Sun Devil Football Opens Pac-12 Play at Home vs. Colorado
THE GAME - The Sun Devil Football program returns home this weekend looking to shake off its first loss of the year as it hosts the Colorado Buffaloes in both teams' Pac-12 Opener this Saturday, Sept. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 AZT kickoff and will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU (Mike Corey and Tom Ramsey on the call) and available over the airwaves locally on 620 AM/98.7 FM HD-2 (Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Jordan Simone, Jeff Munn).
THE BUFFALOES/PAC-12 OPENERS - This will be the second straight normal season ASU has taken on Colorado to kickoff Pac-12 play (L, 31-34 in 2019). While ASU is 8-3 in the all-time series against Colorado, the Buffaloes have won three of the last four. The Sun Devils have a penchant for putting up big numbers over Colorado, averaging 36.5 points per game in the series with just three games coming under the 30-point mark.
ASU is 17-23-2 all-time in Pac-12 Openers overall, though it is 26-15-1 all-time in its first Pac-12 HOME game of the year.
- ASU's secondary has combined for 135 career starts, a total that is second in the nation behind only Indiana. The group is led by Chase Lucas' 42 career starts, who needs six more starts this season to break the Sun Devil school record currently held by Dexter Davis (47).
- ASU has 25 rushing touchdowns in its last 6 games - the most of any FBS team over their most recent six-game stretch ahead of Buffalo (21).
- ASU has forced 40 turnovers in its last 14 games dating back to 2019, good for the most in the nation over an 14-game span and six more than any other team over that 14-game span (Iowa, 34).
- ASU has held three straight opponents under 400 total yards of offense, the first time it did so since holding three straight under 300 yards in 2014 (Stanford, @Washington, Utah). ASU held five straight opponents under 400 total yards of offense in 2013 (COLO, UW, @WSU, @UTAH, OSU).
- The Sun Devils rank 27th in the FBS in average starting field position (31.1 yard line) while holding the opposition to the 19th-worst position (24.5 yard line).
- The Sun Devil secondary has forced 12 "coverage sacks" (plays where the opposing QB had to hold the ball for 3.0 plus seconds or throw it away), good for 10th-most in the nation.
- ASU has rushed for 150 or more yards in eight straight games dating back to 2019. It is the longest such streak since a 12-game span between 1975-76.
AN ASU VICTORY WOULD...
- Move the Sun Devils to 26-15-1 all-time in the team's first HOME Pac-12 game
- Improve ASU to 18-23-2 all-time in Pac-12 openers (overall)
- Make ASU 9-3 in the all-time series over Colorado
- Be the first time ASU started Pac-12 play 1-0 under Herm Edwards
- 33 passing/rushing yards by Jayden Daniels to reach 5,000 in his career (Currently at 4,967)
- 2.0 tackles for loss by Tyler Johnson to reach 25 in his career (Currently at 23.0)
- 6.5 sacks by Tyler Johnson to move into the Top-10 in ASU career history (needs 19.0, currently at 12.5)
- 6 starts by Chase Lucas to become ASU's all-time leader in career starts (needs 48, currently at 42)
- 4 tackles by Chase Lucas to reach 200 in his career (currently at 196)
- 5 tackles by Darien Butler to reach 200 in his career (currently at 195)
- 15 tackles by Evan Fields to reach 200 in his career (currently at 185)
BY THE NUMBERS
135 - ASU's secondary has combined for 135 career starts, a total that is second in the nation behind only Indiana (150). The group is led by Chase Lucas' 42 career starts, who needs six to break the Sun Devil school record currently held by Dexter Davis (47). Since 2018, that secondary has allowed just 5 passing plays over 50 yards (none last year or this year so far). The Sun Devil secondary has forced 12 "coverage sacks" (plays where the opposing QB has to hold the ball for 3.0 plus seconds and/or throw it away), good for 10th-most in the nation.
46 - Since the start of last season, the Sun Devil defensive line has forced a quarterback pressure on 46.7 percent of opponent passing plays - the second-highest in the FBS in that span. This feat is made more impressive considering ASU has blitzed just 19.2 percent of snaps in that time - ninth fewest nationally .Since last season, ASU's defensive line has recorded 33 tackles for loss or tackles for no gain - second in the Pac-12 (Colorado, 35), despite playing the fewest games in the league in that time. The defensive line has forced 61 pressures so far this season, good for fourth in the Pac-12.
40 - ASU has forced 40 turnovers in its last 14 games dating back to 2019, good for the most in the nation over an 14-game span. In fact, even without a takeaway against UNLV, ASU still has six more over 14 games than second-place Iowa. ASU has multiple takeaways in 11 of those (and three or more in six of them). ASU has 45 takeaways overall since 2019, 10th among Power Five teams despite playing significantly fewer games than most schools in 2020. ASU has outscored opponents 792-403 since 2012 on points of turnovers, scoring 63.9 percent of the time after a takeaway.
23 - ASU has held opponents to less than 30 points in 23 of 33 games under Herm Edwards, notable as it DID allow 30+ in 32 of 43 previous games dating back in a span from 2013-17. The Sun Devils have allowed just 93 offensive touchdowns (2.8 per game/33 games) since Herm Edwards assumed the reins in 2018 - 15th-fewest among FBS programs. For reference, ASU gave up 109 offensive touchdowns alone between 2016 and 2017 (4.4 per game/25 games).The Sun Devils have held their opponents under 400 yards of total offense in three straight games for the first time since 2014 (STAN, @WSU, UTAH). It had five straight games with the feat in 2013.
7 - ASU has allowed just seven plays over 50 yards to opponents since the 2018 season over 33 games. The .21 50+ yard plays per game allowed are second-fewest in the FBS in that time behind only Washington (.12 percent on 4 plays over 34 games). ASU ranked in the bottom 10 nationally in 50+ yards played allowed each year from 2014-17. .Since 2018, ASU has allowed just 46 30-yard plays (1.4 per game/33 games)). For perspective, from 2014-17, ASU gave up 38, 44, 40, 40 such plays, respectively ranked 116th, 124th, 117th and 119th. ASU is one of just 10 remaining FBS teams to not allow a play over 40 yards thus year.
1 - ASU's offensive line has allowed a pressure on just 15.7 percent of quarterback dropbacks this year, the lowest total in the FBS. All told, the ASU offensive line has allowed just 14 quarterback pressures this year - eight fewer than any other Pac-12 school and 10th-fewest in the FBS (though triple option offenses Army and Air Force rank first and ninth). The team has a 84.8 percent score as a pass-blocking unit, nearly 10-points higher than any other Pac-12 school and fourth in the FBS. ASU's offensive line has allowed just 228 combined quarterback pressures by opponents since 2019 - 7th-fewest among Power Five schools.
- Jayden Daniels is currently the 7th-highest graded offensive player in the Pac-12 this season (80.1) and third among quarterbacks.
- Daniels is 20th in the FBS since 2019 in fourth quarter passing yards (1,030) while his 10 touchdown passes in the final frame are tied for 10th.
- Daniels has an NFL passer rating of 115.6 in the fourth quarter of games, third-highest among FBS quarterbacks since 2019.
- Since 2019, Daniels is fifth in the FBS in yards per pass attempt with 11+ yards to go at 11.3 ypa while he is second in yards per completion in the category (17.8 on 894 yards and 50 catches). His NFL passer rating with over 11+ yards to go since 2019 is 122.0, second in the nation.
- His 953 rushing yards overall (sacks excluded) are 17th among active quarterbacks and his 6.2 yards per rush are 14th.
- Daniels rushed for 125 yards against UNLV, his second career 100+ yard game and the fourth-most by a quarterback in program history (he also holds the fifth-best tally with 111 at USC last year).
- Daniels has picked up a first down with his feet on third down 54.8 percent of the time - 13th among FBS running backs since 2019.
- Among players with at least 400 passing attempts since 2019, Jayden Daniels ranks fourth in fewest interceptions with just six on 494 attempts (1.2 percent of his throws).
- Daniels has thrown just one interception on third down in his career, tied for third-fewest in the FBS since 2019 (min. 75 attempts). The interception didn't come until the 19th game of his career (BYU this season).
- Since 2019, Daniels is third among FBS quarterbacks in yards per attempt on third down at 9.3 (1,149 yards on 123 attempts).
- Among Power Five quarterbacks with at least 75 third-down attempts since 2019, Daniels is 15th with an NFL quarterback rating of 100.6.
- ASU's 25 rushing touchdowns over its last six games are the most in the FBS over a six-game span ahead of Buffalo (18).
- ASU has gone over the 200-yard mark on the ground in six of its last nine games dating back to 2019. The Maroon & Gold are averaging 248.0 yards rushing over their past seven games.
- ASU has eight-straight games dating back to 2019 with over 150 rushing yards. It is the longest such streak since a 12-game run over 150 yards over the final nine games of 1975 and first three of 1976.
- ASU is 18th nationally and first in the Pac-12 with 226.3 rushing yards per game this season.
- ASU led the Pac-12 and was seventh nationally in averaging 264.2 rushing yards per game last season. It was the highest single-season tally at ASU since the 1981 team posted 266.6 yards per game on the ground.
- ASU's success this season has come in large part by its receivers grinding on the outside with the trio of Andre Johnson, Johnny Wilson and Ricky Pearsall ranking as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd highest-graded receivers in the Pac-12 as run blockers and 1st, 2nd and 14th among FBS receivers overall.
- Starting with 1996 season, ASU's 22 rushing touchdowns in the last two games of 2020 and first two of 2021 were the most by any Pac-12 team over a four-game stretch (Oregon, 21, 2013). In fact, it is the fourth-most by any FBS team in that span (Nebraska 25, 27, 24, 23 at points in the 1997 season; Georgia Tech, 25 from 2014-15 and Georgia Tech again, 24 in 2018). ASU's 19 rushing touchdowns between the final two games last season and first of this year were the second in the FBS overall since 1996 over a three-game stretch next to the Nebraska team.
THE PRICE IS WHITE
- Rachaad White has a rushing touchdown in five straight games dating back to last season and has multiple in four of those. His five rushing touchdowns this season are ninth in the country
- White is the highest-graded running back in the Pac-12 this season (75.1) and the 23rd-highest graded one in the FBS.
- He is also the second-highest graded running back in the league as a receiver (74.6) and ninth-highest graded in the category nationally among backs. His 15 targets in the run game are five more than any other Pac-12 player and seventh among running backs nationally. His 14 receptions are six more than any other Pac-12 back and sixth among FBS running backs.
- White has rushed for 15 first downs this season, second among Pac-12 backs
- A credit to his smooth cuts and the big men in front of him, 58.0 percent of White's rushing yards came before contact last season. He averaged 5.8 yards per rush without being touched on the year - tops in the nation and 3.0 more yards than any other player in the league
- White led the nation in averaging 10.0 yards per rush (420 yards on 42 attempts) while he was 14th nationally in all-purpose yards per game (151.0). He was second among Pac-12 running backs with 151 receiving yards and caught all eight of his targets.
GOING OFF THE RAILS ON A CRAZY TRAYANUM
- DeaMonte Trayanum was the highest-graded running back in the Pac-12 in Week One, posting an overall offensive score of 86.1.
- Trayanum was the highest-graded running back in the Pac-12 last season by PFF with a score of 87.6 - 4.4 points higher than any other back in the league. White was fourth in the Pac-12 with a score of 82.5.
- Against UCLA, Chip Trayanum became the first true freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since Demario Richard in 2014 (14 for 116 vs. Utah - the 8th game of the year). In doing so in just his second game as a Sun Devil, he became the fastest freshman to have a 100-yard game since Keegan Herring rushed for 134 yards on 12 carries in his debut in the season opener for ASU
- Trayanum averaged a first down or touchdown on 36.7 percent of his carries last season, tops in the league just ahead of his teammate, White (35.7).
IN-NGATA DA VIDA
- Not to be lost in the shuffle of ASU's dynamic 1-2 punch, redshirt freshman Daniyel Ngata has quietly put up the Pac-12's fourth-highest grade among running backs with at least 40 snaps (77.9).
- Ngata has just 46 snaps on the year, of which 20 have been recognized as "key snaps" by PFF, notable as the 14 players with more in the category in the Pac-12 have between 56-136 offensive snaps.
- Ngata has registered 12 first downs/touchdowns rushing on 25 attempts this season, a 48.0 first down/TD percentage rate that is eight points higher than any player in the league and 15 points higher than teammate Rachaad White (33.3) - who is a respectable fifth in the Pac-12 in the category.
- Among all FBS backs with at least 25 carries, that 48.0 percentage is fourth in the nation and second in the Power Five (Auburn's Jarquez Hunter at 50.0 percent).
- Ngata's success has come from his incredible ability to hit the holes with a great dash of speed, as 64.5 percent of his total yards have before he is even touched - the second-highest tally in the league (Stanford's Austin Jones at 65.3).
- Ngata has averaged 4.7 yards per rush before contact this year, the most in the Pac-12.
HOLD ON TO YOUR SEATS
- Arizona State has played in 11 total games decided by four points or less in the Herm Edwards era (since 2018), which is tied for fifth in the FBS in that time behind Kansas State (13), Iowa State (12), TCU (12) and North Carolina (12).
- ASU has seven wins in games decided by four points or less (7-4 record), tied for second behind Nevada (8) for the most wins by four points or fewer since 2018.
- The Sun Devils have played in 19 games decided by a touchdown or less since 2018, going 9-10 in that time. The 19 games are fourth behind Texas (21), Oklahoma State (20) and North Carolina (20) for the most in the country in that span.
A HAND IN THE COOKIE JAR
- ASU has forced 40 turnovers in its last 43 games dating back to 2019, good for the most in the nation over an 14-game span. In fact, even despite not having a takeaway against UNLV, the next closest team (Iowa) has just 34. ASU has multiple takeaways in 11 of those (and three or more in six of them).
- ASU has forced 45 offensive turnovers overall since 2019, 10th among all FBS teams despite playing significantly fewer games than most schools in 2020.
- The Devils were tops in the country in turnover margin last season at 2.00. ASU was 6th nationally in turnover margin in 2019 (1.08).
- ASU (11th in 2018) is one of just two teams nationally to rank in the Top-25 in turnover margin in each of the last three seasons (Georgia Southern) and only ASU was in the top-15 in each of those seasons.
- The Sun Devil defense has forced a fumble 38 times on 1,426 plays run against it since 2019. The 2.7 fumble percentage is the most of any Power Five school in that time.
- ASU forced a turnover on four of Southern Utah's 11 drives in the opener (36.4 percent). ASU forced an opponent turnover on 25.0 percent of drives last season, tops in the country. ASU forced a turnover on 17.5 percent of opponent possessions in 2019, good for 4th nationally.
- ASU has outscored opponents 792-403 in points off takeaways since 2012.
- Since 2012, ASU has scored 63.9 percent of the time following an opponent turnover (133 of 208) while finding the end zone 98 times in that span (47.1 percent).
- Conversely, opponents have scored just 47.8 percent of the time following an ASU turnover since 2012 (68 of 142) with 52 touchdowns (36.6 percent).
- ASU turned the ball over five times last year, seventh nationally. The Devils turned the ball over just 14 times in 2019 - the 20th-lowest total in the FBS.
- ASU is one of just three teams to rank in the Top-25 in fewest interceptions thrown in each of the last three seasons, alongside triple-option offenses from Air Force and Navy.
LOCKING IT DOWN
- ASU is one of 10 remaining FBS teams to not allow an opponent play over 40 yards this year. The team has the 17th-fewest 20+ yard plays allowed (8) and 13th-fewest 30+ yard plays (3).
- The Sun Devils have forced a three-and-out on 14 of opponents 33 drives this season (42.4 percent).
- The Sun Devils have held their opponents under 400 yards of total offense in three straight games for the first time since 2014 (STAN, @WSU, UTAH). It had five straight games with the feat in 2013.
- ASU has allowed just seven plays over 50 yards to opponents since the 2018 season over 33 games. The .21 50+ yard plays per game allowed are second-fewest in the FBS in that time behind only Washington (.12 percent on 4 plays over 34 games). ASU ranked in the bottom 10 nationally in 50+ yards played allowed each year from 2014-17.
- ASU is one of just seven teams in the country to rank in the Top-35 in fewest plays over 30 yards allowed in EACH of the last three seasons (Cal, Washington, Utah, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern).
- Since 2018, ASU has allowed just 46 30-yard plays (1.4 per game/33 games)). For perspective, from 2014-17, ASU gave up 38, 44, 40, 40 such plays, respectively ranked 116th, 124th, 117th and 119th.
- In the last three-plus seasons combined, the Sun Devil secondary has allowed just 16 total passing plays over 40 yards. For perspective, it had 12 alone in 2017, 22 in 2016 and 24 in 2015 – the latter two ranked second to last and last, respectively, in the nation.
KEEP 'EM OFF THE BOARD
- ASU shut out UNLV in the second half, the first time it held an opponent scoreless in the second half since doing so against Washington on Nov. 14, 2015.
- The Sun Devils have allowed just 93 offensive touchdowns (2.8 per game/33 games) since Herm Edwards assumed the reins in 2018 - 15th-fewest among FBS programs. For reference, ASU gave up 109 offensive touchdowns alone between 2016 and 2017 (4.4 per game/25 games).
- ASU has held opponents to less than 30 points in 23 of 33 games under Herm Edwards, notable as it DID allow 30+ in 32 of 43 previous games dating back to a span from 2013-17.
- Last season, ASU was first in the Pac-12 in allowing just 23.2 points per game (32nd nationally). In 2019, ASU was 35th in the country, allowing 22.4 points per game. The Sun Devils allowed just 25.5 points per game in 2018, good for 53rd nationally. These totals are notable as ASU was 103rd nationally at 32.8 points per game allowed in 2017 and had finished 99th or worse in three consecutive seasons prior to the marked improvement the past three seasons.
- Since 2019, ASU has allowed a a second half touchdown on just 19.8 percent of drives (25 of 126) - the 18th-fewest in the FBS.
THE NEXT LEVEL
- The Sun Devil secondary has forced 12 "coverage sacks" (plays where the opposing QB has to hold the ball for 3.0 plus seconds and/or throw it away), good for 10th-most in the nation.
- Opponents have an NFL quarterback rating of just 59.5 this season - 14th-lowest in the nation.
- ASU is 14th in the nation in allowing just 143.3 passing yards per game.
- ASU's coverage has a forced incompletion percentage of 13.3 percent - 10th in the nation
- Since 2020, ASU has allowed an explosive passing play (15+ yards) just 11.2 percent of the time (31 on 277 attempts) - the 15th-lowest tally in the FBS.
THRILL OF THE CHASE
- Chase Lucas has 42 career starts, needing just six to break Dexter Davis' school record of 47.
- Lucas was the highest graded corner in the Pac-12 in coverage last season with a grade of 84.7 and the 16th-highest graded corner in the nation. He is the 5th highest graded corner in the Pac-12 thus far this season.
- He allowed just 109 yards in coverage, seventh fewest in the Pac-12 while his 7.8 yards allowed per catch were third in the league and only allowed five first downs, fourth fewest in the league and forced five incompletions - good for third in the league.
- Lucas allowed a first down or touchdown just 31.8 percent of the time, seventh-lowest in the Pac-12, and allowed just one player over 15 yards, second-lowest in the league.
- Among players with at least 250 defensive snaps, Lucas was the fifth-highest graded defensive player in the Pac-12, regardless of position, with a score of 81.4 from Pro Football Focus. He was the highest-rated cornerback in the league.
- Lucas recorded a score of 84.8 in pass coverage for the season, the highest for a cornerback in the league and the second-highest of any defensive player.
- He was the sixth-highest graded cornerback in the nation in pass coverage and the 12th-highest graded cornerback in the country overall.
- Lucas forced an incompletion on 27.3 percent of the passes thrown his way, the ninth-best tally among corners nationally.
- He was targeted just 22 times on the season despite playing over 90 percent of the team's defensive snaps, allowing just 14 catches.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
- Jack Jones is currently the highest-graded corner in the Pac-12 (80.5) and 10th-highest graded corner in the nation.
- Opponent quarterbacks have just a 33.3 NFL QB rating when targetting Jones this season - the fourth lowest total among Pac-12 corners (min. 50 snaps in coverage).
- Jones has been targetted on just 10 of his 83 snaps in coverage, a 12.0 target percentage that is sixth-lowest among the league's corners.
- Jones has allowed just two first downs in coverage on the year, also good for the sixth-lowest tally in the league.
IN THE TRENCHES
- Ladarius Henderson and Kellen Diesch are tied for sixth among offensive linement in the nation with only one QB pressure allowed on the year. Dohnovan West is fourth among Pac-12 center with just two QB pressures allowed while Henry Hattis and Ben Scott are tied for 16th among all Pac-12 linemen with just three.
- All told, the ASU offensive line has allowed just 14 quarterback pressures this year - eight fewer than any other Pac-12 school and 10th-fewest in the FBS (though triple option offenses Army and Air Force rank first and ninth).
- The line has allowed a pressure on just 15.7 percent of quarterback dropbacks this year, the lowest total in the FBS.
- The team has a 84.8 percent score as a pass-blocking unit, nearly 10-points higher than any other Pac-12 school and fourth in the FBS
- ASU's offensive line has allowed just 228 combined quarterback pressures by opponents since 2019 - 7th-fewest among Power Five schools. This is made more impressive by the fact ASU has faced a blitz 36.8 percent of the time in that period - 12th-most among the Power Five.
- Kellen Diesch is currently the second highest-graded offensive player in the Pac-12 (87.5) and the 9th-highest graded tackle in the FBS.
- DohnovanWest was named a 2021 PFF Preseason All-America pick by Pro Football Focus, a 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team Selection and is ranked as the 2021 No. 5 Lindy's Preseason Center.
- West was the 7th-highest graded guard in the Power Five last season, according to PFF (76.7) and tops among Pac-12 guards
- Kellen Diesch was the 18th highest-graded tackle in among Power Five schools last year, according to PFF and second in the Pac-12 with a score of 81.3 (just behind the 14th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Alijah Vera-Tucker of USC (81.8). He is the highest graded returning tackle in the league.
- Diesch had the 22nd-best pass blocking grade in the Power Five (78.9), second in the league behind Vera-Tucker.
HOLD THE LINE
- Since the start of last season, the Sun Devil defensive line has forced a quarterback pressure on 46.7 percent of opponent passing plays - the second-highest in the FBS in that span. This feat is made more impressive considering ASU has blitzed just 19.2 percent of snaps in that time - ninth-fewest nationally.
- Since last season, ASU's defensive line has recorded 33 tackles for loss or tackles for no gain - second in the Pac-12 (Colorado, 35), despite playing the fewest games in the league in that time.
- The group tallied 70 total quarterback pressures last year, sixth in the league but a 17.5 pressure per game average along the line that was easily tops in the league.
- D.J. Davidson is the Pac-12's highest graded interior lineman in run defense this year (84.3) and fifth among interior linemen in the nation.
- Davidson is credited with nine defensive "stops" on run defense, good for third among FBS interior linemen.
- Tyler Johnson is ASU's active leader in tackles for loss (23.0) and sacks (12.5). Last year, he led the team with 5.0 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss, good for fourth in the Pac-12, respectively
- Johnson was the ninth-highest graded edge defender in the Pac-12 last season as a pass rusher (70.3).
- Johnson's 19 quarterback hurries were fourth in the league among edge defenders. He generated pressure on 21.3 percent of his pass snaps, second most in the league and sixth-most nationally.
- Johnson (78.4) and Michael Matus (78.1) are the sixth and seventh-highest graded edge defenders in the Pac-12 this year (min. 50 snaps). The duo has been especially effective in run defense, grading out foruth and fifth among the league's edge defenders this year.
- Matus has recorded seven "stops" on run defense, good for fourth among Pac-12 edge defenders.
GO DJ, THAT'S MY DJ
- Redshirt freshman defensive back D.J. Taylor picked up right where he left off last season. Taylor is fifth in the nation with 127 punt return yards - and that comes despite missing a game this year.
- Taylor's presence has led to some incredible field position for ASU, even when he doesn't record a return due to teams kicking away from him or to other players. On special teams plays with Taylor on the field (six kickoffs, 12 punts, ASU's average starting field position is its own 34.6 yard line.
- His efforts garnered him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week in Week One. He went over 100 all-purpose yards for the third time in five games as a Sun Devil in that game. Not only did he collect 55 kick return yards, he added 87 punt return yards, the highest total by anyone player in the nation during week one. He only needed three attempts to collect those 87 yards, averaging 29 yards per return. Taylor's 47-yard punt return is the longest of any player in the conference this season.
- Taylor was the highest-graded player in the entire country on punt plays in Week One (83.6) according to PFF. The 83.6 rating was actually 10 points higher than any other player nationally. His elusiveness was on full display, as he forced three missed tackles despite only touching the ball five times.
- D.J. Taylor was the highest-graded kick returner in the Pac-12 with a grade of 81.1 from Pro Football Focus last season – good for 12th nationally. Despite his knack for success on returns, he was actually the fourth-highest graded player on kickoff coverage in the Pac-12 as well – with a score of 77.7..
- Taylor averaged 36.9 total yards per kick return attempt (including yardage on kicks taken out of the end zone), which was seven yards per return more than any other player in the Pac-12 and fourth among any player in the FBS with at least five kickoff returns.
- His 107 total yards on his touchdown against Arizona was the longest of any player in the FBS last season, according to PFF. Taylor took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in the Territorial Cup, the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat against Arizona.
- He was credited with at least one tackle in three of the four games last season on the return coverage unit.
MIDDLE OF THE LINEUP
- Darien Butler and Kyle Soelle are the 2nd and 3rd highest graded linebackers overall in the Pac-12.
- Soelle is the league's highest graded linebacker and third overall in run defense this year (86.4), good for sixth among all FBS linebackers.
- Soelle and Butler are the second and third highest graded linebackers in the league as pass rushers as well.
- Butler (85.7) remains the league's highest graded linebacker in coverage and sixth among all FBS linebackers.
- The duo lead the team in tackles this season (Butler at 20 and Soelle at 19), accounting for 24.2 of ASU's total tackles on the year.
- Butler has 11 defensive stops on the year, good for fifth among the league's backers.
- Soelle is credited with just one missed tackle, tops among Pac-12 linebackers this year.