Sun Devils Travel to Los Angeles to Meet No. 3 USC
Oct. 10, 2006
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Date: Saturday, October 14, 2006
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m.
Site: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (92,000), Los Angeles, Calif.
Television: ABC (ABC 15 KNXV-TV locally)
Play-by-Play/Color: Mark Jones/David Norrie
Sideline Reporter: Stacey Dales
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 620 AM & KMVP/ESPN Radio 860
Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst
ASU has averaged 187.0 yards rushing in its last three games (182 at Colorado, 237 at California and 142 vs. Oregon).
ASU's top two rushers, junior TB Ryan Torain (6.3) and sophomore TB Keegan Herring (6.6), are both averaging more than 6.0 yards per carry.
Ryan Torain has averaged 128 yards rushing in ASU's last three games, including a career-best 191 yards at California (Sept. 23).
Junior All-America TE Zach Miller (111 career receptions) needs five receptions to pass former Sun Devil All-America and current Baltimore Ravens TE Todd Heap (115 receptions) for the most career receptions by a Sun Devil tight end. He needs 158 yards receiving to pass former Sun Devil tight end Joe Petty for third on ASU's all-time list for most receiving yards by a tight end.
ASU will be looking for its first win against USC since 1999, also the last time the Sun Devils beat the Trojans in Los Angeles.
Senior PK Jesse Ainsworth (257 career points) needs 21 points to pass former Sun Devil Mike Barth (1999-02) for second on ASU's all-time list.
Currently with 1,072 career kickoff return yards, senior Terry Richardson needs 154 yards to pass former Sun Devil Chris Hopkins (1992-95) for most career kickoff return yards. In ASU's last outing vs. Oregon, Richardson became the first Sun Devil to return a kickoff for a touchdown in Sun Devil Stadium since 1986 when he tied a school record with a 100-yard return vs. Oregon.
ASU's defense is allowing an average of only 7.6 points in the second half of games this season, including a total of only seven points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 138.0 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
Currently with 19 sacks, the Sun Devil defense needs three more sacks to tie its sack total from the entire 2005 season.
LAST GAME (Oregon 48, ASU 13)
Despite senior Terry Richardson's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first by ASU in Sun Devil Stadium since 1986, the Sun Devils fell to #14/12 Oregon 48-13.
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Jaison Williams to lead Oregon to the victory. Williams had 10 catches for 137 yards and the two scores, while running back Jonathan Stewart led the Ducks with 142 yards on the ground. ASU's Ryan Torain had another outstanding game on the ground, compiling 113 yards on 19 carries for the Sun Devils.
Oregon started the day's scoring with a 13-yard pass from Dixon to Williams for a 7-0 lead. Dixon and Williams would hook up again with three minutes left in the opening quarter, this time for a 33-yard touchdown to go up 14-0.
The Sun Devils closed the gap to 14-3 on a 33-yard field goal by Jesse Ainsworth with just over six minutes left in the first half. But Oregon would add ten more points before intermission, including a three-yard touchdown run by WR Cameron Colvin on a reverse that made it 21-3. A Paul Martinez field goal at the gun made it 24-3 at halftime.
The Ducks would open the scoring in the third quarter with a four-yard scoring run by Jeremiah Johnson to make it 31-3. Richardson then wowed the crowd of 58,526 when he took the ensuing Matt Evensen kickoff 100 yards for the score, making it 31-10. Richardson fielded the ball in the endzone, faked a handoff to Keegan Herring, then raced for the first kickoff return for touchdown by a Sun Devil in Sun Devil Stadium since November of 1986, when Bruce Hill took one back against California.
Arizona State would add another Ainsworth field goal, but ultimately the Ducks were too much for the Devils, as they went on to the 48-13 win.
Head Coach Dirk Koetter Said ...
'When you get beat like that there isn't much you can say. Hats off to Oregon, they're a good football team ... We have to use this bye week coming up. We have a two-week time period until we play USC. We have to use this bye week and go back and start with the basic fundamentals in our passing game with throwing, catching and protecting. At times we didn't protect well and at times we didn't throw well and we've got to totally start over ... We had chances to get in this game, but in the Pac-10 you've got to be able to score some points. We didn't give our defense a chance ... I did think Ryan (Torain) did a decent job running the football, but you've got to be able call on your passing game and have confidence that you're going to complete passes.'
ASU-OREGON POST-GAME NOTES
Terry Richardson tied a school-record for the longest kick off return as he covered 100 yards for an ASU touchdown in the third quarter. After receiving the ball two yards deep, Richardson took the ball down the left sideline to post ASU's first kickoff return for a touchdown in Sun Devil Stadium since Bruce Hill ran 96 yards against California on Nov. 8, 1986, a span of 125 home games and 403 return attempts. His run back, the longest kickoff return for a touchdown by a Sun Devil in a home game (Hill's 96-yard run was the previous best) ties Tom Pace (Dec. 1, 2001 at UCLA) and Terry Battle (Nov. 2, 1996 at Oregon State) for the longest run backs in program history. The run back also marked the third career return for a score in Richardson's career following his two punt returns during the 2005 season.
With his 125 yards accumulated on kickoff returns on the day, Richardson moved into a tie for sixth place on the single-game kickoff return yardage list with Terry Battle, who picked up 125 against UCLA in 1996. Richardson also brought his career kickoff return yardage to 1,072, placing him just 153 yards shy of equaling Chris Hopkins' (1992-95) school-record of 1,225.
TB Ryan Torain posted his second game in a row with 100+ yards of rushing as he carried the ball 19 times for 113 total yards, including a long run of 23 yards. Over the last two games, Torain has rushed 45 times for a total of 304 yards on the ground.
PK Jesse Ainsworth's 33-yard field goal in the second quarter gave him 39 for his career and moved him into a tie for third on the all-time field goal conversion list with Robert Nycz (1995-97) and Mike Richey (1989-92) before connecting on a 32-yard score to move into third place. Ainsworth is nine field goals away from tying Mike Barth (1999-02) for second while Luis Zendejas (1981-84) leads the way with 81. Ainsworth also extended his PAT streak to 116 as he connected on his only attempt during the game. His successful try in the third quarter (after Richardson's kickoff return) marked the 137th of his career, tying him for the career record with Zendejas.
The Sun Devil defense allowed their first rushing touchdown of the season when Cameron Colvin carried it three yards for the score in the second quarter. Later in the game, Jeremiah Johnson scored on a four-yard scamper to open the second half of play, marking the first time all season the Sun Devils had allowed a point scored on them in the third stanza.
The Sun Devil offense was unable to score a touchdown during the game, marking the first time that has happened since the California game on Oct. 30, 2004.
ASU-USC SERIES NOTES
USC holds a 13-9 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona State, which dates back to 1978, ASU's first year as a member of the Pac-10 Conference.
USC has won the last six meetings and seven of the last eight, including a 38-28 win last season at Sun Devil Stadium.
ASU's last win over USC was in Los Angeles in 1999 (26-16), also the last time the Sun Devils beat the Trojans.
The Sun Devils opened the all-time series winning five of the first seven against the Trojans.
DEVILS DEFENSE SHOWS IMPROVEMENT
Despite no shortage of effort and having the Pac-10 co-Defensive Player of the Year (Dale Robinson), the ASU defense endured a tough season in 2005, finishing the season ranked 114th in total defense and 86th in scoring defense.
Through five games in 2006, the unit has shown improvement under second-year defensive coordinator Bill Miller, who twice in his coaching career has been nominated for the Frank Broyles Award, which is given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
Below are some of the highlights from ASU's defense through the season's first five games:
Recorded 19 sacks, only three fewer sacks than it had (22) the entire 2005 season (12 games).
ASU's 3.8 sacks per game are tied for fourth in the nation.
Returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the first two games (junior CB Chris Baloney vs. NAU and freshman S Ryan McFoy vs. Nevada).
Colorado's 219 yards in total offense was the fifth-best defensive effort by ASU in Koetter's five-plus seasons at ASU while the Buffaloes' 86 yards passing was the third-best defensive passing effort under Koetter.
The Colorado offense failed to score a touchdown marking the first time the ASU defense has not allowed a touchdown since a 44-7 win at home against Iowa on Sept. 18, 2004. Iowa's only touchdown in that game came on a punt return.
Allowed just 53 net rushing yards to NAU, ASU's best effort since holding Stanford to 37 yards on Nov. 6, 2004. It also marked the seventh-best defensive rushing effort under Koetter.
Is allowing an average of only 7.6 points in the second half of games this season, including a total of seven points in the third quarter. In addition, opposing offenses are averaging only 138.0 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
In his first start as a Sun Devil vs. NAU, senior LB Derron Ware had four tackles for loss, including four sacks.
In his first game as a Sun Devil vs. NAU, junior CB Chris Baloney had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. Baloney added another interception against Nevada (Sept. 9) giving him two this season which currently has him No. 2 in the Pac-10.
In the second start of his career vs. Nevada, true freshman S Ryan McFoy collected a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, a 15-yard quarterback sack, a pass breakup and five tackles.
Has allowed only two rushing touchdowns in 2006.
CARPENTER GETS THE CALL
Sophomore Rudy Carpenter is in the midst of his first full season as ASU's starting quarterback after being forced into duty midway through last season.
Despite not starting until the eighth game of the 2005 season, Carpenter finished the year ranked first in the nation with a school record 175.01 passer efficiency rating while also ranking third nationally in completion percentage (68.4). He also threw for a team-high and school freshman record 2,273 yards to go along with 17 touchdown passes. In addition, he achieved a nation-leading and team record-low interception percentage (.008), after throwing two interceptions out of 228 total passing attempts. He capped-off his phenomenal rookie campaign by earning Offensive Player of the Game honors for his role in ASU's victory against Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl. In that game, Carpenter accounted for ASU individual bowl game records of 467 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
Currently 7-3 as a starter, Carpenter passed for 333 yards and a career-best five touchdown passes (to five different receivers) in ASU's 52-21 win over Nevada (Sept. 9).
MILLER AMONG NATION'S ELITE TIGHT ENDS
Through five games in 2006, junior All-America TE Zach Miller has continued to prove why he is regarded as one of the top players in the country at his position. Miller currently leads the Sun Devils in receptions (17) and receiving yards (167) and is tied for first on the team with two touchdown receptions.
After a little more than two seasons Miller, who was named to the 2006 John Mackey Award Watch List, is at or near the top of the career standards for ASU tight ends in touchdown receptions (12, first), receptions (111, second) and receiving yards (1,195, fourth). His 98 catches in 2004-05 were more than any other tight end in the nation the last two seasons while his receiving yardage and touchdown totals were also the second-most in the nation at his position during that same duration.
According to his head coach, it is not only his ability as a receiver that makes him such a special player.
'In my opinion, Zach Miller is one of the best blocking tight ends in the nation,' Koetter said. 'He gets a ton of credit for his acrobatic catches, but when you watch cut-ups you see what a tremendous blocker he is.'
After his freshman season, Miller earned second-team All-America honors, just one of four freshmen to earn first team or second-team All-American accolades that season. Miller also earned first-team Freshman All-American accolades for his successful 2004 season. In 2004, he was named the Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, becoming just the second Sun Devil to earn the honor (Terrell Suggs, 2000).
As a freshman, Miller broke the ASU record for receptions in a season by a tight end with 56. His 56 receptions in 2004 tied for the most receptions in the NCAA by a tight end. Along with his 56 receptions, he tallied 552 receiving yards and six touchdowns. In 2005, Miller missed some time with an injury and still managed the team's third-highest amount of receptions with 38, four of which were touchdowns. He also recorded 476 receiving yards for an average of 12.5 yards per reception.
Already the school record holder for most touchdowns by a tight end (12), Miller needs five receptions and 491 receiving yards to become the school's career leader for a tight end in each of the aforementioned categories.
COVERING A LOT OF TORAIN
Junior college transfer TB Ryan Torain has proven to be one of the best additions to the Sun Devils offense in 2006. After demonstrating his ability to be a steady contributor in the season's first three games, Torain had a breakout performance at California (Sept. 23), when he rushed for a career-best 191 yards (Sept 23). Many of Torain's yards against the Golden Bears were earned after initial contact with Cal's defenders as he broke numerous tackles throughout the game. One week later against the Oregon Ducks (Sept. 30), Torain led the Sun Devils with 113 yards rushing on 19 carries. It was the third time this season that Torain has led the Sun Devils in rushing.
Through five games, Torain leads the Sun Devils in rushing with 467 yards and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 averaging 93.4 yards per game. He has seven carries of 15 yards or more, including a team-high 40-yard run vs. Nevada (Sept. 9).
When a team ranks third in the country in passing offense (as ASU did last year) it would not be hard to understand why its running game, no matter how solid, might be overlooked. Last season the Sun Devils averaged 145.7 yards per game, their highest average since head coach Dirk Koetter's first year at ASU in 2001. Through five games this season the Sun Devils are averaging 172.8 yards rushing per game. To put that number in perspective, if the Sun Devils were to keep up that pace, it would be the first time since 2001 that they averaged more than 150 yards on the ground.
ASU has no shortage of talent in its backfield, which includes sophomore Keegan Herring, who led the team in rushing last season with 870 yards; sophomore Shaun DeWitty, a 6-2, 215-pound back who had a solid spring for ASU; junior college transfer Ryan Torain, who rushed for more than 800 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore at Butler (Kan.) CC despite missing four games with an injury; and freshman Dimitri Nance, who ran up career totals of 3,173 yards and 41 touchdowns during his high school career.
The aforementioned quartet of running backs combined for 142 yards rushing (5.1 per-carry average) in ASU's season-opening victory over Northern Arizona (Aug. 31). Nance led the way with 61 yards and one score. The following week against Nevada (Sept. 9), Torain led ASU's rushing attack with 70 yards on only eight carries (8.8-yard average). Torain's night included a 15-yard TD run in addition to a 40-yard scamper, the longest rush by an ASU player in 2006. In addition to Torain's success, DeWitty tallied a touchdown reception for the second consecutive week, this one a 22-yard strike from QB Rudy Carpenter.
At Colorado (Sept. 16), the Sun Devils rushed for 182 yards, the 10th-best rushing performance under Koetter and the second-best on the road. Herring (82 yards) and Torain (80 yards) combined for 162 of ASU's yards against the Buffaloes, who came into the game No. 6 in the NCAA in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (32.5) and No. 4 in the country in per-carry average (0.9). ASU averaged 4.0 yards per carry at Colorado.
At California, the Sun Devils had their best ever rushing performance on the road under Koetter as they gained 237 yards, including a career-best 191 yards from Torain. ASU ran for 142 yards in its most recent outing vs. Oregon (Sept. 30). Torain once again paced the backfield with 113 yards on 19 carries.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS FOR T-RICH
During his Sun Devil career, senior WR/KR/PR Terry Richardson has proven to be one of ASU's biggest threats for a big play anytime he touches the football, particularly when he is bringing back punts and kickoffs.
In his most recent outing Richardson became the first Sun Devil to return a kickoff for a touchdown in Sun Devil Stadium since 1986 when he tied a school record with a 100-yard return vs. Oregon. It was his third touchdown on a return the last two seasons after scoring on a pair of punt returns in 2005. The return propelled him to No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 4 in the country in kickoff returns (35.25 yard average). Richardson is also ranked No. 4 in the Pac-10 and No. 19 in the country in punt returns, averaging 12.29 yards per return.
Richardson, who earned Second Team All-America honors last season from SI.com, was named the US Bank Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in last season's game against USC. His 84-yard punt return for a TD in the first quarter against the Trojans (10/1) marked the first by a Sun Devil since current St. Louis Ram Shaun McDonald had a 78-yarder against USC on Nov. 4, 2000. It was the 10th-longest punt return in school history (9th-longest for a TD) and the longest by a Sun Devil since Eric Guliford had an 89-yarder against California in 1992.
In the last regular season game of 2005 Richardson would deliver again with a momentum-turning return of 71 yards against Arizona for a touchdown that tied the game in the fourth quarter. It made him the sixth Sun Devil overall and first since Ron Washington (1977) to return a pair of kicks for touchdowns in a season.
Richardson ended last season No. 2 in the Pac-10 and No. 7 in the nation with an average of 15.3 yards per punt return while also sitting third in the Pac-10 and No. 15 in the nation with an average of 27.4 yards on kickoff returns. Both his punt (337 yards) and kick return (629) yardage totals for the season were good enough to make into the top five of the school's all-time single-season annals. On offense, Richardson finished fourth on the team with 37 catches for 495 yards (13.4 avg.) and five touchdowns.
JUST FOR KICKS
In his three-plus seasons Jesse Ainsworth has made it a habit of being nearly perfect on PAT attempts, missing just three times in 140 tries. [Dating back to the final game of the 2003 season when he connected on 4-of-4 PATs to start his current streak of 116 in a row, a school record.]
Ainsworth, who was a perfect 53-of-53 last season after going 40-of-40 in 2004, moved past former program record holder Luis Zendejas, who netted 75 from 1981-83. Ainsworth tied Zendejas' mark when he connected on a try following ASU's first touchdown against Oregon last season, a 20-yard touchdown reception by Derek Hagan in the first quarter. In the third stanza, Ainsworth hit home the record-breaking 76th PAT in a row. Ainsworth's 53 PATs last season put him fourth in ASU's record books for the most PATs made in a single season.
Ainsworth's 40 field goals are third-most in a Sun Devil career and he needs 10 more to move into second place. He also is just the sixth kicker in school annals to score 200 or more points as his 257 points are 21 points behind Mike Barth (1999-2002) for second on the list.
ASU TO HONOR `86 & `96 ROSE BOWL TEAMS
Scheduled in conjunction with ASU's football game against Washington State University at Sun Devil Stadium on November 11, ASU will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1986 Rose Bowl team and the 10th anniversary of the 1996 Rose Bowl team. Former Sun Devil head football coaches John Cooper (1986) and Bruce Snyder (1996) have been contacted and have committed to attend the weekend's festivities.
The 1986 Sun Devils captured the Pac-10 title and culminated their season with a 22-15 victory over Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl. It was the first Rose Bowl appearance in ASU history. The team would finish its season with a 10-1-1 record.
The 1996 Sun Devils had an undefeated regular season before falling to Ohio State in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Highlights of the year included shutting out top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Nebraska 19-0 on Sept. 21, 1996 and overcoming a three-touchdown deficit to beat UCLA on the road.
ESPN2 & ESPNU TO SHOWCASE 1997 ROSE BOWL
ASU's epic showdown with The Ohio State University in the 1997 Rose Bowl has been selected by ESPN2 and ESPNU to be a part of its new original series ESPNU Honor Roll: College Football's Top 10. The series will be hosted by ESPN's Rece Davis from the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., and will count down college football categories, such as Honor Roll: Greatest Quarterbacks and Honor Roll: Greatest Rivalries.
The Jan. 1, 1997 matchup pitting the No. 2, Pacific-10 Conference Champion Sun Devils against the No. 4 Buckeyes will be showcased among the Honor Roll: College Football's Greatest Bowl Games edition of the series, to air Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Each episode of the series will rank the top picks from 10 to one, and each of the Top 10 lists were determined through a combination of fan votes and ESPN college football experts' opinions.
The Sun Devils return home to face the Stanford Cardinal in the annual Homecoming game (Sat., Oct. 21). Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
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