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Sun Devil football heads to Cal for Pac-12 road test

Sun Devil pride
September 25, 2012

Game to be broadcast at 1 p.m. on FX

The Arizona State Sun Devils head on the road for the second time this season as they take on the Golden Bears of Cal in Berkeley, Calif., at 1 p.m., PST, Sept. 29. The Sun Devils are bouncing back from a dominating victory at home against Utah and will look to keep the momentum rolling in a key conference matchup. Cal holds the 17-14 series lead over the Sun Devils and have won four straight. The game take place at the California Memorial Stadium and will be broadcast on the FX Network. ASU is 564-357-24 (.609) all-time on the gridiron.

ON THE AIR: The MidFirst Bank Sun Devil-IMG 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 with Doug Franz reporting from the sidelines. This week's game will be broadcast on KTAR 92.3 FM. The game will be broadcast on Sirius Channel 94 and SiriusXM Channel 200.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: This week's matchup will be broadcast on FX. Justin Kutcher will provide the play-by-play with Eric Crouch serving as the game analyst. Darius Walker will provide the sideline reports. This will be Arizona State's first game on FX this season. Check your local listings for the FX Channel near you.

SUN DEVILS vs. GOLDEN BEARS: California leads the all-time series with Arizona State 17-14, including victories in eight of the last nine meetings. Last season, the Golden Bears beat the Sun Devils in a 47-38 shootout in Tempe. Cal won the last meeting in Berkeley, downing ASU 50-17 in 2010.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR: With Sunday's matchup so pivotal for both teams going into the weekend, there are a couple trends to keep an eye on:
--Cal has allowed 8.25 tackles for loss per game thus far this season where the Sun Devils are averaging 9.75 per game
--Cal has averaged 235.2 yards through the air on the season while ASU has given up an average of just 139.8 per game (tops in the conference)
--Cal is currently fourth in the conference at 175.8 rushing yards per game, an area where the ASU defense hasn't been quite as elite, allowing 134.2 rushing yards per game, sixth in the Pac-12
--Cal has struggled to keep opponents from putting points on the board, allowing 31.0 points per game through four games (11th in Pac-12) while ASU is averaging 41.2 ppg (second in Pac-12)

RECAP - ARIZONA STATE VS. UTAH: Taylor Kelly threw for a career-high 326 yards and three touchdowns and Arizona State bounced back from its first loss under new coach Todd Graham with a 37-7 rout over Utah Saturday night. Coming off a mistake-filled road loss to Missouri, the Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) used their don't-let-em-rest offense and a smothering defense to run past Utah (2-2, 0-1) on a hot night in the desert. Kelly eclipsed his season high by halftime with 259 yards and had three touchdown passes as Arizona State built a 31-7 lead. Cameron Marshall scored two touchdowns and Arizona State rolled up 512 total yards against one of the nation's best defenses to win its ninth straight over the Utes. The Sun Devils had 347 yards by halftime against a Utah defense that allowed an average of 268 yards its first three games. The Sun Devils had no trouble against the Utes from the get-go, racing 64 yards in four plays for a touchdown on their opening drive.

-Utah's 209 yards of total offense is fewest ASU has allowed in a league game since it gave up 181 at Washington State on Oct. 10, 2009.
-Arizona State had 512 yards of total offense. Utah had not allowed 500 yards since allowing 543 to Boise State in 2010.
-Arizona State's 37 points is the most Utah has allowed since joining the Pac-12.
-Arizona State's 22-yard field goal in the third quarter was the first points Utah has allowed in the third quarter this season.
-The Sun Devils had 347 yards by halftime against a Utah defense that allowed an average of 268 yards total in its first three games.
-With 259 yards at halftime, Taylor Kelly surpassed his prior career best for yards in a game (previously 249 against NAU).

WASTING NO TIME: Jaxon Hood and D.J. Foster joined John Jefferson (1974), Terrell Suggs (2000), Zach Miller (2004) and Will Sutton (2009) as true freshmen to start season opener at ASU on offense or defense. The NCAA began allowing freshman to compete in 1972, with the 2012 season marking the 40 year anniversary. In total, 25 Sun Devils saw their first Division I action and seven true freshmen played (Evan Goodman, Laiu Moekiola, Carlos Mendoza, Easton Wahlstrom and Richard Smith in addition to Foster and Hood).

STRIKE FIRST...STRIKE FAST: ASU got back to the offensive ways that helped them in its first two games in a dominating effort against Utah after struggling against Missouri. The Sun Devils scored on five consecutive possession against the Utes (getting on the board first for the third time this season) to start the game and put it away early. Arizona State scored on six of its first seven possessions against NAU and four of its first five against Illinois. ASU has put games away early in its three victories, outscoring the opposition 49-10 in the first quarter of games on the year. The Sun Devils didn't have a scoring drive longer than three minutes against the Fighting Illini, its longest lasting 2:59. In fact, Sun Devil broke the four minute barrier for a scoring possession for the first time this season while running out the clock against Utah and have had 18 scoring drives under three minutes this season.

FINISH STRONG: While ASU has gotten out to several fast starts this season, the team has closed impressively, not allowing a single fourth quarter point on the year and outscoring opponents 40-0 in the frame.

PUSH `EM BACK: ASU has prided itself on it's aggressive defense through four games this year, having forced 39 tackles for a loss of 148 total yards - a mark that leads the nation after posting 10 such plays against Utah. Not only is ASU getting into the backfield, but it has been a team effort as 16 different players have logged a TFL through four games. As a whole ASU has a combined 54 defensive plays that have gone for a loss or no gain out of 277 plays the opposition has run. That means an incredibly 19.5 percent of the plays run by opponents this year have not advanced beyond the line of scrimmage. If you tack on incomplete passes to the mix, then ASU has forced 103 plays that did not result in positive yardage (37.2 percent of opponent's plays from scrimmage).

FOREVER YOUNG: One of the driving forces behind ASU's tackle for loss numbers has been SPUR linebacker Chris Young, who has 8.5 tackles for loss this season through four games. That's a mark that ranks 11th in the nation and is currently second in the conference. To put that number into perspective, Arizona State had no player with more than eight tackles for loss on the entire season in 2011 (Oliver Aaron finished with 8.0). With 32 total tackles, Young leads the team and ranks second in the conference.

THE WILL TO SUCCEED: Perhaps no player on ASU's roster has earned as much praise from Todd Graham as junior defensive tackle Will Sutton. Sutton has been a beast on the interior line for ASU, posting 6.0 tackles for loss on the season (second on team), 3.5 sacks (leads team) and 26 total tackles (second on team). Sutton is current tied for 33rd in the nation in TFL and is tied for 34th in sacks.

NOT PLAYING COY: Chris Coyle had a coming out party against Illinois, snagging 10 catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers put the junior in pretty select company at a school with a pretty decent history at the tight end position. His 10 grabs tie for the 15th most ever by a Sun Devil in history and also put him in a tie with Zach Miller as the most single-game snags by a tight end in school history. In addition, his 131 receiving yards are the second most for a tight end in school history behind only Todd Heap's 170 yards against Arizona in 1999. Here's a look at how Coyle's game stacks up against the greats:

Chris Coyle Career Highs
Receptions: 10 vs. Illinois (9/8/12)
Receiving Yards: 131 vs. Illinois (9/8/12)
Longest Reception: 49 vs. NAU (8/30/12)
Touchdowns: 2 vs. Illinois (9/8/12)

Todd Heap Career Highs
Receptions: 8 at Notre Dame (10/9/99).
Receiving Yards: 170 vs. Arizona (11/27/99).
Longest Reception: 50 vs. California (10/7/00).
Touchdowns: 2 vs. Arizona (11/27/98).

Zach Miller Career Highs
Receptions: 10, twice, last at Washington State (11/5/05)
Receiving Yards: 102, at USC (10/16/04)
Receiving Touchdowns: 2, vs. Iowa (9/18/04)

MORE ON COYLE: Coyle's performance did not go unnoticed. Having just posted 73 yards receiving in all of last season, the performance against Illinois garnered Coyle honors as the College Football Performance Awards Football Bowl Subdivision Tight End Performer of the Week. As of Sept. 17, Coyle leads the nation's tight ends in receiving yards on the season with 301 and is second in tight end receptions at 32. He also is earning a reputation as Mr. Reliable, having caught 22 balls thrown his way and dropping just one.

BETTER SUITED FOR HANDKERCHIEFS: The Sun Devils haven't given the referees much reason to reach for their pockets this season. ASU was penalized just once for five yards against Illinois (on what appeared to be a purposeful delay of game to create some space for a punt). That marked the lowest single-game total since 2006, when ASU was penalized once for five yards against Washington State. On the year, ASU has had just 20 penalties for 140 yards. ASU had just its first penalty on defense called in the Missouri game, and despite having seven penalties for 54 yards in the game, ASU still leads the Pac-12 and is12 in the nation with 29.7 penalty yards per game. Here's a look at ASU's lowest single game penalties since 2006:

Pen/Yards -- Opponent (Date)
1-5 -- Vs. Illinois (2012)
1-5 --vs. Washington State (2006)
3-20 --Vs. UCLA (2006)
3-20 -- Vs. USC (2007)
4-30 -- Vs. NAU (2012)
4-35 -- Vs. UNLV (2008)
4-31 -- Vs. Washington (2010)
4-35 -- Vs. USC (2010)
4-40 --Vs. UC Davis (2011)

SECONDARY A PRIMARY: The season is young yet, but ASU's secondary has been a dominant force through two games this year. The unit ranks fifth nationally in both pass defense (139.8) pass efficiency defense (92.5) and leads the Pac-12 in both. Not a bad start for a group that finished 11th and ninth, respectively, in those categories in the conference last season. In addition, the squad's eight interceptions this year (giving some love to the linebackers, who have four of those) is second in the nation.

MARSHALL OF THE TOUCHDOWN: With his rushing touchdown against Utah, Cameron Marshall has rushed for 33 touchdowns in his career with Arizona State. He is one of only 11 Sun Devils all time to score at least 20 touchdowns on the ground and just the fourth to eclipse 30 career rushing touchdowns. Marshall is currently third on ASU's all-time rushing TD list with J.R. Redmond behind just Woody Green (39) and Leon Burton (34). 

Most Career Rushing TDs in ASU History
TDs -- Player, Years 
39 -- Woody Green, 1971-73
34 -- Leon Burton, 1955-58
32 -- J.R. Redmond, 1996-99
33 -- Cameron Marshall, 2009-Present
28 -- Art Malone, 1967-69
25 -- Ben Malone, 1971-73
23 -- Nolan Jones, 1958-61

AMONG THE NCAA'S BEST: With his 18 rushing touchdowns in 2011, Marshall returned in 2012 as the nation's fourth-leading returning rushing scorer among NCAA Division I-A student-athletes. Only Wisconsin's Heisman Trophy finalist Monte Ball (33), KSU quarterback Collin Klein (27) and Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle (24) return having found pay dirt on the ground more than Marshall last season. In addition, Marshall's 33 career rushing touchdowns rank him fifth among active Division I-A student-athletes returning in 2012 that played in 2011. In that category only Ball (55), Klein (37), SMU running back Zach Line (36) and Michigan QB Denard Robinson (38) have more. 

Name, School / 2011 / 2012 / Career
Montee Ball, Wisc. / 33 / 3 / 58
Collin Klein, KSU / 27 / 5 / 38
Joseph Randle, OSU / 24 / 4 / 28
Cameron Marshall, ASU / 18 / 4 / 33
Zach Line, SMU / 17 / 2 / 36
Denard Robinson, Mich. / 16 / 4 / 39

OH, HE CAN CATCH ALSO: If you've gotten tired of Cameron Marshall's resume on the ground, he has pretty good hands also. Research done by University of Virginia Assistant Athletics Media Relations Director Vincent Briedis shows that Marshall returned in 2012 with the seventh-highest career receptions among active running backs at an FBS institution with 47. Marshall has four receptions on the season and now has 51 in his career, taking one for a touchdown against Utah.

RETURN RECORD: Jamal Miles now has 1,645 kickoff return yards in his career. With a 31-yard return to start the game against Illinois and one other kick return, Miles passed Rudy Burgess (2004-07) for the top spot in Sun Devil history. Chris Hopkins (1992-95) is third with 1,225 yards. In his prior three seasons in Tempe, Miles had returned 69 kickoffs for 1631 yards and three touchdowns. Miles totaled 788 of those yards last season, the second highest single-season total in ASU history. Miles' total was second only to the 879 yards that Burgess gained in 2007. Miles has 70 career kick returns, giving him an average of 23.5 yards per return. Burgess had 68 returns, with an average of 22.3 yards per return. Miles has three kick return TDs, while Burgess had one.

JUST KICKING IT: Alex Garoutte bumped his extra point streak to 66 against the Utes, going 4-for-4 on extra points. He also notched his second, third and fourth field goal of the year from 22, 22 and 43 yards out against Utah and is now 18-27 in his career. Garoutte turned in a solid season in his first year as the kicker. Garoutte finished the year with 108 points, tops on the team. He finished the 2011 season 52-53 on PATs, with his only miss a block and closed out the year with 45 straight extra points.

TAYLOR GANG: For the fourth time in as many years, the Sun Devil season opener featured a new quarterback under center. Redshirt sophomore Taylor Kelly made his first career start against NAU and followed Danny Sullivan (2009), Steven Threet (2010) and Brock Osweiler (2011) as the fourth different quarterback to start on opening day since Rudy Carpenter started three straight from 2006-08. Sullivan and Threet were making their first career starts period, while Osweiler had made a start later in the season in 2009 and 2010. Since 1997, ASU quarterbacks making their first career start are 9-5. 
According to research done by Jack Duggan at the University of Southern Mississippi, Arizona State is one of just 13 FBS schools that returned no quarterback with a start for the 2012 season. That list included: Akron, Arizona State, Boise State, East Carolina, Hawai'i, LSU, Memphis, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma State, Southern Miss, Stanford and Texas A&M. 


Taylor Kelly 2012/N. Arizona/W, 63-6 15/19, 247 yards, 1TD, 0 INT
Steven Threet 2010/Portland State, W, 54-9 14/21, 339 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Brock Osweiler* 2009/Oregon, L, 44-21 5/10, 14 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Samson Szakacsy 2009/UCLA, L, 23-13 15/22, 197 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Danny Sullivan 2009/Idaho State, W, 50-3 13/25, 165 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rudy Carpenter 2005/Washington, W, 44-20 27/34, 401 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Sam Keller 2004/Purdue, W, 27-23 25/45, 370 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Chad Christensen 2002/Nebraska, L, 48-10 6/16, 77 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Andrew Walter 2001/Arizona, L, 34-21 10/22, 132 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Jeff Krohn 2000/San Diego St., W, 10-7 18/42, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Griffin Goodman 1999/Wake Forest, L, 23-3 10/16, 142 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Chad Elliott** 1998/Stanford, W, 44-38 OT 8/17, 92 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Steve Campbell 1997/Iowa, W, 17-7 5/11, 109 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Ryan Kealy 1997/New Mexico St., W, 41-10 11/19, 107 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

* -- Osweiler left the game early due to injury
** -- Elliott left the game early and Ryan Kealy led the team to the overtime victory

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: It's hard to doubt the benefits of ASU's two quarterback system when you look at the results thus far. Taylor Kelly currently finds himself ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 182.3 while Michael Eubank has added two touchdowns both by air and on the ground. Together, the two quarterbacks find themselves 78-for-107 for 1,112 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions and a 181.9 passing efficiency. As if that weren't enough, the two have combined for 50 rushes for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

WELCOME BACK, BRANDON: After sitting out Arizona State's victory against Illinois, senior Brandon Magee made up for lost time against Mizzou, collecting 12 tackles (eight solo) to lead the team while also nabbing his second interception of the season. Magee returned one 45 yards for his first career pick-six against NAU in the opener. Magee earned College Football Performance Awards Bowl Subdivision Linebacker Honorable Mention honors for week three for the performance. Against Utah, Magee forced one fumble and recovered another while adding 10 tackles as he is proving to be a force to be reckoned with from his linebacker position. Magee missed the entire 2011 season with an Achilles injury.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP: The 2012 Sun Devil roster features 17 seniors at the time of publication, many of which who will play pivotal roles as the season goes on. Senior RB Cameron Marshall, OL Andrew Sampson, LB Brandon Magee and S Keelan Johnson have been named captains for the 2012 season.

EARN YOUR KEEP: ASU has had seven players score their first career touchdowns this season: Taylor Kelly (pass), D.J. Foster (rush), Brandon Magee (INT return), Marion Grice (rush), Michael Eubank (rush) and Richard Smith (reception) - all against NAU. Brandon Magee put his name on the top of that list with a 45-yard interception return for a pick-six against NAU. Chris Coyle added his first career TD grab against Illinois, which also served as Eubank's first career touchdown toss. PIN `EM DEEP: Redshirt senior punter Josh Hubner was among the best punters in the nation when it came to pinning opponents down the field, finishing the year tied for 17th in the nation with 24 punts inside the 20. He's back at it again in 2012 as he now has eight punts on the year inside the 20 (out of 14 total punts) and is averaging 45.9 yards per punt, a mark that ranks second in the conference. Quarterback Taylor Kelly also showed off his talents in the category, having two pooch kicks this year (one for 40 yards against Utah) to down the opponents inside the 20 on both attempts.

IF YOU GOT IT, FLAUNT IT: The Sun Devils played seven true freshmen in their season opener against NAU (Evan Goodman, Laiu Moekiola, Carlos Mendoza, Richard Smith, D.J. Foster Jaxon Hood and long snapper Easton Wahlstrom). The school record for true freshmen playing in season is 10, set back in 2008. According to research done by Colorado Dave Plati, the three true freshmen that started at their positions (Foster, Hood and Wahlstrom) ties with Washington for the most in the conference in the first week of action.

EMERSON HARVEY: Arizona State University football will commemorate a milestone this season by honoring Emerson Harvey, the school's first African-American football student-athlete 75 years ago and played a major role in breaking the color barrier throughout the Southwest. The Sun Devils will recognize Harvey, who joined the roster in 1937, with black-and-white circular helmet stickers with Harvey's jersey number (57).

FIRST IMPRESSION WAS GOOD: ASU's 63 points vs. NAU in the Todd Graham debut is the most by a Sun Devil coach in his opener, topping the 47 scored by Frank Kush's squad in 1958 over Hawaii. Not all openers were great for eventual great coaches though, as ASU's 1996 National Coach of the Year Bruce Snyder scored seven in his first game in a 31-7 loss to second-ranked Washington on Sept. 5, 1992.

Most Points in ASU Coaching Debut
PTS / Coach Year (Result) 
63 / Todd Graham vs. NAU 2012 (W)
47 / Frank Kush vs. Hawaii 1958 (W)
45 / Dennis Erickson vs. San Jose St. 2007 (W)
39 / Ted Shipkey vs. Gila JC 1930 (W)
38 / Dirk Koetter vs. San Diego St. 2001 (W)
33 / Ed Doherty vs. Cal-Poly 1947 (W)
33 / Larry Siemering vs. Utah State 1951 (W)

INFO-GRAHAM: So you want to know more about what Todd Graham brings to the program? Here's a couple more stats and tidbits about the ASU head coach to give you an idea. Special thanks Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic for all this information :
--Over his past four seasons -- one at Pittsburgh and three at Tulsa -- Graham's teams have rushed the ball on at least 53.4 percent of their total plays. In 2008, Tulsa rushed on 61.4 percent of its total plays. Last year, ASU rushed 44.5 percent of the time.
--Over the past six seasons at Pitt, Tulsa and Rice, only one Graham-coached team has ranked outside the top 50 nationally in sacks. Last year, Pittsburgh averaged 3.31 sacks, which ranked third nationally.
--In six seasons, Graham is 19-17 in true road games. Over the past four, ASU is 5-16.
--In five of the past six years, Graham's teams have ranked 39th or better nationally in fewest penalty yards per game. In 2008, Tulsa averaged just 37 penalty yards, which ranked 11th in the nation. Last season, Pitt averaged 39.5, which ranked 18th.

Follow Doug Haller on Twitter: @DougHaller

MORE ON PENALTIES: Todd Graham has had a knack for having some of the most disciplined teams in the nation when it comes to penalty yards. In each of his seven seasons as a head coach, Graham's teams have ranked as some of the least penalized teams in the country in both yards and penalties per game. In 2012, the Sun Devils currently rank 30th in fewest penatlies and 12 in fewest penality yards per game.

STARTING ON THE RIGHT FOOT: Todd Graham became just the seventh Sun Devil coach to start his career 2-0. Before you ask about Frank, Coach Kush beat Hawaii 47-6 on Sept. 20th, 1958, in his opener but fell to Pacific 34-16 on Sept. 27, 1958. Graham is among seven coaches in the 2012 season that have a winning record thus far in their first year at the helm of a new program. There were 28 FBS coaches entering their first years at their respective schools this year.


Ohio State (Urban Meyer): 4-0
Rutgers (Kyle Flood): 4-0
Arizona (Rich Rodriguez): 3-1
Arizona State (Todd Graham): 3-1
Mississippi (Hugh Freeze): 3-1
Toledo (Matt Campbell): 3-1
UCLA (Jim Mora): 3-1

LIGHT `EM UP: With 108 points in its first two games, Arizona State set its highest tally through the first two games of the season in ASU history (now in its 100th season). The prior record was 94 points, set under Dirk Koetter in 2005 as his team put up 63 points in a season opening victory against Temple before adding 31 in a tough loss against LSU the following week. At 41.2 points per game, ASU currently ranks 17th nationally in scoring offense.

NOTE ON QB'S: Barring an unforseen circumstance, Arizona State will be facing its first starting quarterback since the first half of the NAU game when it takes on Cal this week. Jon Hays made the start in place of Jordan Wynn for the Utes last weekend. Arizona State faced NAU's original starter, Cary Grossart, but he left the game early in the second quarter and forcing Chase Cartwright to finish the game. Against Illinois, starter Nathan Scheelhaase sat out while James Franklin missed the Missouri game. There are no indications that Cal's Zach Maynard won't play this weekend.