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Sun Devil football opens Pac-12 play against Utah

September 20, 2012

Arizona State, Utah are 2-1 heading into conference opener

The Arizona State Sun Devils return home after dropping their first game of the season - a 24-20 decision at Missouri - to open up the Pac-12 Conference Slate against the Utah Utes. Both teams enter the game with a 2-1 record on the year and are both making their conference opener. The Sun Devils are 5-5 in conference openers in the last 10 seasons. ASU holds a 17-6-0 all-time record against Utah and has won the last six games in Tempe. The game will get under way at 7 p.m. PST and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. ASU is 563-357-24 (.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 132 and SiriusXM Channel 190.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: This week's matchup will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. Kevin Calabro will provide the play-by-play with Adam Archuleta serving as the game analyst. Yogi Roth will provide the sideline reports. This is the second Arizona State game to be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. it should also be noted that Archuleta is among the greats to come through the ranks at ASU, named as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 despite coming to Arizona State as a walk-on originally. The Pac-12 Networks can be found on Dish Network Channel 413. Check your local listings or this link at the Pac-12 Website for alternative channels:

SUN DEVILS vs. UTES: Arizona State and Utah have faced each other 23 times, and this is just the second meeting since 1993. ASU leads the all-time series 17-6, including a 13-3 record at home. 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. In the first trip back to Salt Lake City since 1977, ASU downed Utah last season in the Utes' first season in the Pac-12, 35-14. ASU has won eight in a row in the series, including the last six in Tempe.

NOTE ON QBS: Arizona State will be facing its fourth consecutive back-up quarterback when it takes on Utah this week. Jon Hays will likely make the start in place of Jordan Wynn for the Utes. 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 Jason Franklin missed the Missouri game.

RECAP - ARIZONA STATE VS. MISSOURI: Corbin Berkstresser ran for a score in his first career start at quarterback in place of injured James Franklin, and Missouri's defense forced four turnovers to ease the pressure on the redshirt freshman in a 24-20 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night. Missouri (2-1) built a 17-point cushion in the third quarter in front of a sellout crowd of 71,004, the school's first for a non-conference game since Notre Dame in 1984. The Tigers held on late a week after fizzling late in a 21-point loss to No. 7 Georgia that spoiled the school's SEC debut. Marion Grice scored on a pair of fourth-quarter runs that cut the deficit to four for Arizona State (2-1), which had a fumbled snap on the second extra-point kick. Arizona State had chances late got the go-ahead score but couldn't punch it in from the one-yard line on one possession and Taylor Kelly was picked off in the end zone on the ensuing possession to seal the deal for the Tigers.

-The team wore white helmets, white jerseys and maroon pants for the first time ever.
-Missouri's 46-yard field goal on their opening drive was the first points given up in the first quarter by the Sun Devils this season 
-An illegal conduct call against Chris Young on the third play of the game was the first defensive penalty of the season for ASU
-The defense started in a 4-3 formation for the first time this season, with linebacker Carl Bradford on the end in a three-point stance
-Freshman defensive tackle Jaxon Hood collected his first career sack for a 3-yard loss 
-Converted running back Deantre Lewis saw his first career action on defense. He lined up at SPUR backer after making the transition to the other side of the ball this past week
-Freshman running back DJ Foster picked up his first career receiving touchdown on a 33-yard screen pass from Taylor Kelly
-71,004 fans were at the game to give Missouri its first non-conference sellout since 1985 against Notre Dame
-Running back Marion Grice had six carries for two touchdowns against the Tigers to add to his 14 carries and three touchdowns in the season opener vs. NAU. Grice now has 22 carries on the season and five touchdowns, which means he has scored a touchdown every 4.4 times he runs the ball
-ASU's defense has not yielded a fourth quarter point this season, fact that gave ASU a shot against Mizzou

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 anniversery. 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).

LIGHT `EM UP: With 108 points in its first two games two games, Arizona State currently ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense. For what it's worth, that is the 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 at LSU the following week.

EARN YOUR KEEP: ASU has had seven players score their first touchdown this season: Taylor Kelly (pass), D.J. Foster (rush), Brandon Magee (INT return), Marion Grice (rush), Michael Eubank (pass/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.

STRIKE FIRST...STRIKE FAST: ASU will look to get back to the offensive ways that helped them in its first two games after struggling against Missouri. The Sun Devils scored on four of their first five drives against Illinois (and the first drive went all the way to the Illinois one-yard line before a Cameron Marshall fumble) and got on the board first firs the second consecurive game. Arizona State scored on six of its first seven possesions against NAU. The Sun Devils didn't have a scoring drive longer than three minutes against the Fighting Illini, its longest lasting 2:59. In fact, the longest drive of the season thus far actually came when ASU was running clock out in the fourth and lasted a grand total of 3:44. ASU did not score until its eighth drive of the game against Missouri, though all their touchdown drives came in times of 1:49, 2:11 and 3:24.

PUSH `EM BACK: ASU has prided itself on it's agressive defense through three games this year, having forced 29 tackles for a loss of 116 total yards. Not only is ASU getting into the backfield, but it has been a team effort as 14 different players have logged a TFL through three games. As a whole ASU has a combined 40 defensive plays that have been stopped for a loss or no gain. That means 17.9 percent of the plays that that the opponents have run this year have not advanced beyond the line of scrimmage.

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 garned 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 239 and is second in tight end receptions at 17. He also is earning a reputation as Mr. Reliable, having caught 17 balls throw 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 five penalties for 35 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 is seventh 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 ninth nationally in pass defense (147.3) and 13th in pass efficiency defense (84.5) 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 seven interceptions this year (giving some love to the linebackers, who have four of those) leads the nation.

MARSHALL OF THE TOUCHDOWN: With his touchdown against Illinois, Cameron Marshall has rushed for 32 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 currently tied for 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
32 -- 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 returns 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 32 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 / 1 / 56
Collin Klein, KSU / 27 / 3 / 39
Joseph Randle, OSU / 24 / 2 / 26
Cameron Marshall, ASU / 18 / 3 / 32
Zach Line, SMU / 17 / 2 / 36
Denard Robinson, Mich. / 16 / 3 / 38

RETURN RECORD: Jamal Miles now has 1,631 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 has 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 66 career kick returns, giving him an average of 23.7 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. Against Missouri, Miles had four punt returns for 36 yards, including an impressive 25-yarder late to give ASU a shot at the upset.

JUST KICKING IT: Alex Garoutte bumped his extra point streak to 62 against the Tigers, going 2-for-2 on extra points. He also notched his first field goal of the year from 35 yards out against Illinois and is now 16-23 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 20th nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 193.49 while Michael Eubank has added two touchdowns both by air and on the ground. Together, the two quarterbacks find themselves 55-for-76 for 750 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 171.71 passing efficiency. As if that weren't enough, the two have combined for 46 rushes for 196 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. 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.

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 six punts on the year inside the 20 and is averaging 46.9 yards per punt, a mark that ranks fifth nationally and second in the conference. Quarterback Taylor Kelly also showed off his talents in the category, pooch kicking a ball late in the second quarter 32 yards to pin the Lumberjacks inside their 20 as well.

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.

ARIZONA STATE vs. THE BIG TEN SUPERLATIVES: The Sun Devils added to a pretty good streak vs. Big Ten teams at Sun Devil Stadium with its victory over Illinois. Actually, a streak that can't be any better. ASU is now 8-0 vs. Big Ten teams in Tempe, including big wins in its past three games against Northwestern (52-21 on Sept. 17, 2005) and then No. 16 Iowa (44-7 on Sept. 18, 2004) and Illinois this year. This list doesn't include one of the biggest wins in school history against a current team in the Big Ten, as Nebraska didn't score a point on Sept. 21, 1996 when they were ranked No. 1. ASU has outscored its past three Big Ten opponents on Frank Kush Field 141-42, and in the eight games ASU has outscored its Big Ten 320-111 (40.0 to 13.9 per game).

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

STARTING ON THE RIGHT FOOT: Todd Graham is 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 six coaches in the 2012 season that are undefeated in their first year at the helm. There were 28 FBS coaches entering their first years at their respective schools this year.


Todd Graham (ASU) 
Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) 
Hugh Freeze (Mississippi) 
Urban Meyer (Ohio State) 
Kyle Flood (Rutgers) 
Jim Mora (UCLA)