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Football opens Pac-10 slate by hosting Stanford

September 03, 2008

 NOTES: Game 2 - Stanford (pdf)
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Date: Saturday, September 6, 2008
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. MT
Site: Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium (71,706) - Tempe, Ariz.
Television: FSN Arizona
   Play-by-Play: Trey Bender
   Color: Former ASU All-American Juan Roque
   Sideline: Jody Jackson
Sun Devil Radio: 620 KTAR AM
   Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
   Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst
   Sideline: Amy Bender
USA Radio National Broadcast
   Play-by-Play: Tom Dillon
   Color: Tony Graziani
   Sideline: Mike Martinez


• Senior Rudy Carpenter is putting his name in the Sun Devil record books, climbing the charts in several significant passing categories
• Carpenter tied a school record for consecutive completions against NAU with 13
• Senior Mike Jones returns from a summer of Minor League Baseball to improve on his 10-touchdown campaign in 2007
• Arizona State has now won 10-consecutive season openers at home
• Seven members of the team have already earned their undergraduate degrees
• The Sun Devils were picked to finish second in the Pac-10 in the annual West Coast Media Poll. USC was picked to win the conference the seventh year in a row.


TEMPE Ariz. - Coming off a 30-13 victory against NAU last week, Arizona State looks to start the Pac-10 portion of its schedule on right as it hosts Stanford on Saturday night, Sept. 6 at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium. Stanford beat Oregon State 36-28 last week in Palo Alto. Rudy Carpenter threw for 388 yards and a touchdown to lead Arizona State to the opening night victory. Dimitri Nance added two rushing touchdowns, Mike Jones topped the 100-yard receiving mark and Dexter Davis added two sacks for the Sun Devils.

ASU is celebrating 50 years at Sun Devil Stadium, home stadium of the Arizona State University football team. The Sun Devils have a 243-84-3 record at Sun Devil Stadium, including a 7-1 mark in 2007. In 1996, the playing field was named Frank Kush Field, after the legendary Sun Devil coach. Sun Devil Stadium has played host to 35 Fiesta Bowls, two Insight Bowls and Super Bowl XXX. Over 16 million fans have seen the Sun Devils play at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on their 10-station radio network, including flagship station Sports 620 KTAR AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play) and former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) will call the action. The Stanford game can be heard on 620 KTAR AM. The game will also be broadcast nationally on USA Radio, with Tom Dillon and Tony Graziani calling the game. Mike Martinez will handle sideline duties.

FSN Arizona will televise the Sun Devils match-up with the Cardinal. Trey Bender and former ASU All-American Juan Roque will call the action from the booth while Jody Jackson handles the sideline duties.

Arizona State is 11-17-2 in Pac-10 opening games since joining the conference in 1978, including victories in three of the past four. The Sun Devils won their Pac-10 opener last season, beating Stanford 41-3 in Palo Alto. This will be the earliest they have met a Pac-10 opponent since 2001, when they fell at Stanford in the second game of the season.

This will be the 25th meeting between the Sun Devils and the Cardinal. Arizona State leads the all-time series 15-9, including a 9-3 mark in Tempe. ASU won the match-up last season at Stanford 41-3. The series dates back to 1978.

The Sun Devil offense came out firing on all cylinders and never looked back, jumping out to a 30-0 lead and holding on for a 30-13 victory. Rudy Carpenter hooked up with Kerry Taylor on a 52-yard scoring strike on ASU's first possession, setting the tone for the evening. Carpenter finished the game 22-28 (.786) for 388 yards and a touchdown in less than three quarters of action. It was his 10th career 300-yard passing game, tops among active Pac-10 signal callers. Carpenter also showed off his wheels, leading the Sun Devils with 40 rushing yards. Dimitri Nance scored two rushing touchdowns and Mike Jones collected 162 receiving yards on six catches. Dexter Davis recorded two sacks against the Lumberjacks.

• The August 30 starting date was the second-earliest season opener in ASU history, topped only by the 2002 season opener at Nebraska on August 24.

• Arizona State led 10-0 after the opening quarter against NAU. In 2007, ASU led following the first quarter in only three of their 13 games.
• The Sun Devils won their sixth straight season opener and 10th straight home opener.

Now in his fourth season under center, senior QB Rudy Carpenter is tied with Purdue's Curtis Painter for the most consecutive games starting at quarterback in college football. Carpenter has started 32 straight contests and has seen action in 36 career games. In the Pac-10 last year, only two other quarterbacks did not miss a game. But here is the most impressive nugget...when Jake "the Snake" Plummer started the final 40 games of his career that ended in 1996, ASU began a stretch in 1997 that ended in 2004 (nine seasons) in which eight quarterbacks made at least one start. Rudy took over in the eighth game in 2005 and has started every game since. He has started every game the past two seasons, as only Andrew Walter in 2003 did the same in the past 11 seasons.

Rudy Carpenter
continues to be one of the top QBs in the Pac-10 Conference. With his 13-yard pass to Chris McGaha on the second play from scrimmage against NAU, Carpenter topped the 8,000 yard passing mark for his career. Carpenter is the active Pac-10 leader in passing attempts, completed passes, passing yards, touchdown passes and 300 yard games. Carpenter now has 66 career touchdown passes and has thrown for 8,386 yards in his ASU career. He currently ranks 16th all-time in Pac-10 history for passing yards, trailing USC's Rob Johnson (1991-94) by 86 yards.

Rudy Carpenter
now has 66 touchdown passes in his career. He is only the fourth Sun Devil all-time to throw at least 60 touchdowns, joining Andrew Walter (85), Jake Plummer (65) and Danny White (64). The 66 career TD passes is good for 11th most in Pac-10 history, one shy of UCLA's Drew Olson (2002-05) for 10th all-time.

Rudy Carpenter
is 22-10 as the starting quarterback for Arizona State, the fourth most wins as a starter in school history. Danny White holds the all-time record for wins by a starting quarterback, going 30-3 from 1971 to 1973. Dennis Sproul is second with a 26-11 record from 1974-77. Carpenter passed Jeff Van Raaphorst, who went 21-9-1 from 1983 to 1986, with the win over the Lumberjacks. He is two wins shy of Jake Plummer for third place. Plummer went 24-16 from 1993 to 1996. Van Raaphorst, Plummer and Carpenter are the only three QBs in ASU history who have led the Sun Devils to a Pac-10 title.

Against NAU, Carpenter tied a 56-year old school by completing 13 consecutive passes. The only other Sun Devil to complete that many in a row was Dick Mackey, who accomplished the feat against San Diego Navy in 1952. The NCAA record is 24, held by Tennessee's Tee Martin in 1998 and Cal's Aaron Rodgers in 2004.

Carpenter continues to etch his name into the ASU annals of passing history. He is third in career completions with 608, third in attempts with 986, second in touchdowns with 66 and third in yards with 8,386.

Over his three seasons at Arizona State, Rudy Carpenter has found success achieved by few who wore maroon and gold. Carpenter has started three bowl games (2005 Insight, 2006 Hawai'i and 2007 Holiday), only the second quarterback in school history to accomplish that feat. Danny White is the only other, starting the Fiesta Bowl in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Rudy also joins Jeff Van Raaphorst (1986) and Jake Plummer (1996) as ASU quarterbacks to lead the Sun Devils to a Pac-10 title.

Carpenter isn't just highly ranked in the Pac-10, but in the nation as well. The senior signal caller ranks in the top five among active FBS quarterbacks in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. He is fifth in yards, 99 yards behind New Mexico State's Chase Holbrook for fourth. He is second in touchdown passes, trailing only Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. 300 Game: Carpenter's 388 yards against the Lumberjacks was his 10th career 300-yard game, tops among active Pac-10 quarterbacks. The Sun Devils are 7-3 when Rudy throws for over 300 yards, including a 5-0 mark at home. Northern Arizona becomes the ninth different team that Rudy has thrown for over 300 yards against. Washington State is the only school he has done it against twice, 339 yards at home in 2006 and 381 yards in Pullman in 2005.

Carpenter went 22-28 against NAU, a completion percentage of .786. It marked his second-highest career completion percentage in a game he had at least 20 passing attempts. His career best was in 2005 against Washington at Sun Devil Stadium, when he completed 27 of 34 passes for a .794 completion percentage. In that game he threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-20 victory.

Carpenter's 388 yards against the Lumberjacks set a new school record for most passing yards in the first game of a season. Joe Spagnola held the previous record of 369 on Sept. 20, 1969 vs. Minnesota.

Entering his final season, Carpenter finds himself a candidate for several major awards. He is on the Watch List for the Maxwell Award, presented to the top player in college football, the Davey O'Brien Award, awarded to the best quarterback in the country, the Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year award.

Arizona State played 58 players against NAU, 22 of whom made their Sun Devil debuts. That means that 38% of the Devils who played against the Lumberjacks had never before worn the Maroon and Gold. Of those 22, eight were true freshmen and four were redshirt freshmen. The last time a Sun Devil team fielded that many true freshmen in a season was in 2002, when eight played. The eight who played against NAU were WR Gerell Robinson, S Clint Floyd, RB Ryan Bass, CB Josh Jordan, LB Shelly Lyons, LB Brandon Magee, DL Lawrence Guy and SN Thomas Ohmart. The school record for most true freshmen ever fielded in a season is nine, set in 1994. The other Devils making their ASU debuts were OL Adam Tello (RS-Fr.), CB Pierre Singfield, CB Terell Carr, S Jarrell Holman, LB Oliver Aaron (RS-Fr.), S Max Tabach, DE James Brooks (RS-Fr.), DL Spencer Gasu, OL Tom Njunge, OL Brent Good, TE Stanley Malamala, TE Dan Knapp (RS-Fr.), DL David Bertrand and WR T.J. Simpson (RS-Fr.).

One of the Sun Devils making his debut against NAU was DE James Brooks. Brooks, a redshirt freshman, made his collegiate debut against his hometown team. Brooks is a 2007 graduate of Flagstaff High School and grew up watching the Lumberjacks play in Flagstaff.

Redshirt freshman center Garth Gerhart did not play in the game against Northern Arizona, but he hopes to make his debut against Stanford this weekend. The game against the Cardinal will have special meaning for Gerhart, as his brother Toby is the Cardinal's starting running back.

38 letterwinners return from the 2007 Pac-10 championship squad, including seven starters on both sides of the ball. Rudy CarpenterChris McGaha. The two combined for 107 catches, 1,599 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2007. Keegan Herring returns to lead the running attack, and he will be teamed with Dimitri Nance and Shaun DeWitty in the backfield. Herring enters 2008 as the 10th-leading rusher in school history, gaining 2,234 yards in his career. Dexter Davis will lead a stout defense that finished as the third ranked unit in the Pac-10 last year. Davis has totaled 18.5 sacks in his two plus seasons in maroon and gold. Travis Goethel and Mike Nixon will anchor the group of linebackers, after the two combined for 129 tackles a season ago. Troy Nolan is the leader of the defensive backfield after intercepting six passes in 2007, returning two of them for touchdowns. 2007 Lou Groza Award Winner Thomas Weber returns on special teams, looking to improve on a 2007 campaign that saw him go 24-25 on field goals and handle the punting duties. returns for his fourth season as the signal caller for the Devils. Carpenter will have an experienced and talented receiving corps, led by Mike Jones and

Seven members of the 2008 Sun Devil football team have already earned their degrees from Arizona State University. Rudy Carpenter, Mike Jones, Wes Evans, Angelo Fobbs-Valentino, Nate Kimbrough, Troy Nolan and David Smith have all graduated from Arizona State University.

Mike Nixon will be writing a weekly diary for The Sporting News about the 2008 season. He is one of 22 FBS student-athletes who will write the weekly column, and one of only two from the Pac-10. It can be read at

Arizona State has one of the smallest senior classes in the nation. ASU has 15 seniors on their roster, one of five teams with that amount. The others are Colorado, Nevada, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. Only 12 teams in the country have fewer seniors.

Senior WR Mike Jones has been a two-sport athlete at ASU for three years, spending his springs with the Sun Devil baseball team. But this summer was different for Jones, who was drafted in the 29th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Jones spent his summer in Tampa, Florida as a member of the Gulf Coast Yankees in the Rookie League. He appeared in 15 games, collecting nine hits, including five doubles. Jones showed no rust from his summer of baseball, grabbing six receptions for 162 yards against Northern Arizona. It was the fourth career 100-yard game of his career.

Arizona State boasts one of the top returning wide receiving corps in the Pac-10. Mike Jones, Chris McGaha and Kyle Williams all return for the Sun Devils, giving Rudy Carpenter and ASU a dangerous arsenal. Kerry Taylor quickly added himself to that arsenal against the Lumberjacks, catching four passes for 93 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown catch. Taylor had 53 receiving yards all of last season. The four wide receivers have combined for 159 receptions, 2,359 yards and 19 touchdowns dating back to last season. McGaha led the 2007 team with 61 catches for 830 yards, while Jones was the scoring leader, finding the end zone 10 times. He had 46 receptions for 769 yards to go along with the 10 TDs. Williams caught 29 passes for 360 yards and six scores.

Junior defensive end Dexter Davis enjoyed one of the most sensational freshman seasons by a Sun Devil defender in school history in 2006, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors and honorable mention freshman All-America recognition by The Sporting News. The Phoenix, Ariz., native recorded a team-best and Pac-10 freshman season-high 6.0 quarterback sacks, the third-most by a Sun Devil rookie in school history. He was just as impressive during his sophomore campaign, posting a team-leading 10.5 sacks, third most in the Pac-10. He was a Second Team All-Pac-10 selection after recording 33 total tackles, including 13.5 for loss. He also forced three fumbles and recovered another. He is off to another fast start in 2008, recording two sacks against NAU to give him 18.5 in his career. Davis has started all 27 games in his Sun Devil career, totaling 76 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks. Davis is on the preseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, the Nagurski Trophy and the Lombardi Award.

Sophomore kicker Thomas Weber returns in 2008, hoping to duplicate one of the greatest seasons by a kicker in Arizona State history. The winner of the 2007 Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation’s top placekicker, a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press and a First-Team All-Pac-10 honoree, Weber was sensationally consistent during his freshman season, connecting on 24-of-25 field goals (96.0 pct.), with a long of 53 yards. A three-time Pac-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week in 2007, Weber set numerous Sun Devil records in only his first college season, including a record streak of 17 made field goal attempts to begin the year (also a nation-leading streak for the season) and a nation-high accuracy rating. The Downey, Calif., product ranked first in the Pac-10, fifth in the nation and tied the Sun Devil single-season record for points by kicking (118) set by Mike Barth as a senior in 2002, while also placing sixth in the country with 1.85 made field goals per game. A sharpshooter off the kicking tee and in the classroom, Weber added First-Team Pac-10 All-Academic honors to his list of accomplishments as a rookie in 2007. In addition to his near-perfect kicking reputation, Weber took on the added challenge of taking over punting duties midway through the season and averaged 39.3 yards on 47 punts for the year. He was once again automatic in the season opener, going 3-3 on field goals, 3-3 on PATs and punting six times for an average of 43.2 yards. He also boomed a 60-yarder and twice pinned the Lumberjacks inside the 20-yard line. ASU has both a new holder and a new snapper in 2008. Danny Sullivan is the new holder, while true freshman Thomas Ohmart handles the long snapping duties.

From the moment he set foot on ASU's campus, senior Keegan Herring has had a smile on his face and a hunger for yards. Over his three seasons with the Devils, Herring has been one of the most dependable backs in the Pac-10. He leads all Pac-10 returners with 2,234 career yards, good for 10th most in school history. One of the quickest athletes in the conference and a home run threat on every carry, Herring has scored 17 times and has had at least one carry for over 65 yards in each of his three seasons. Arizona State's leading rusher a season ago, Herring totaled 815 yards on 154 carries, the third straight he has gained over 500 yards. Herring did not play against Northern Arizona

With his 2,234 career rushing yards, Herring finds himself 10th on Arizona State's all-time rushing list. He is 240 yards short of Ben Malone (1971-73) for 9th on the list. Herring also has six career 100-yard games, including three in 2007. His career high for yards in a game is 197 against Northwestern in 2005.

For the second straight season, Arizona State will begin the year by playing their first four games at Sun Devil Stadium. Last season, ASU went 7-1 at home, winning its first six. They are the only team in the Pac-10 to open with four straight at home, and one of only five teams in the nation to play their first four games on their home field. Duke, Louisville, Indiana and Nebraska are the others. Nebraska opens the season with five straight home games.

Several Sun Devils are on preseason watch lists for national awards. Senior Safety Troy Nolan, who led the team team with six interceptions a year ago, is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, the Nagurski Trophy, the Thorpe Award and the Lott Trophy. Seniors Rudy Carpenter and Keegan Herring are both on the Maxwell Award watch list, while junior Dexter Davis joins Nolan on the Nagurski Trophy watch list. Davis is also on the Lombardi Award list and the Hendricks Award list. Carpenter is also on the Davey O'Brien Watch List, given to the nation's top QB and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award Watch List. Junior linebacker Gerald Munns is on the Butkus Award Watch List. 2007 Lou Groza Award winner Thomas Weber is on the watch list for the 2008 award. Herring is also on the Doak Walker Award list.

Kicker Thomas Weber has found his name on a number of preseason All-American teams. Weber is a First Team selection by The Sporting News, Athlon Sports and Playboy, while Phil Steele has him on the Third Team.

Senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter and senior safety Troy Nolan were named team captains after a vote by the team. Head coach Dennis Erickson will designate two additional game captains on a weekly basis. Luis Vasquez and Paul Fanaika were the game captains against Northern Arizona.

Arizona State opens the 2008 season ranked #15 in the AP Poll and #16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. This marks the highest preseason ranking for the Sun Devils since 1998, when they were ranked #8 in the first polls. ASU finished the 2007 ranked #13 in the USA Today Coaches poll and #16 in the final Associated Press Poll.

Senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter is one of only six four-year starters at the quarterback position in the Bowl Subdivision. Curtis Painter of Purdue, Mike Teel of Rutgers, Willie Tuitama of Arizona, Pat White of West Virginia, Drew Weatherford of Florida State and Drew Willy of Buffalo are the others.

Head Coach Dennis Erickson has a combined record of 39-9 during his second season with a school. He has gone 50-44-1 in his first year at his seven college coaching jobs, including 10-3 last season at ASU.

The Sun Devils will host UNLV at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium on Sept. 13. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. with FSN Arizona providing television coverage. It will be the first ever meeting between the Rebels and the Sun Devils.