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Football heads to Utah for first time since 1977

October 04, 2011

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Following a 35-20 victory over Oregon State, Arizona State will play its first ever Pac-12 road tilt, taking on Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Oct. 8. The Sun Devils erased a 13-0 second quarter deficit, scoring 21 straight points to take a 21-13 lead they would not relinquish. The Utes come into the game with a 2-2 record, 0-2 in Pac-12 play. Utah fell to Washington 31-14 last weekend in Salt Lake City.

ON THE AIR: The IMG-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.  

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Fox Sports Net will televise the match-up between the Sun Devils and the Utes. Craig Bolerjack and Joel Klatt will call the action with Petros Papadakis on the sidelines.

SUN DEVILS VS. UTES: Arizona State and Utah have faced each other 22 times, but not since 1993. ASU leads the all-time series 16-6, including a 3-3 record at Utah. The two schools were conference rivals in the WAC from 1962 to 1977, facing each other nearly every season until ASU joined the Pac-10 in 1978. The last trip the Sun Devils made to Utah was in 1977, when ASU won 47-19. ASU has won seven in a row in the series, including the last six in Tempe.

COACH ERICKSON VS. UTAH: This will be the second time in his career that Dennis Erickson will face the Utah Utes. His only previous match-up with them was in 1986, when his Wyoming Cowboys defeated Utah 38-14 in Laramie. This will be his first trip to Salt Lake City as a head coach.

MR. TOUCHDOWN: Junior wide receiver Jamal Miles has become a touchdown machine in 2011. Miles returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the season opener against UC Davis, threw a TD pass against Missouri and has caught three touchdown passes this year. Against Oregon State, Miles added another notch to his TD belt, returning a punt 78-yards for a score. Miles is the only player in the nation to have scored a touchdown on a reception, kickoff return and punt return as well as throw a TD pass. Miles is a major reason why both the kick return and punt return teams lead the Pac-12. Only ASU and Oregon have returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this season. Arizona State is ranked 7th nationally in punt return average (17.8 ypg), while Miles is fourth nationally in that category. Miles TD pass was the first of his career on his second career attempt. He also set a new career-high with his nine receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown against USC.

MORE ON MILES: The 78-yard punt return by Jamal Miles was the first punt returned for a touchdown by a Sun Devil since 2005. On November 25, 2005, Terry Richardson returned an Arizona punt 71-yards for the score. It took 68 games before Miles did the same thing against the Beavers.

CAPTAINS: Omar Bolden, Garth Gerhart, Brock Osweiler, Colin Parker and T.J. Simpson have been named the captains of the 2011 Sun Devil football team.

OREGON STATE RECAP: After spotting Oregon State a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Sun Devils picked up their offense, scoring 21 unanswered points on their way to a 35-20 victory. Jamal Miles accounted for 249 all-purpose yards, including a punt return for a touchdown, and Cameron Marshall scored two touchdowns on the ground to pace the ASU offense. The defense forced five turnovers, including four interceptions of OSU’s Sean Mannion.

IN THE POLLS: Arizona State checks in at #22 in this week’s Associated Press Poll, up from #25 a week ago. The Sun Devils are also ranked #24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. This season marked ASU’s first appearance in the AP Poll since a #15 ranking on September 7, 2008.

FIRST INTERCEPTIONS: One week after linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Shelly Lyons each recorded their career interception, sophomore Alden Darby got in on the act against Oregon State. Darby picked off Beaver QB Sean Mannion early in the fourth quarter for his first career INT. He enjoyed himself so much, he did it again late in the fourth, sealing the win with his second pick.

BALLHAWKING: The Sun Devil defense has dialed up the turnovers over the last two contests, forcing nine takeaways. After collecting four against USC, the Sun Devils forced the Beavers into five turnovers (four INTs and a fumble) in the 35-20 victory. Last season the Sun Devils forced 17 turnovers (12 INTs, 5 fumbles). So far in 2011, ASU has already forced 10 (6 INTs, 4 fumbles).

THIRD DOWN SHUT DOWN: Arizona State has been a dominant team on third down defense, leading the Pac-12 in third down conversion percentage. Opponents have converted on third down only 23.8% of the time (16-67), including limiting Oregon State to 4-15.

PFEELING THE PFLOW: Aaron Pflugrad had a night to remember against Missouri. The senior wideout tied a career-high with eight catches and set a new career-high with 180 yards. He also scored two touchdowns for the second straight week. This season, Pflugrad has totaled 25 receptions for 375 yards and four TDs. Entering the 2011 season, he had 576 yards and three touchdowns in his career. Pflugrad has been added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

MR. VERSATILE: Jamal Miles has done a little bit of everything this 2011 season. In the opener against UC Davis, he returned a kickoff 98-yards for a touchdown. Against Missouri, he put on a touchdown clinic, catching two touchdown passes, including the game-winner in overtime, and threw a touchdown pass. It was the first touchdown pass of his career on his second career completion. Against USC, Miles made a career-high nine receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.

RUNNING FOR MILES: Jamal Miles returned his second career kickoff for a touchdown against UC Davis, bringing it back 98 yards. It was the second consecutive game in Sun Devil Stadium Miles had returned a kick for a score, as he had a 99-yarder in last season’s home finale against UCLA. Miles joins teammate Omar Bolden, Terry Battle and Whizzer White as the only Sun Devils in school history with two career kickoff return touchdowns. It was the sixth kickoff return for touchdown the Sun Devils have had since Dennis Erickson took over as head coach in 2007, the most under one coach in school history.

DEBUT DEVILS: 21 student-athletes have seen their first action at Arizona State this season: Rashad Wadood, Alex Garoutte, Anthony Jones, Kipeli Koniseti, Carl Bradford, Tyler Sulka, Kevin Ozier, Ezekiel Bishop, Josh Hubner, Jamil Douglas, Jordan McDonald, Davon Coleman, Rashad Ross, Mike Bercovici, Sil Ajawara, Kevin Ayers, Marcus Washington, Taylor Kelly, Angelo Magee, Chike Mbanefo and Gannon Conway. Wadood, Bishop and Bercovici are all true freshmen.

MORE FIRSTS: Several Sun Devils recorded milestone “firsts” in the win over UC Davis. Quarterback Brock Osweiler made his first career start at Sun Devil Stadium. His previous two career starts came at Autzen Stadium against Oregon (2009) and at Arizona Stadium against the Wildcats (2010). Quarterbacks Mike Bercovici and Taylor Kelly each threw their first pass completion in their first career action. Running back Marcus Washington scored his first career touchdown in his first career game. Wide receivers Chris Coyle, Jarrid Bryant, Kevin Ozier, Angelo Magee and Rashad Ross all made their first career receptions.

PAC-12 PREDICTIONS: Arizona State has been picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South in the annual media poll. Oregon, who ASU will face in Eugene on October 15, has been picked to win the Pac-12 North. The winners of the two divisions will face each other in the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game on December 2.

NOEL HUDDLE OFFENSE: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone always says how the Sun Devils can score in a hurry, and they have not let him down this season. Arizona State’s first two touchdown drives of the UC Davis both took under 1:10. Last season, ASU had 11 scoring drives that took under 1:10. Against Missouri, ASU had an eight second scoring drive and in the Oregon State game the offense scored on a :44 second drive.

DUAL THREAT: Cameron Marshall has a well deserved reputation as one of the top running backs in the Pac-12, but he proved against UC Davis that he is just as dangerous through the air. Marshall caught four passes for 86 yards against the Aggies, setting a new career high. His previous high was 45 yards last season against USC, but he topped that mark on his first reception of the year, a 47-yard pitch-and-catch on the first offensive play of the season.

THREE AND OUT: The 2010 ASU defense was one of the top teams in the nation to force opposing offenses into three-and-out possessions. The Sun Devils averaged 4.08 three-and-outs a game, for a total of 49 in their 12 contests. That placed them in the top 20 in the nation. So far in 2011, ASU has forced opponents into 14 three-and-outs.

PUSH ‘EM BACK: In 2010, the Sun Devil defense routinely made tackles for loss or for no gain. The defense finished 2010 with 143 plays that went for negative or no yards, totaling 307 yards lost for the offense. Against Oregon State, the Sun Devil defense totaled six plays of negative or no gain for the Beavers for 31 yards lost.

100-YARD DUO: Running backs Cameron Marshall and Deantre Lewis are no strangers to having big games on the ground. Lewis has three career 100-yard games, while Marshall has three of his own. Lewis also has two 100-yard receiving games.

CORONA CENTENNIAL CONNECTION: The 2011 Sun Devils have seven student-athletes who played at Centennial High School in Corona, California in high school. Headlining the Centennial group is the linebacking trio of Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Magee and Shelly Lyons. Wide receiver Angelo Magee, Brandon’s brother, defensive lineman Will Sutton, quarterback Michael Eubank and wide receiver Jarrid Bryant also attended Centennial. Bryant graduated from Salisbury Prep in Connecticut, but began his high school career in Corona.

SENIOR CLASS: The 2011 Sun Devils will feature one of the largest senior classes in the nation, as there will be 25 seniors playing in their final season. The senior class includes: Linebacker Oliver Aaron, wide receiver George Bell, offensive lineman Chris DeArmas, safety Eddie Elder, safety Clint Floyd, defensive end Jamaar Jarrett, tight end Trevor Kohl, offensive lineman Nick Emanuele, linebacker Shelly Lyons, linebacker Brandon Magee, wide receiver Angelo Magee, wide receiver Gerell Robinson, offensive lineman Brice Schwab, wide receiver Mike Willie, cornerback Omar Bolden, offensive lineman Garth Gerhart, snapper Cameron Kastl, offensive lineman Dan Knapp, offensive lineman Mike Marcisz, offensive lineman Trent Marsh, defensive lineman Bo Moos, linebacker Colin Parker, wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad, offensive lineman Aderious Simmons and wide receiver T.J. Simpson.

BROCK’S TALLER THAN YOU: Quarterback Brock Osweiler checks in at six foot eight inches tall, making him the tallest quarterback in the FBS. Osweiler is one of nine QBs 6-6 or taller in the nation.

SELECT COMPANY: Head Coach Dennis Erickson is in select company when it comes to conference Coach of the Year awards. Coach Erickson is one of only two coaches in the nation to have six Coach of the Year trophies to his name. Erickson won Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors in 1988 (Washington State), 2000 (Oregon State) and 2007 (Arizona State) and Big East Coach of the Year honors in 1991, 1992 and 1994 (all with Miami). The only other coach with six Coach of the Year awards is South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier.

TRUE FRESHMEN UNDER ERICKSON: Since Dennis Erickson took over in 2007, 27 true freshmen have played for the Sun Devils. This season, three (Mike Bercovici, Ezekiel Bishop, Rashad Wadood) have played. ASU saw a school record 10 play during the 2008 season.

SCHOLAR BALLERS: 22 Sun Devil football players have been named Scholar Ballers for their work in the classroom: Oliver Aaron, Sil Ajawara, Derrall Anderson, Mike Bercovici, Gannon Conway, Chris Coyle, Evan Finkenberg, Alex Garoutte, Brandon Johnson, Cameron Kastl, Ronald Kennedy, Jr., Kody Koebensky, Shelly Lyons, Brandon Magee, Mike Marcisz, Trent Marsh, Kyle Middlebrooks, Colin Parker, Aaron Pflugrad, Max Smith, Grandville Taylor and Austin Williams.

HALL OF FAME: Pat Tillman entered the College Football Hall of Fame in July, the ninth Sun Devil enshrined. Tillman joins former Sun Devil coaches Dan Devine, Frank Kush and John Cooper and student-athletes defensive back Mike Haynes, wide receiver John Jefferson, offensive lineman Randall McDaniel, linebacker Ron Pritchard and quarterback Danny White as representatives of Arizona State University in the College Football Hall of Fame.

HOME SWEET HOME: With its win over UCLA in the home finale last season, Arizona State won its 250th regular season game at Sun Devil Stadium. Sun Devil Stadium opened in 1958. The Sun Devils also won five Fiesta Bowls at Sun Devil Stadium.

EXPERIENCE: Defensive Coordinator Craig Bray and Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone boast a combined 68 years of both college and pro coaching experience, the third most experienced coaching duo in the nation.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Three Sun Devil quarterbacks have completed 123 passes this season, finding 13 different receivers. Last season, three ASU QBs combined to throw completions to 16 different receivers.

ASU HALL OF FAME: Last weekend against Oregon State, former Sun Devil football greats Adam Archuleta and Marvel Smith entered the Arizona State Athletic Hall of Fame. Archuleta played at ASU from 1996 to 2000 before going on to an eight-year NFL career. Smith donned the Maroon and Gold from 1996 to 1999 before playing 10 seasons in the NFL and winning two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

HEALING UP: Despite suffering severe knee injuries during spring practice, both Omar Bolden and T.J. Simpson have played huge roles for the Sun Devils as they prepare for the 2011 season. Bolden has been mentoring the cornerbacks, imparting wisdom gained from his stellar career at ASU. On the other side of the ball, Simpson has been helping the wide receivers by sharing his knowledge from his time on the field. Both Bolden and Simpson continue to rehab their injuries.

ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS: After suffering a concussion during the UCLA game last season, quarterback Steven Threet was forced to end his playing days. However, Threet did not end his association with the Sun Devil football program. Threet is spending this season as a student coach as he works towards finishing his degree.

UNI-WATCH: Arizona State wore their traditional uniform combo for the season opener against UC Davis (gold helmet, maroon jersey, gold pants). They wore all black against Missouri and all white for the first road game at Illinois. Against USC they wore all maroon and against Oregon State they wore white helmets, maroon jerseys and white pants.

TALL AND SHORT OF IT: At 6-8, Brock Osweiler is the tallest quarterback in the country. His number one target, Aaron Pflugrad, is 5-10. The 10-inch height differential between QB and receiver is the biggest disparity among QB/WR combos in the nation.

DID YOU KNOW: Arizona State and Utah were both members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1962 to 1977. ASU left the WAC to join the Pac-10 prior to the 1978 football season. In 1969, ASU and Utah finished 1-2 in the WAC Standings, with Arizona State going 6-1 in WAC play and Utah going 5-1. Both teams finished the season 8-2.

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils travel to Eugene, Oregon for a match-up with the Ducks at Autzen Stadium on October 15. The game will air on ESPN with a 7:15 PM kickoff.