901 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns that Fulton amassed last season.

'Our biggest playmaker (last year) turned out to be Derek Hagan,' Koetter said. 'A lot of Derek's big plays were catch and run, where he turned medium-range passes into big plays with his running ability.'

Hagan was singled out by Koetter as perhaps having the best spring of any Sun Devil.

Junior Matt Miller, sophomore Terry Richardson and redshirt freshman Rudy Burgess are all threats and will see plenty of time alongside Hagan. Miller had 26 catches for 326 yards last season, and Richardson caught 16 passes for 236 yards. Burgess was the team's offensive scout team player of the year last season.

'Every player learns at different speeds, and I still think Terry has the ability to be a great player in this league,' Koetter said.

Juniors Moey Mutz and Stephen Bisnett may also vie for reps. Mutz showed promise last year as a sophomore, catching three passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came in ASU's season-opening win against Northern Arizona.


Fresh off an impressive sophomore season in which he led the ASU receiving corps with 66 catches for 1,076 yards and nine touchdowns, Derek Hagan returns with aspirations of becoming Andrew Walter's go-to guy.


True freshmen Michael Jones, Nate Kimbrough and Jeremy Payton each have good size and athleticism, Koetter said.

Offensive Line

Left Tackle
Chaz White 6-4 306 Jr. St. Johns, Ariz. (St. Johns) -OR-
Brandon Rodd 6-4 291 RS-Fr. Aiea, Hawai'i (Alea)
Left Guard
Grayling Love 6-3 297 Jr. Sacramento, Calif. (Valley)
Stephen Berg 6-6 319 So. Tucson, Ariz. (Canyon del Oro)
Center
Drew Hodgdon 6-3 285 Sr. Palo Alto, Calif. (Palo Alto)
Robert Gustavis 6-3 293 RS-Fr. Torrance, Calif. (North Torrance)
Right Guard
Zach Krula 6-7 297 So. Sacramento, Calif. (Valley) -OR-
Mike Pollak 6-4 285 RS-Fr. Tempe, Ariz. (Corona del Sol)
Beau Bandura 6-7 256 RS-Fr. Tempe, Ariz. (Corona del Sol)
Right Tackle
Andrew Carnahan 6-8 297 So. Hereford, Texas (Hereford)
Julius Orieukwu 6-6 303 RS-Fr. Houston, Texas (Bellaire)
Newcomers
Jonathan Lehmann 6-4 267 Fr. Giddings, Texas (Giddings)
Bradis McGriff 6-5 300 Fr. Vallejo, Calif. (Vallejo)
Brent Russum 6-5 275 Fr. Lewiston, Idaho (Lewiston)
Leo Talavou 6-4 320 Fr. Fountain Valley, Calif. (Fountain Valley)

The Sun Devils return three starters along the offensive line in sophomore Andrew Carnahan, junior Grayling Love and senior Drew Hodgdon. The team also boasts a fourth lineman with lots of starting experience in junior Chaz White.

Carnahan will line up at right tackle opposite White or redshirt freshman Brandon Rodd, while sophomore Zach Krula will play right guard. Love, a second-team All-Pac-10 selection last year, will get the nod at left guard. Hodgdon starts at center, although he also can play right guard. Love had surgery on his shoulder following spring ball. Carnahan, who started every game at left tackle a year ago, was named to the Sporting News Pac-10 Conference All-Freshman team.

There should be plenty of competition between sophomore Stephen Berg and redshirt freshmen Brandon Rodd, Robert Gustavis, Mike Pollak and Julius Orieukwu, each of whom are listed as backups on the depth chart. Orieukwu also had surgery this spring.

Incoming freshmen Jonathan Lehmann, Bradis McGriff, Brent Russum and Leo Talavou will join the team in the fall.

The Defense

Defensive Line

Defensive End
Jimmy Verdon 6-4 280 Sr. Pomona, Calif. (Pomona)
Kyle Caldwell 6-3 256 So. Scottsdale, Ariz. (Saguaro)
Ishmael Thrower 6-1 237 Sr. Sacramento, Calif. (Valley/Sacramento CC)
Mike Talbot 6-2 254 Jr. Phoenix, Ariz. (Agua Fria)
Josh Brayer 6-4 237 Jr. Glendale, Ariz. (Mountain Ridge)
Defensive Tackle
Connor Banks 6-3 269 Sr. Richmond, Calif. (St. Mary's)
Gabe Reininger 6-3 292 Sr. Las Vegas, Nev. (Moorpark College)
Jordan Hill 6-2 274 So. Pocatello, Idaho (Highland)
Brett Palmer 6-1 281 RS-Fr. Tempe, Ariz. (Marcos de Niza)
Kyle Kingsbury 6-3 253 Sr. Tempe, Ariz. (Mesa CC)
Tashaka Merriweather 6-5 256 RS-Fr. Richmond, Calif. (Richmond)
Newcomers
Quency Darley 6-2 270 Jr. Alcolu, S.C. (Kilgore CC)
Wes Evans 6-3 250 Fr. Reno, Nev. (Reno)
DeWayne Hollyfield 6-4 285 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. (Harbor CC)

ASU's defensive line is anchored by defensive ends Jimmy Verdon, Ishmael Thrower and Kyle Caldwell, whom combined for 9.5 sacks and 92 tackles last season.

Senior Ishmael Thrower led the bunch with 4.5 sacks and added 30 tackles, the second-most among defensive ends behind Verdon, who had 44. Thrower and Caldwell had excellent spring practices, while Verdon was held out with a minor injury. Caldwell, who was named to the Sporting News' Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, should be much more seasoned after marking two sacks and 18 tackles as a freshman.

Senior Connor Banks added 25 pounds in the off-season, enabling him to move from end to tackle, where he'll play alongside senior Gabe Reininger and sophomores Jordan Hill. Hill made the move to defensive tackle from linebacker after adding 25 pounds. Reininger appeared in every game last season, making 12 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.

Redshirt freshman Brett Palmer and junior college transfers DeWayne Hollyfield and Quency Darley are expected to compete for playing time. Junior Mike Talbot, a converted fullback who put on 20 pounds since last season, will also figure into the mix.

Linebacker

SAM
Jamar Williams 6-1 243 Jr. Houston, Texas (Langham Creek)
J.W. Lucas 6-4 220 So. Phoenix (Cactus) -OR-
Mark Washington 6-2 234 So. Long Beach, Calif. (Long Beach Poly)
MIKE
Justin Burks 6-1 237 Sr. Norwalk, Calif. (Cerritos CC)
DeAndre Johnson 6-2 232 RS-Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. (South Mountain)
Mike Meritet 6-1 233 RS-Fr. Greenlawn, N.Y. (Harborfields)
DEVIL
Matt Fawley 6-1 217 Jr. Richardson, Texas (Pearce)
Lamar Baker 5-11 201 Jr. Avondale, Ariz. (Agua Fria)
Robert James 5-11 196 RS-Fr. Glendale, Ariz. (Maryvale)
Rudy Sanchez 6-0 197 So. Glendale, Ariz. (Brophy Prep)
Newcomers
Dale Robinson 6-1 240 Jr. Queens, N.Y. (Glendale CC)
Antone Saulsberry 6-0 215 Fr. Bellflower, Calif. (Bellflower)
Adam Vincent 6-2 215 Fr. Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton)

The Sun Devils are deep at linebacker, thanks to the return of junior Jamar Williams and senior Justin Burks, who combined for 146 tackles last season. Both are capable of posting even bigger numbers this year in ASU's new three-linebacker set.

Williams will start at the 'Sam' position ahead of sophomores J.W. Lucas and Mark Washington. Burks will line up as a middle linebacker and will be backed by redshirt freshman DeAndre Johnson.

Juniors Matt Fawley and Lamar Baker, both of whom played safety last season, will compete for the starting 'Devil' linebacker spot, the equivalent of a rover. Modeled after current St. Louis Ram Adam Archuleta, the Devil backer is expected to be able to adjust to one-back sets and must be a good blitzer. Ironically, the last time an ASU defense used the term 'Devil Back,' the player who manned the spot was perennial All-Pro Darren Woodson of the Dallas Cowboys. Woodson was Fawley's idol while growing up in Richardson, Texas.

Koetter anticipates that freshman Antone Saulsberry could be the starting Devil backer sometime down the road. He also said that junior college transfer Dale Robinson has the potential to make an immediate impact.

Cornerback

R.J. Oliver 5-9 174 Sr. Escondido, Calif. (Escondido)
Chris McKenzie 5-9 176 Sr. New York, N.Y. (Glendale, CC)
Josh Golden 5-10 176 Jr. Westlake Village, Calif. (Grossmont CC)
Mike Davis Jr. 6-3 178 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. (Cathedral)
Chad Green 5-10 183 RS-Fr. Van Nuys, Calif. (Birmingham)
Littrele Jones 5-8 168 RS-Fr. San Francisco, Calif. (Taft)
Marques Robie 5-11 178 Jr. Atlanta, Ga. (Woodward Academy)
Newcomer
Uriah Marshall 5-11 180 Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. (Brophy Prep)

Koetter vows that his team's defensive backs will be improved this season with the addition of cornerbacks coach Mark Carrier and the luxury of three returning starters. Carrier is an 11-year NFL veteran and was a two-time All-American at the University of Southern California.

R.J. Oliver, an honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection in 2002, looks to return to form after an injury-plagued junior season. Senior Chris McKenzie was the most consistent and improved cornerback this spring and returns after turning in 39 tackles and a pair of interceptions last season.

Juniors Josh Golden and Mike Davis Jr. and freshmen Chad Green (redshirt) and Uriah Marshall are expected to challenge Oliver and McKenzie. Golden is a very steady player who is capable of earning a starting position. Golden had a team-leading six pass breakups last season and has made nine career starts. Davis, who can also play safety, made 14 tackles (12 solo) last year.

Safety

Riccardo Stewart 5-10 215 Sr. La Verne, Calif. (Bonita)
Emmanuel Franklin 5-11 196 Sr. Houston, Texas (Jones)
Josh Barrett 6-2 206 RS-Fr. Reno, Nev. (Reno)
Maurice London 6-0 179 Jr. Atlanta, Ga. (Grossmont CC)
Daniel Varvel 6-3 210 So. Bakersfield, Calif. (Bakersfield)
Marcus Johnson 6-0 196 So. Tempe, Ariz. (Marcos de Niza)
Ray Sanchez 6-0 187 So. Goodyear, Ariz. (Agua Fria)
Brett Nenaber 6-1 200 RS-Fr. Tempe, Ariz. (Corona del Sol)
Newcomers
Myrio Davis 6-1 190 Fr. Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton)
Angelo Fobbs-Valentino 6-1 185 Fr. San Mateo, Calif. (Junipero Serra)

Senior second-team All-Pac-10 selection Riccardo Stewart will be the sparkplug in ASU's new two-high safety look, which comes as a result of the switch to a three-linebacker set.

Stewart was second on the team in tackles (84) last season and tied for the team lead with three interceptions.

Senior Emmanuel Franklin successfully moved from cornerback to safety this spring and has played his way into the starting lineup. He played in nine games last year with 13 tackles including one for loss.

Junior Maurice London, an All-American at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, Calif., will compete with sophomore Daniel Varvel, who saw limited action last year, for the starting free safety spot.


Senior second-team All-Pac-10 selection Riccardo Stewart will be the sparkplug in ASU's new two-high safety look, which comes as a result of the switch to a three-linebacker set.


The coaching staff is very high on redshirt freshman Josh Barrett who will return from shoulder surgery that kept him out of spring ball.

Special Teams

Punt Returns

Rudy Burgess 5-11 175 RS-Fr. Edwards, Calif. (Desert) -OR-
Terry Richardson 6-1 179 So. Corona, Calif. (Centennial) -OR-
Josh Golden 5-10 176 Jr. Westlake Village, Calif. (Grossmont CC)

Junior Josh Golden returned 19 punts for 190 yards last season, an average of 10 yards per return. He's a candidate for punt returns this year along with sophomore Terry Richardson and redshirt freshman Rudy Burgess. Burgess and Richardson each had big returns during spring football.

Kickoff Returns

Terry Richardson 6-1 179 So. Corona, Calif. (Centennial) -OR-
Rudy Burgess 5-11 175 RS-Fr. Edwards, Calif. (Desert) -OR-
Josh Golden 5-10 176 Jr. Westlake Village, Calif. (Grossmont CC)

On kickoff returns, junior Josh Golden averaged 18.4 yards last season. Sophomore Terry Richardson returned two kicks for 46 yards. Redshirt freshman Rudy Burgess also could return kicks this year.

Punter

Chris McDonald 6-2 207 RS-Fr. Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain)

Punter Chris McDonald, a freshman from Red Mountain High School in Mesa, takes over for Tim Parker. McDonald has a strong leg but lacks experience. He'll be backed by sophomore placekicker Jesse Ainsworth.

Placekicker

Jesse Ainsworth 6-3 210 So. Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Thousand Oaks)

Sophomore Jesse Ainsworth will handle the kickoff and placekicking duties this season. He connected on 10 of 15 field goals last year and was 8 for 9 inside the 40-yard line. His long was 47 yards. In the spring game, Ainsworth hit 11 of 16 field goals.

Long Snapper

Jason Burke 6-1 246 So. Glendale, Ariz. (Mountain Ridge)
Kyle Caldwell 6-3 256 So. Scottsdale, Ariz. (Saguaro)
Ryan Senser 6-0 223 RS-Fr. Columbus, Ohio (St. Frances De Sales)

Sophomore Jason Burke returns at snapper. He was flawless last year as a freshman. Behind him is sophomore Kyle Caldwell and redshirt freshman Ryan Senser, who was sidelined last season with a knee injury.







'It was very disappointing, and it's something that, at this point, you've got to learn from and move on.'
ASU head coach Dirk Koetter




The Schedule
ASU opens its 11-game schedule Thursday, Sept. 2, playing host to Texas-El Paso at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field before traveling to Evanston, Ill., for a Sept. 11 game against Northwestern, which appeared in the Motor City Bowl last season. UTEP is led by first-year coach Mike Price.

On Sept. 18, the Sun Devils return home for a contest against an Iowa team that beat them 21-2 last year in Iowa City and is 21-5 in the past two seasons. Arizona State opens the Pac-10 season Sept. 25 against Oregon State and then hits the road for a pair of games vs. Oregon (Oct. 2) and defending national champion USC (Oct. 16). ASU's first bye comes in between the Oregon and USC road games.

ASU hosts UCLA on Oct. 23 and travels to California for an Oct. 30 game before returning home for back-to-back games against Stanford (Nov. 6) and Washington State (Nov. 13). The traditional bye precedes the Territorial Cup game between ASU and Arizona, which this year will be held Nov. 26 in Tucson.

Written by Brian Gomez, www.thesundevils.com

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