No. 18 Football Faces Rival Wildcats Friday In Tucson
Nov. 22, 2004
ASU Football Links:
Website | Weekly Release | Season Stats
Friday, Nov. 26, 2004, 1 p.m. (FSN)- Tucson, Ariz.
Fox Sports Net will televise the Arizona game to a national television audience with Barry Tompkins (play-by-play) and Petros Papadakis (color) calling the action. It marks the second time this year that ASU has appeared on Fox Sports Net and the 13th straight game that ASU has appeared on television dating back to the final two games of the 2003 campaign. All 11 of ASU's regular-season games in 2004 have been televised.
The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 11 of ASU's football games live on its 12-station radio network including flagship stations KTAR 620 AM and ESPN Radio 860 AM in Phoenix. Tim Healey (play-by-play), former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) and Paul Calvisi (pregame 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 the Sun Devils' official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com.
In the Series
Friday's matchup marks the 78th meeting between Arizona State and Arizona with the Wildcats holding a 43-33-1 lead in the all-time series. The Sun Devils have won the last two games and four of the last five games in the series including a 28-7 victory on Nov. 28, 2003 at Sun Devil Stadium. This week, ASU will be looking to win its third straight game in the series, which would be the team's longest winning streak against Arizona since the Sun Devils turned in four consecutive victories from 1975 to 1978. The Wildcats hold a 27-16 advantage in games played in Tucson, while the Sun Devils have won the last two games at Arizona Stadium, including a 34-20 victory on Nov. 29, 2002. The visiting team has won 32 times in the 77-game history of the rivalry.
The rivalry between ASU and the U-of-A began 105 years ago in 1899 with ASU (then called Tempe Normal) earning an 11-2 victory. The Sun Devils and the Wildcats have met every year since 1946. Arizona won 20 of the first 22 meetings and Arizona State responded with 24 wins in 33 meetings from 1949-1981. Arizona has won 14 of the last 22 meetings.
Taking Home the Hardware
Thanks to a historic find in a church basement several years ago, Arizona State and Arizona claim the oldest intercollegiate rivalry trophy in the nation. The Territorial Championship Cup, which has been registered with the NCAA, was first presented to Tempe Normal School (now ASU) on Nov. 30, 1899 following an 11-2 victory over the University of Arizona at Tucson's Carillo Gardens Field. The priceless Territorial Cup was lost for a time and was discovered several years ago in the basement of a church that was being demolished. According to the NCAA, the previous oldest trophy was the Michigan/Minnesota Little Brown Jug which dates back to 1909.
The Territorial Cup has been catalogued and is available for public viewing in the reading room of ASU's Hayden Library. A replica of the cup will be displayed on the field at this year's game, and the winning team in the rivalry will be awarded the actual trophy to display in its Hall of Fame each year.
In addition to the Territorial Cup, there will be an abundance of other hardware handed out at this year's game. The Big Game Trophy, a sculpture by artist Ben Goo which was the prize in the rivalry game from 1979 to 1997, will be awarded to the game MVP to be displayed in the school's Hall of Fame, while the Saguaro Trophy, a bronze sculpture by artist Dora Perry which served as the reward starting in 1998, will be given to the coach of the winning team to display in his office for the year.
With an 8-2 record, the Sun Devils are bowl-eligible for the sixth time in nine years and the second time in four seasons under head coach Dirk Koetter. ASU is looking to make its 21st all-time bowl appearance and the first since playing in the 2002 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. ASU holds a 10-9-1 all-time record in postseason play and has dropped its last three bowl appearances, including a 34-27 loss in 2002 to then No. 6 Kansas State in San Diego.
Three Sun Devils Earn Academic All-District Honors
Sophomore kicker Jesse Ainsworth, sophomore long snapper Jason Burke and junior offensive lineman Grayling Love have been selected to the 2004 Academic All-District VIII Football Team, marking the first time ASU has had more than two student-athletes named to the team. Ainsworth is undeclared on his major and holds a 3.62 cumulative GPA, while Burke carries a 3.89 GPA in economics. Love, who earned second-team academic all-district honors last season, holds a 3.48 GPA in finance.
ASU led the Pac-10 with the most student-athletes represented and was one of three schools in the district with three members on the 24-member list. District VIII includes the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
Walter Up for Unitas and O'Brien Awards
Senior quarterback Andrew Walter, the Pac-10 career touchdown pass leader, is on the finalist this for both the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Davey O'Brien Quarterback Award, which are both awarded to the nation's top collegiate quarterback.
Walter is one of nine outstanding quarterbacks who have been selected as finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the nation's top senior quarterback by the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. The nation's top senior quarterback is selected for the award from a list compiled by a select committee of football experts from across the United States. The 2004 recipient will be announced Dec. 1, with the award presentation to be made in Louisville on Dec. 10.
The other eight finalists for the award include Jason Campbell (Auburn), Timmy Chang (Hawaii), Charlie Frye (Akron), David Greene (Georgia), Stefan LeFors (Louisville), Dan Orlovsky (Connecticut), Kyle Orton (Purdue) and Jason White (Oklahoma).
Walter is also one of 13 semifinalists for the 2004 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. The O'Brien selection committee, composed of national sportswriters and commentators, as well as former O'Brien Award winners, will vote later this month to narrow the field again. The three finalists will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 23 by the National College Football Awards Association in a joint effort among college football award programs.
The thirteen semifinalists, in alphabetical order, are: Jason Campbell (Sr., Auburn), Timmy Chang (Sr. Hawai'i), David Greene (Sr., Georgia), Chris Leak (So., Florida), Stefan LeFors (Sr., Louisville), Matt Leinart (Jr., USC), Reggie McNeal (Jr., Texas A&M), Kyle Orton (Sr., Purdue), Aaron Rodgers (Jr., California), Alex Smith (Jr., Utah), Andrew Walter (Sr., Arizona State), Jason White (Sr., Oklahoma), and Jared Zabransky (So., Boise State).
The winner of the 2004 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award will be announced on the 2004 Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 9. The winner will be honored Feb. 21, 2005, at the 28th annual Davey O'Brien Awards Dinner at The Fort Worth Club in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.
Friday afternoon's game marks the final regular-season game for ASU's 13 seniors. ASU's seniors include TE Aaron Austin, DE Connor Banks, LB Justin Burks, S Emmanuel Franklin, C Drew Hodgdon, DT Kyle Kingsbury, CB Chris McKenzie, CB R.J. Oliver, DT Gabe Reininger, S Riccardo Stewart, DE Ishmael Thrower, DL Jimmy Verdon and QB Andrew Walter.
With a 45-28 victory over Washington State on Nov. 13 in the team's home finale, Arizona State won its seventh straight home game and turned in just the second undefeated (and untied) home season in 17 years. The previous Sun Devil squad to go unbeaten at home was the 1996 Pac-10 Championship team which turned in a 7-0 record at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU's 1986 Rose Bowl team went 6-0-1, while the Sun Devils have had just 10 undefeated home campaigns in the 46 seasons since opening Sun Devil Stadium in 1958.
ASU's seven straight home victories, which date back to the Arizona game in 2003, mark the longest home winning streak since the team won eight consecutive home games over the 1996 and 1997 seasons (all seven in 1996 and the season-opener in 1997).
Undefeated Teams At Sun Devil Stadium2004 (6-0) 1975 (7-0) 1968 (6-0)1996 (7-0) 1973 (6-0) 1964 (7-0)1986 (6-0-1) 1971 (6-0) 1959 (7-0)1981 (7-0) 1970 (6-0)
Tillman Jersey Retired
Arizona State retired the No. 42 jersey of former Sun Devil Pat Tillman (1976-2004) at halftime of the team's Nov. 13 win over Washington State. Tillman became the fifth Sun Devil to have his jersey retired and the first since Mike Haynes in 2000.
The 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time all-league honoree, Tillman played linebacker at ASU from 1994-97. An Academic All-American and three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection, Tillman graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business with a B.S. in marketing on Dec. 19, 1997.
After a successful five-year NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals, Tillman and his brother, Kevin, a former ASU baseball player, enlisted in the U.S. Army and became members of the elite Rangers unit. He was killed in the line of duty in April in Afghanistan. Tillman was posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Silver Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Purple Heart.
All season the Sun Devil team have worn a patch with Tillman's number on the front of their jerseys, while the Pac-10 Conference has honored Tillman by renaming its Defensive Player of the Year Award after him. The ASU team shop is currently selling a replica Tillman jersey with all proceeds benefitting the Pat Tillman Foundation (pattillmanfoundation.net), which promotes leadership and public service.
In cooperation with the Tillman family, Arizona State and the Arizona Cardinals have also established the Pat Tillman Memorial Scholarship. For more information on the scholarship, please contact Lynda Lumpkin at (480) 965-2475. Donations can be sent via mail to the ASU Foundation, Attn: Lynda Lumpkin, P.O. Box 873208, Tempe, AZ 85287-3208.
ASU's Retired JerseysNo. Player (Years) Year Retired11 Danny White (1971-73) 199727 Bobby Mulgado (1954-57) 195833 Wilford White (1947-50) 195140 Mike Haynes (1974-75) 200042 Pat Tillman (1994-97) 2004
ASU A Candidate for Fed Ex Express Air Team of the Year
Arizona State was voted the FedEx Express College Football Air Team of the Week on Thursday, Nov. 18 following the Sun Devils' Nov. 13 victory over Washington State. The Sun Devils are eligible to become the FedEx Express College Football Air Team of the Year. The teams of the year will be announced during the halftime of the FedEx Orange Bowl, and the winning schools will each receive $25,000 towards their general scholarship fund.
Each weekly FedEx Express and FedEx Ground team of the week is automatically eligible for the team of the year award. Voting for the team of the year program will take place at the conclusion of the college football regular season, and fans can go to www.fedexorangebowl.com to vote.
Led by ASU's career-leading passer Andrew Walter, ASU's passing offense is averaging 302.4 yards per game this season to rank second in the Pac-10 and ninth in the country. Walter broke John Elway's Pac-10 career passing touchdowns record Nov. 6 against Stanford and set the ASU single-season mark for TD passes with five scoring strikes Nov. 13 against Washington. Walter now has 85 career touchdowns, throwing 30 so far this season to break Mike Pagel's previous school record of 29 in 1981.
This season, Walter ranks second in the Pac-10 with 283.0 passing yards per game and is second in the league and 16th in the country in total offense (272.8 yards per contest). Walter's 30 touchdown passes this year rank second-most among the nation's quarterbacks. Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs leads the country with 32, while Oklahoma's Jason White also has throw 30 TD passes. Walter also ranks fourth in the country in points responsible for at 18.4 points per contest.
The Sun Devils have scored 31 of their 36 touchdowns through the air this year, while the team ranks fourth in the league and 27th in the country in total offense at 419.3 yards per game. The Sun Devils are fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring offense (30.4 points per game). ASU's 3,024 passing yards so far this season rank fifth on the ASU singe-season charts, while the team is just shy of the school record of 303.9 passsing yards per game set in 2002.
ASU Single-Season Passing Yards1. 4,254 2002 (14 games)2. 3,291 2003 (12)3. 3,155 2000 (12)4. 3,077 1973 (12)5. 3,024 2004 (10)
ASU Single-Season Passing Yards Per Game1. 303.9 2002 (4,254 in 14 games)2. 302.4 2004 (3,024 in 10)3. 274.2 2003 (3,291 in 12)4. 262.9 2000 (3,155 in 12)5. 259.3 2001 (2,852 in 11)
ASU's Pac-10 Players of the Week
Senior quarterback Andrew Walter was named the Pac-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 4, marking the second time this year that he has been recognized by the conference. This season, ASU has had five players earn Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors, sweeping the defensive category in three straight weeks earlier this year. Here is a list of the Sun Devils who have been named Pac-10 Player of the Week this year:
Date Player Honor OpponentN 4 Andrew Walter Co-Offensive StanfordO 25 Andrew Walter Offensive UCLAS 27 Emmanuel Franklin Defensive Oregon StateS 20 Jamar Williams Defensive Iowa Jesse Ainsworth Special Teams IowaS 13 Dale Robinson Defensive Northwestern
With four touchdown passes in ASU's Nov. 6 win over Stanford, senior quarterback Andrew Walter became the Pac-10's career leader in touchdown passes and now has 85. He tied the 77 TD passes that Stanford's John Elway threw in his career (1979-82) with a 41-yard pass to Terry Richardson in the second quarter of the game and broke the mark with a 52-yard pass to Matt Miller as the first quarter ended. Walter finished with 415 yards in that game to go along with his four TD passes and was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Division 1-A National Offensive Player of the Week.
Already ASU's record-holder in just about every passing category, Walter is second among the NCAA's active career leaders for passing touchdowns and sixth in career passing yards. Hawaii's Timmy Chang (105) is the only active quarterback in the nation to have thrown more career touchdown passes than Walter.
In ASU's Nov. 13 win over Washington State, Walter continued his assault on the ASU record book, tossing five TD passes to set the school single-season record with 30, passing the 29 that Mike Pagel had in 1981. On ASU's single-season charts, he now holds three of the top four marks in both passing yards and touchdown passes.
Walter became Arizona State's career passing yardage leader on Oct. 16 against top-ranked USC. He tied Jake Plummer's career mark of 8,827 yards with a seven-yard pass to freshman Zach Miller on ASU's second drive of the second quarter at USC and surpassed it with a 10-yard pass to junior Derek Hagan on the team's third drive that period. Walter now ranks sixth on the Pac-10 career list with 10,297 career yards. He is just the sixth quarterback in Pac-10 history to throw for 10,000 yards.
This season, Walter ranks second in the Pac-10 at 283.0 passing yards per game and second in the league and 16th in the nation in total offense at 272.8 yards per game. He has completed 57.0 percent of his attempts (221-388) with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Walter's 30 touchdown passes this year are tied for the second-most among the nation's quarterbacks. Oklahoma's Jason White has also thrown 30 TD passes, while Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs leads the country with 32. He also ranks fourth in the country in points responsible for at 18.4 points per contest.
Walter came into ASU's Sept. 18 game against Iowa third on the ASU career touchdowns list behind College Football Hall of Famer Danny White (64, 1971-73) and current Denver Bronco Jake Plummer (65, 1993-96), but the Grand Junction, Colo., native tied Plummer in the third quarter and took sole possession of ASU's career mark with a scoring strike to freshman Zach Miller in the fourth against the Hawkeyes. He tied his then career high with five TD passes vs. Iowa (since broken) and completed 31 of 43 attempts for 428 yards against the Hawkeyes. On Oct. 23 vs. UCLA, Walter completed 25 of 51 passes for 415 yards and a career-high six TDs. Following that performance against the Bruins, Walter was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week and the USAToday.com National Player of the Week.
A 2003 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection, Walter has turned in 23 multiple touchdown games in his career, including seven in 2003 and seven this season. He has had at least one scoring strike in all but two games this year (USC and Cal). The USC game snapped his streak of nine straight games with at least one TD pass, including five against Iowa on Sept. 18 and three in ASU's Oct. 2 win at Oregon. Walter now has had eight career games with at least four TD passes, including a career-best six touchdown passes Oct. 23 against UCLA and five in two games (Iowa in 2004 and Stanford in 2002).
Walter, who earned his bachelor's degree in communication in May of 2004, already holds the top two marks on the Sun Devil single-season passing charts (3,877 yards in 2002 and 3,044 yards in 2003), while his 2,830 yards this season rank fourth on that list. With his 40 attempts on Sept. 25 against Oregon State, Walter became the ASU career leader in pass attempts, while he set the career completions mark with his second completion at No. 1 USC on Oct. 16.
Walter threw his first interception of the 2004 season in the second quarter of the Sept. 18 Iowa game, snapping a stretch of three straight games, 15 quarters and 136 attempts dating back to last season (his previous pick was in the second quarter of the Nov. 15, 2003 Washington State game). He did not have another interception until the first quarter of the Oct. 16 USC game, going two games, 11 quarters and 98 attempts without a pick.
In his third year as a team co-captain, Walter opened the season with a 241-yard, three-touchdown effort on 18-of-37 passing Sept. 2 against UTEP. He has turned in at least 200 yards passing in 24 of his 34 career starts. Of those 24 games, he has thrown for more than 400 yards eight times, including his Pac-10-record 536-yard effort at Oregon in 2002.
... Sophomore left guard Stephen Berg hails from Tucson, Ariz., graduating from Canyon del Oro High School in 2002.
...The Sagarin rankings list ASU's schedule as the second-toughest in the country this season. ASU is ranked eighth in the latest Sagarin rankings and 16th in the BCS rankings.
... With an 8-2 record, ASU has a chance to turn in its most wins since 1997 when the team went 9-3 in its Sun Bowl campaign. ASU's win over WSU on Nov. 13 matched the eight the team had in 2002 when the Sun Devils finished in a tie for third in the Pac-10 and earned a trip to the Holiday Bowl.
... ASU ranks 18th in this week's Associated Press poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Prior to its loss at No. 1/1 USC on Oct. 16, ASU had climbed to 15th and 19th in the national polls, the highest since ASU's 1997 Sun Bowl squad finished at 14th in the final national polls.
... ASU averaged 62,641 fans per game at Sun Devil Stadium this year to rank third in the Pac-10 in home attendance. It marked the highest total since the team averaged 64,923 fans per contest in 1998. ASU's capacity crowd of 71,700 in the Sept. 20 Iowa game was the 16th-largest crowd in school history and the first sell-out at Sun Devil Stadium since Oct. 10, 1998 when 73,501 saw the Sun Devils fall to Notre Dame.
... The Sun Devils have allowed their opponents to convert on just 30.5 percent of their third-down efforts (46-151), which is third in the Pac-10. ASU is even stingier on fourth down, allowing opponents just 16.7 percent (2-12), which ranks second in the league.
... With its win over UCLA on Oct. 23, ASU won its sixth game and became bowl eligible for the sixth time in nine years and the second time in Dirk Koetter's four-year ASU tenure. ASU last appeared in a bowl game in 2002, earning a trip to the Holiday Bowl with a third-place finish in the Pac-10 standings.
...ASU's non-conference opponents are a combined 23-9 this season. No. 12/14 Iowa is 9-2, No. 24/25 UTEP is 8-2 and Northwestern has a 6-5 record.
... After allowing just 12.8 points per game in the first five weeks of the season, ASU has allowed 34.6 ppg in the last four contests.
... The Sun Devils have scored first in five of 10 games this year after doing it just five times in 12 games in 2003. ASU has scored first only 15 times in its last 36 games dating back to the 2002 season.
... ASU's loss to top-ranked USC on Oct. 16 snapped a streak of five straight wins this year and six overall for the Sun Devils dating back to last season's win over Arizona. ASU had not won five straight games in one season since the 1997 Sun Bowl campaign, while the team had not won six straight since reeling off 11 consecutive wins to start the 1996 season.
... Arizona State holds a 225-78-3 all-time record at Sun Devil Stadium (.740).
... ASU's Pac-10 miss this year is Washington.
...Assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Tom Osborne was honored as the 2003 American Football Monthly Magazine's Division I-A Special Teams Coordinator of the Year.
... Arizona State Athletics Director Gene Smith played college football at Notre Dame, earning three letters and playing on the Irish's 1973 national title squad.
Hagan A Semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award
Junior wide receiver Derek Hagan has been named one of 11 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which is annually presented to college football's outstanding receiver by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc.
Hagan joins former Sun Devil and current St. Louis Ram Shaun McDonald as a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. McDonald, who ranks second in ASU history with 2,867 career receiving yards, was named one of three finalists for the award in 2002.
Other finalists for the award include Oklahoma's Mark Clayton, Michigan's Braylon Edwards, Ohio State's Santonio Holmes, Purdue's Taylor Stubblefield, Colorado State's David Anderson, South Carolina's Troy Williamson, West Virginia's Chris Henry, UNLV's Earvin Johnson, Hawaii's Chad Owens and Ball State's Dante Ridgeway. Three finalists will be named on Nov. 15 and the winner will be announced in December at the annual ESPN awards show at Walt Disney World and feted at a February banquet in Tallahassee.
Junior wide receiver Derek Hagan has led the Sun Devils in receiving yards in seven of 10 games this season. The Biletnikoff Award semifinalist turned in his sixth 100-yard game of the year Nov. 13 against Washington State, catching nine passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. On Nov. 6 against Stanford, he had eight catches for 108 yards, while he hauled in five balls for 160 yards and tied his career best with three touchdown catches Oct. 23 against UCLA.
With 95.6 receiving yards per game, Hagan is second in the Pac-10 and 10th in the nation, while his 6.7 receptions per contest are second in the league and 15th in the country. Of his 67 catches this year, 39 have been resulted in a first down and/or a touchdown (316 first downs and nine TDs), including five of seven catches Sept. 25 vs. Oregon State and five of eight Nov. 6 against Stanford. Hagan is riding a streak of 27 straight contests with a catch (147 receptions), including all 12 games last season and 10 this year.
Hagan topped the 100-yard mark in each of the first three games of 2004. In ASU's Sept. 18 win over then No. 16/12 Iowa, he turned in eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. At Northwestern, Hagan caught eight passes for 154 yards and two TDs, while in the Sept. 2 season-opening win over UTEP, he had eight catches for 119 yards and one touchdown. With seven catches for 66 yards Sept. 25 against Oregon State, Hagan had his streak of six straight 100-yard receiving games snapped. That game also ended a streak of six consecutive games with at least one touchdown catch. Hagan reached 100 yards in each of the last three games last year (138 yards vs. Stanford, 109 at Washington State and 155 vs. Arizona).
Hagan now has 12 career 100-yard games, which is tied for second on the ASU career lists, while he needs just one more to tie Eric Guliford, who is the ASU leader with 13 career 100-yard receiving games (1989-91). Hagan continues to climb the ASU career receiving charts and is second on the lists with 165 catches and fifth with 2,437 yards.
Hagan was a third-team All-American by Athlon in its preseason college football edition. Hagan, who was also listed as a first-team All-Pac-10 selection by the magazine and the 15th-best wide receiver in the nation by Lindy's, led the team in receiving last year with 66 catches for 1,076 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to leading the team, his 1,076-yard performance ranked fifth on the ASU single-season charts and made him just the seventh Sun Devil in school history to tally 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Hagan finished fifth in the Pac-10 and 19th in the country in 2003 with 89.7 receiving yards per game. With 66 catches, he also ranked second in the ASU record books for receptions in a season.
Freshman tight end Zach Miller has already set both of ASU's freshman receiving records. With 39 yards Nov. 13 against Washington State, Miller took possession of the receiving yards record with 448 yards, surpassing the 423 College Football Hall of Famer John Jefferson had in 1974. He already owns ASU's record for receptions by a rookie with 43 catches, setting that mark in the Nov. 6 Stanford win. Junior Derek Hagan had held the previous mark with 32 receptions in his 2002 rookie season.
Miller turned in a career-high 102 receiving yards on eight catches Oct. 16 against top-ranked USC, marking the first 100-yard receiving career of his young career. This season, Miller is second on the team with 43 catches for 448 yards (44.8 yards per game) and six touchdowns. He is also ranked seventh in the Pac-10 with 4.3 catches per contest.
Miller, who has been nicknamed 'The Truth' by his teammates for living up to the high-school accolades that tabbed him the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation, caught 10 passes for 85 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career Sept. 18 vs. Iowa and added another TD Sept. 25 vs. Oregon State. The Phoenix native has also already surpassed the season totals that current Baltimore Raven Todd Heap had as a freshman at ASU. Heap turned in 12 catches for 209 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 1998.
With his 43 catches, Miller has also already moved into fourth on the ASU's top 10 list for catches by a tight end in a single season. Heap set all of ASU's single-season records for receiving by a tight end with 55 catches for 832 yards in 1999.
Arizona State's defense has snagged a season-high four interceptions three times this year, most recently Nov. 6 against Stanford. The team also picked off four passes in the season opener vs. UTEP and on Oct. 23 vs. UCLA. Junior cornerback Josh Golden had two of ASU's four picks last week vs. the Cardinal, marking the fourth game this year that a Sun Devil has had two interceptions (senior safety Emmanuel Franklin vs. UCLA and UTEP, junior linebacker Jamar Williams vs. Oregon State, Golden vs. Stanford).
Arizona State's defense has intercepted 16 passes so far this year, which is tied for third in the Pac-10, while nine Sun Devils have had at least one pick this season, including defensive end Kyle Caldwell who had his first career interception Nov. 13 against Washington State. Franklin is tied for third in the Pac-10 and 20th in the country with his four interceptions (0.40 per game), while Williams is 10th in the league with three interceptions this year (0.30). Golden and junior Mike Davis Jr. each have two interceptions on the season for the Sun Devils.
Franklin leads the active roster with five career interceptions. Only senior R.J. Oliver, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in preseason practice, has more interceptions in his career (eight). Franklin returned his second interception against the UTEP Miners 48 yards for touchdown, marking the second time that the fifth-year senior, who missed the 2002 season after having brain surgery, has accomplished the feat. In 2001, his redshirt freshman year, Franklin set the school record and tied the Pac-10 mark for the longest interception return with a 100-yarder in the season opener vs. San Diego State.
Spreading the Wealth
Arizona State's offense features three of the top 10 receivers in the Pac-10 this season. Junior Derek Hagan is ranked second in the Pac-10 and 15th in the nation with 6.7 catches per game, while freshman Zach Miller (4.3) and sophomore Terry Richardson (4.2) are seventh and eighth in the league, respectively. Hagan is also ranked second in the league and 10th in the nation with 95.6 receiving yards per game, while Richardson is sixth in the Pac-10 (62.5 ypg).
Thirteen Sun Devils have caught passes this year, while nine players have made touchdown catches on the season, including junior Matt Miller who caught his first two TD passes of the season Nov. 6 against Stanford, including the game-winner with nine seconds left. On Nov. 13 against Washington State, ASU had five diffferent players catch a touchdown pass.
Spreading the wealth is nothing new to the Sun Devils who completed passes to 13 different receivers last year and 14 during the 2002 Holiday Bowl campaign. Last season, ASU had a different player lead the team in receiving in each of the team's first five games.
ASU has also had two receivers turn in 100 yards in the same game twice this year, both times by Hagan and Richardson. Hagan had 160 yards and Richardson had a career-best 159 against over UCLA on Oct. 23, while the pair did it again Nov. 6 against Stanford (Hagan-108, Richardson-107). Last season, the Sun Devils accomplished the feat three times, doing it in each of the last three games (at Stanford, at Washington State and Arizona). Hagan turned in a 100-yard game in each of those last three contests and was joined by Matt Miller in the Stanford game and Skyler Fulton in the other two.
Three Sun Devil seniors - quarterback Andrew Walter, linebacker Justin Burks and defensive lineman Jimmy Verdon - have already been invited to play in various senior all-star games this year.
Walter will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 29, 2005 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Burks has accepted the invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 15, 2005 at SBC Park in San Francisco. Verdon has been invited to participate in both the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Hula Bowl (Jan. 22, 2005 at War Memorial Stadium on Maui).
Notes from the Red Zone
Arizona State has been efficient in the red zone on both sides of the ball this season. On offense, the Sun Devils have scored on 81.0 percent of their trips into the red zone (34-42, 23 TDs and 11 FGs) to rank third in the Pac-10, including 7-of-7 in the team's Sept. 18 win over then No. 16/12 Iowa and 5-of-5 in an Oct. 23 win over UCLA. In the last nine games, ASU has scored on 31 of 38 visits inside the opponents' 20-yard line with 22 TDs. ASU's Oct. 30 game at California marked the only game this season that ASU has failed to score when getting past their opponents' 20-yard line (0-3).
Arizona State is fourth in the Pac-10 in red-zone defense, allowing teams to score 74.2 percent of the time (23-31). ASU's opponents have scored 18 touchdowns and five field goals in those trips inside the ASU 20-yard line.
Arizona State ranks third in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation in turnover margin, forcing +0.70 turnovers per game. The Sun Devils have won the turnover battle 24-17, recovering eight fumbles and picking off 16 passes, while giving up 16 miscues (eight interceptions and eight fumbles). Prior to losing four fumbles Oct. 30 at Cal, ASU had been the only squad in the nation that had not lost a fumble this year. ASU has gone without a turnover in three of the team's 10 games this year (Northwestern, Oregon State and Oregon) and turned the ball over a season-high five times Oct. 30 against California. Oklahoma State is leading the nation at +1.60, while USC is first in the Pac-10 in turnover margin at +1.30.
Senior safety Emmanuel Franklin is tied for third in the Pac-10 and 20th in the country with his four interceptions (.40 per game), while junior linebacker Jamar Williams is 10th in the league with three interceptions this year. Franklin, sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Hill and senior defensive end Ishmael Thrower have each recovered two fumbles this season.
ASU's Trio of Linebackers
Arizona State's linebacking crew of juniors Dale Robinson and Jamar Williams and senior Justin Burks has reaped big benefits from ASU's switch to a 4-3 defense this season. ASU's linebacking trio has accounted for 34.0 percent of Arizona State's tackles this year (219 of 645), including 29 of 69 stops Sept. 11 at Northwestern. Robinson has led the team in tackles four times this season, most recently 11 stops at No. 1/1 USC on Oct. 16, and is averaging 7.5 stops per game (tied for eighth in the Pac-10). Robinson also leads the team with 10.0 tackles for loss. Burks has accomplished the feat in three games, including a career-best 13 stops in the win over Oregon State on Sept. 25 (six solo). Burks (7.5 tackles per game, T8th in the Pac-10) and Williams (6.9, T14th in the league) are second and third on the team in tackles, respectively. Williams led the team with 10 tackles Oct. 23 vs. UCLA and eight Nov. 13 against Washington State, while Burks had 11 in ASU's Nov. 6 win over Stanford.
Robinson was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after turning in 14 tackles (10 solo) against Northwestern, while Burks had eight tackles (seven solo). Williams was third on the team with seven tackles (all solo) against the Wildcats. Against Iowa on Sept. 18, Robinson led the way with nine tackles, while Williams had five stops (four solo), a TFL, a sack and an interception to earn Pac-10 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors. The trio was on the watch lists for both the 2004 Rotary Lombardi and the Butkus awards earlier this year.
Last season while at Glendale (Ariz.) Community College, Robinson, who is originally from Queens, N.Y., and was a childhood friend of ASU senior cornerback Chris McKenzie, was the Western States League Defensive Player of the Year.
Getting to the Quarterback
Arizona State's defense is second in the Pac-10 with 32 sacks this year. Sophomore defensive end Kyle Caldwell leads the team and ranks seventh in the league with 7.0 sacks (0.70 per game), including two in ASU's Nov. 13 win over Washington State. Senior defensive end Ishmael Thrower and sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Hill are second on the team and tied for 10th in the league with 5.5 sacks apiece (0.55 sacks per game). ASU has 13 players who have had a sack on the year, including senior cornerback Chris McKenzie who had the first sack of his career Nov. 6 against Stanford.
On the other side of the ball, Arizona State's offensive line is seventh in the Pac-10 in sacks allowed, giving up 33 through 10 games this season. The Sun Devils have not allowed a sack in two games this year (Iowa and Oregon State). ASU gave up just eight sacks through the first five games of the season. Last year, ASU was third in the Pac-10 with 25 sacks on the year.
Senior center Drew Hodgdon made his return to the field Sept. 25 against Oregon State after missing the first three games with a broken foot and made his first start of the year Oct. 2 at Oregon. The Sun Devils return three starters along the offensive line in 2004 in senior center Drew Hodgdon (32 career starts), junior guard Grayling Love (22) and sophomore right tackle Andrew Carnahan (22). New starters this year include redshirt freshman center Mike Pollak who has five starts (the first four games of the year at center and the USC game at right guard), and sophomore left guard Stephen Berg who has started the last nine contests after redshirt freshman Brandon Rodd (also a new starter) tore his ACL in the first game of the year. In addition, junior left tackle Chaz White has started 16 games in his career.
A first-team All-Pac-10 selection by all three preseason publications, junior Grayling Love was named a preseason honorable-mention All-American by Street & Smith's and is listed as the best run blocker in the Pac-10 by Lindy's.
A 2003 second-team All-Pac-10 honoree, senior safety Riccardo Stewart made his return to the field Sept. 11 at Northwestern a memorable one. He was third on the team in tackles with seven stops (all solo) and caused the game-clinching turnover in the fourth quarter against the Wildcats. Stewart stopped NU's potential go-ahead drive with a bone-jarring hit on the Wildcat tailback Terrell Jordan at the ASU 20, forcing a fumble, which was recovered by senior Ishmael Thrower. Stewart was also second on the team with six tackles (five solo) Oct. 16 at No. 1 USC. He led the team with a career-best 12 tackles (10 solo) Oct. 30 against No. 7/8 California and tied for the team lead with eight tackles Nov. 13 vs. Washington State (seven solo).
A two-year team co-captain, Stewart won the Sun Devil Valor Award in each of the last two seasons, an honor given to a great team player who consistently displays courage on and off the field. This season, he is fourth in the team with 7.1 tackles per game (44 solo, 13 assisted). Stewart was a preseason honorable-mention All-American by Street & Smith's and is listed as the 20th-best safety in the country in the preseason by Lindy's. A four-year starter, Stewart is one of the most experienced Sun Devils with 40 career games and 30 starts to his credit. Last year, he ranked second on the team and seventh in the Pac-10 with 7.6 tackles per game (84 stops) and paced the Sun Devils with three interceptions.
A total of 26 players saw the first action of their Sun Devil careers in the Sept. 2 season opener against UTEP, including five true freshmen, 16 redshirt freshmen, four juniors and one senior. Four of those players made starts in their ASU debuts, including redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Mike Pollak and Brandon Rodd, true freshman h-back Zach Miller and junior linebacker Dale Robinson. In comparison, 20 Sun Devils saw the first action of their careers in the Sun Devils' first two games last season.
The five true freshmen to see action against UTEP included Miller, walk-on cornerback Rodney Cox, wide receiver/cornerback Jeremy Payton, tight end Andrew Pettes and linebacker Antone Saulsberry. Payton saw action both on offense and defense against the Miners. Last year, seven true freshmen played for the Sun Devils. ASU's current roster features a total of 19 Sun Devils who saw action during their true freshman campaigns, including Jesse Ainsworth, Josh Barrett, Kyle Caldwell, Sam Keller, DeAndre Johnson, Daniel Varvel and Mark Washington in 2003; Mike Davis Jr., Matt Fawley, Derek Hagan, Mike Talbot, Chaz White and Jamar Williams in 2002; and Lamar Baker in 2001.
Lighting Up the Scoreboard
Arizona State has averaged 30.6 points per game in Dirk Koetter's four years at the helm. This year, the Sun Devils are fourth in the Pac-10 and 33rd in the nation at 30.4 points per game. The team averaged 24.5 points per game last year, 32.3 ppg in 2002 and 34.0 ppg in 2001. Last season, the Sun Devils scored a season-high 59 points in a 59-14 win over Oregon on Oct. 11. That effort marked the most points for the team since ASU set its school record for scoring in a Pac-10 game with its 65-24 win over Stanford on Sept. 28, 2002. Since coming to ASU, a Koetter-led team has put 50 or more points on the scoreboard four times (10 times in his career).
With their 27-0 loss at No. 7/8 California on Oct. 30, the Sun Devils had their school-record streak of 109 consecutive games without being shut out snapped. It marked the first shutout for the team in nine years, since a 31-0 loss at USC on Sept. 30, 1995.
ASU Picked Sixth in Preseason Pac-10 Poll
Arizona State was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 in the league's preseason poll of West Coast media members. Defending league and Associated Press national champion USC was picked to finish first, garnering all 24 first-place votes. ASU proved to be something of a challenge for the media members. The Sun Devils were sixth but were just seven points out of fourth place, while media members picked them anywhere from third to ninth.
Pac-10 Preseason Media Poll (1st place votes)1. USC (24) 2402. California 2103. Oregon 1924. Oregon State 1385. Washington State 1336. Arizona State 1317. Washington 1008. UCLA 989. Stanford 4010. Arizona 38