Football opens 2011 season against UC Davis

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The Arizona State Sun Devils will open their 99th season of football when they host the UC Davis Aggies at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium on Sept. 1. The Sun Devils will debut their new uniforms and helmets against the Aggies. ASU is 555-349-24 (.612) all-time on the gridiron.

SEASON OPENERS: Arizona State is 69-27-2 (.714) all-time in season openers, including victories in the last eight. The Sun Devils have won 11 of their past 12 season openers. ASU holds an all-time mark of 49-15-1 (.762) when opening the season at home. Last year, the Devils beat Portland State 54-9 in Tempe to open the season, their 12th straight season opener victory at Sun Devil Stadium.

COACH ERICKSON AND SEASON OPENERS: Head Coach Dennis Erickson is 16-6 in season opening games in his 22 years as a collegiate coach. He is 4-0 in season openers as the head coach at Arizona State.

WELCOME TO THE PAC-12: 2011 will mark the inaugural season of the Pac-12 Conference. Joining the conference this season are Utah and Colorado, who will join Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA and USC in the South Division. ASU played in the Pac-10 for 32 years, from 1978 until 2010. It won Pac-10 titles in 1986, 1996 and 2007.

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. The UC Davis game will air on KTAR 620 AM.

lights, camera, action: Fox Sports Arizona will televise the match-up between the Sun Devils and the Aggies. Tom Leander and former Sun Devil linebacker Adam Archuleta will call the action from the booth while Mark McClune handles the sideline duties.

SUN DEVILS VS. AGGIES: Arizona State and UC Davis have not met on a football field in over 70 years. The only previous match-up came on September 21, 1940, when the Bulldogs of Arizona State won 21-13.

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.

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.

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.

WHO’S BACK: Headlining the returners on offense is the leader of the Sun Devil backfield, junior tailback Cameron Marshall. Marshall ran for 787 yards and 9 touchdowns last season. Calling the signals will be junior QB Brock Osweiler, who led ASU to a thrilling overtime win over Arizona in the Territorial Cup in his only start last season. He will have plenty of targets to throw to, as Arizona State boasts returning senior wideouts Gerell Robinson, Mike Willie and Aaron Pflugrad, who combined to catch 94 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010. Versatile junior Jamal Miles, who was a threat out of the backfield and as a receiver as well as returning kicks, also returns as another weapon for the ASU offense, as does Kyle Middlebrooks. Senior center Garth Gerhart will anchor an experienced and talented offensive line that welcomes back all five starters. Gerhart is joined by Evan Finkenberg (LT), Mike Marcisz (LG), Andrew Sampson (RG) and Dan Knapp (RT). Aderious Simmons, Brice Schwab, Adam Tello and Kody Koebensky are other returning offensive linemen with game experience. The Sun Devil defense will once again be a strength of the squad, as they bring back a wealth of talent. Leading the charge for the defense is preseason All-American junior linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who will team with 2010 Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year defensive end Junior Onyeali. Seniors Jamaar Jarrett and Bo Moos and sophomore Will Sutton team with Onyeali on the defensive line, while senior safeties Eddie Elder and Clint Floyd will patrol the secondary along with cornerbacks Deveron Carr and Osahon Irabor

SENIOR CLASS: The 2011 Sun Devils will feature one of the largest senior classes in the nation, as there will be 27 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, wide receiver T.J. Simpson, offensive lineman Adam Tello and defensive back Austin Williams.

NO RUSH: The 2010 Sun Devil defense led the Pac-10 in rushing defense, allowing only 120.2 yards per game. This was the second straight season ASU led the conference in rushing D.


100 BY LAND, 100 BY AIR: A Sun Devil collected 100-yards on the ground five times during the 2010 season. ASU is 253-55-5 all-time when a Sun Devil runs for over 100 yards. Cameron Marshall had two 100-yard games (Portland State and UCLA), while Deantre Lewis reeled off three straight (at Wisconsin, Oregon, at Oregon State). Lewis also had two 100-yard receiving games. He is the first Sun Devil since George Montgomery in 1993 to collect a 100-yard receiving and rushing game in the same season. His trifecta of 100-yard ground games marked the first time since 2003 that an ASU running back has totaled three straight 100-yard games, and the sixth time since 1992.

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.

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.

ANOTHER DYNAMIC DEBUT: For the second straight season, a Sun Devil was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Freshman of the Year. Junior Onyeali earned the award for 2010, after teammate Vontaze Burfict took home the award in 2009. Onyeali led the Sun Devils and all Pac-10 freshmen with 6.5 sacks for a loss of 61 yards. Of his 18 stops last season, 11.5 were for loss.  

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: When Jamal Miles returned a UCLA kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown on Nov. 26, it marked the third time an ASU kick returner took a kick to the house in 2010. That set a new school record for kickoff return touchdowns in a single season, breaking the previous mark that was set in 1968 and 1996. Miles was the third different Sun Devil to return a kickoff for a touchdown, joining Omar Bolden and LeQuan Lewis. ASU led the Pac-10 in kickoff returns, averaging 27.5 yards per return. No other Pac-10 team had more than one kickoff return for a score.

MORE RETURNS: ASU has returned five kickoffs for a touchdown under Dennis Erickson in his four years, including three in 2010. ASU had returned five kickoffs for touchdowns in the previous 20 seasons prior to his arrival (1987-2006).

BLOCK THAT KICK: Arizona State blocked six kicks in 2010: three punts and three extra points. The six blocks tied a school record set in 1992. Colin Parker (punt), Mike Callaghan (punt), Derrall Anderson (punt), LeQuan Lewis (PAT) and James Brooks (2 PATs) collected the blocks. Brooks blocked his two PATs against Arizona, sealing the victory. Blocked kicks were not tracked as an official statistic until 1982.

ON THE GROUND: ASU rushed for 19 touchdowns in 2010 after running for 14 in all of 2009. Cameron Marshall had nine TD runs in 2010, the most by an ASU runner since Delvon Flowers had 11 in 2001, the most in the past decade. 

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.

ALL-ACADEMIC: Nine members of the Sun Devils were honored as Academic All-Pac-10 selections in 2010, headlined by First Teamers Steven Threet and Dean DeLeone. It was the 12th straight season that ASU has had at least one First Team selection. Joining Threet and DeLeone were honorable mention selections Grandville Taylor, Brandon Johnson, Cameron Kastl, Mike Marcisz, Aaron Pflugrad, Colin Parker and Thomas Weber. Parker also earned honorable mention in 2008, while Weber earned a selection for a fourth consecutive year. He was a First Team choice in 2007, Second Team in 2008 and honorable mention in 2009.

DEBUT DEVILS: 26 student-athletes saw their first action at Arizona State in 2010: Brice Schwab, Aaron Pflugrad, Steven Threet, Mike Willie, Junior Onyeali, Kyle Middlebrooks, Eddie Elder, Shane McCullen, Max Smith, Chris Coyle, George Bell, Deantre Lewis, Osahon Irabor, Brandon Johnson, Alden Darby, Lee Adams, Evan Finkenberg, Matt Tucker, Aderious Simmons, J.J. Holliday, Cameron Kastl, Kody Koebensky, Jarrid Bryant, Grandville Taylor, Chris DeArmas and R.J. Robinson.

PLAYING CATCH: During the 2010 season, the Sun Devils totaled 279 receptions for 3,437 yards and 23 touchdowns. Entering the 2011 season, ASU returns an offensive unit that combined for 224 receptions for 2,729 yards and three touchdowns last season. Returning to headline the wide receivers in 2011 is Mike Willie (36-442-6 in 2010), Gerell Robinson (29-387-5 in 2010) and Aaron Pflugrad (29-329-2 in 2010). Also returning to catch the ball out of the backfield are Jamal Miles (25-203-4 in 2010), Deantre Lewis (23-370-2 in 2010), Cameron Marshall (21-227-1 in 2010) and Kyle Middlebrooks (13-86 in 2010).

Scott Brown JOINS THE STAFF: Veteran coach Scott Brown joins the Sun Devil coaching staff in 2011, taking over the defensive line duties. Brown served the last three years at Colorado State where he was the defensive line coach. He joined the CSU staff from Duke, where he had spent the previous 12 seasons coaching the defensive line and special teams.  Brown has coached countless players who went on to the National Football League, most recently Colorado State defensive end Tommie Hill (N.Y. Giants). Nine of those individuals played at Duke, including Chris Combs, the Steelers’ sixth-round draft choice in 2000. Combs earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in consecutive seasons while with the Blue Devils. Prior to his tenure at Duke, Brown coached four seasons on the staff at Minnesota, where he coached he defensive line and linebackers. With the Golden Gophers, he coached Craig Sauer, the Atlanta Falcons’ sixth-round selection in the 1996 NFL Draft, as well as Miami Dolphins free agent Ed Hawthorne.  He also served nine years at Texas Christian University (1983-91) and three at Southwest Texas State (1980-82), coaching defensive line all 12 seasons. At Southwest Texas State (1980-83), he helped the Bobcats to consecutive Division II national championships, posting victories over North Dakota State in 1981 and UC Davis in 1982. Brown launched his coaching career with a four-year stint in various coaching roles at his alma mater, Adams State (1976-79), in Southern Colorado. As a player, Brown was a prep All-American at Del Norte (Colo.) High School, and went on to play linebacker and defensive end at Adams State.

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.

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.

WHO’S GONE: Gone from the team are several key contributors from the 2010 season. Quarterback Steven Threet, who started 11 games last season, was forced to retire from football due to lingering concussion symptoms. Quarterback Samson Szakacsy decided to end his football career to pursue other interests. Also gone from the offensive side of the ball is wide receiver Kerry Taylor, who led the Sun Devils in receiving during his senior season. Offensive lineman Jon Hargis also exhausted his eligibility. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy decided to forego his senior season at ASU and enter the NFL draft. Also gone from the defensive line is Saia Falahola, who graduated after playing in 39 games, starting 23, in his four-year Sun Devil career. Other contributors gone to graduation are linebacker Gerald Munns, who played in 47 games, safety Max Tabach and corner LeQuan Lewis. The special teams unit suffered the most severe losses, as kicker Thomas Weber, who won the 2007 Lou Groza Award, and punter Trevor Hankins, one of the nation’s top punters over the past two years, both graduated.

NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Four of Arizona State’s 12 regular season games have already been picked up for national television. The September 9 match-up with Missouri at Sun Devil Stadium will be televised by ESPN. The following week, September 17, ASU’s game at Illinois will be shown on the Big 10 Network. ESPN or ESPN 2 will then air the following week’s game with USC, and ESPN will show the regular season finale with California in Tempe on November 25.

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.

ASU HALL OF FAME: Two former Sun Devil football student-athletes are members of the 2011 ASU Hall of Fame class. Adam Archuleta, who played linebacker from 1997 to 2000, and Marvel Smith, an offensive lineman from 1997 to 1999, will both be inducted at halftime of the Oregon State game on October 1. Archuleta spent seven seasons in the NFL while Smith played nine seasons.

NO RANKING? NO PROBLEM: ASU just missed being ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll announced on Aug. 20. The last three times ASU finished in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll, it was not ranked in the preseason. ASU finished 14th in 1997 (9-3 with Sun Bowl win over Iowa under Bruce Snyder), 19th in 2004 (9-3 with Sun Bowl win over Purdue under Dirk Koetter) and 16th in 2007 (10-3 with Holiday Bowl loss to Texas under 2007 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Dennis Erickson).

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. He has worked closely with Brock Osweiler, Mike Bercovici, Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank as well as Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone.

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils will play host to the Missouri Tigers on Friday, September 9. ESPN will televise the game, with Arizona State expected to wear its all black uniforms for a Black Out game.

DID YOU KNOW: The only time Arizona State met UC Davis in football (1940), Arizona State was known as the Bulldogs and played home games at Goodwin Stadium. The Bulldogs finished that season 7-2-2 and played in the Sun Bowl.