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The Arizona State University Sun Devil football program is currently in its 101st season of competition in 2013. The Sun Devils are 571-362-24 (.609) all-time and have appeared in 26 bowl games, compiling a 13-12-1 record in such contests. Arizona State kicked off the 2013 campaign with a rout over Sacramento State in a rare Thursday night tilt, knocking off the Hornets 55-0 at Sun Devil Stadium, followed by a dramatic 32-30 victory over No. 20 Wisconsin. Head coach Todd Graham now has 59 victories in his career as D-1 head coach. It was also a small milestone for the second-year Sun Devil coach as it marked the 10th victory since joining ASU.
The Sun Devil hit the road for the first time this season against another national powerhouse to take on No. 5/No. 5 Stanford in the team’s Pac-12 opener in Palo Alto. ASU enters the weekend ranked No. 23 in both the AP and Coaches Polls, marking the first the team has been ranked since Oct. 30, 2011, when the team was No. 20 in the AP Poll. The Sun Devils will kick off at 4 p.m. on FOX.
ON THE AIR The MidFirst Bank Sun Devil-IMG Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU’s football games live on its 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 92.3 KTAR FM. Weekly radio coverage begins two hours prior to kickoff with the “Talking Stick Resort Sun Devil Tailgate Show,” hosted by Doug Franz. The game will also be broadcast on Sirius and XM Channel 91, though that will be a Stanford broadcast. The game will also be aired nationally by Sports USA Media. Visit their website at sportsmediausa.com for local listings.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION Saturday’s contest will mark the first game for the Sun Devils this season that will be broadcast on FOX. Gus Johnson will provide the call with Charles Davis alongside as his analyst. Kristina Pink will provide insight from the side lines.
ON THE CARDINAL Arizona State is 16-11 all-time against Stanford but has struggled on the road, compiling just a 6-7 record all-time but going just 1-5 since 2000 in Palo Alto. ASU has dropped the last two contests to the Cardinal, a 17-13 defeat in Tempe in 2010 and a 33-14 loss in Palo Alto in 2009. Stanford enters the game ranked No. 5 in the nation in both the AP and Coaches Polls and is currently 2-0 this season with victories over San Jose State (34-13) and Army (34-20). With those victories, Stanford now has a winning streak that dates back 10 games to last season.
PAC-12 NOTABLES The Sun Devils and Cardinal will each be making their Pac-12 debuts this weekend, becoming the fifth and sixth teams in the conference to do so. ASU is 6-3 in its last nine Pac-12 openers and winners of the last two (over USC in 2011 and Utah last season). Saturday’s contest features the first Pac-12 bout of the season between two squads currently ranked in both of the major polls. Due to the nature of Pac-12 scheduling since the addition of Colorado and Utah, this will mark the first contest between ASU and Stanford since 2010, with the team’s missing each other in the schedule the previous two seasons. ASU gained the Cardinal and Washington to their schedule for at least the next two seasons and loss Oregon and Cal for the same time length after playing both the previous two seasons.
NOTABLE NUMBERS A couple numbers to keep an eye on come Saturday
--Marion Grice found the end zone 19 times last year, tying him for third on ASU’s all-time single-season touchdown list with Woody Green (1972) behind just Wilford White (22/1950) and Terry Battle (20/1996). His 114 points on the year tied him for fifth on ASU’s all-time single season scoring list behind White, Battle and placekickers Thomas Weber and Mike Barth. In his last five games dating back to last season, Grice has found the end zone 12 times (10 rushing, two receiving) and is averaging a TD ever 7.5 times he touches the ball.
--ASU finished 2012 tied for 10th in fewest penalties per game at 4.23 and eighth in fewest penalty yards per game at 34.92. The Sun Devils finished dead last (120th) in the FBS in 2011. ASU leads the nation in 2013, averaging just 10 penalty yards per game over the first two games of the season.
--In his his last five games dating back to 2012, Taylor Kelly has thrown for 13 touchdowns and one interception, completing 105-of-153 off his passes (.686) for 1,357 yards (271.4 ypg). He has amassed an impressive 169.86 quarterback rating during that span.
--One team will have to end their winning streak this weekend in Palo Alto. ASU enters the weekend having won five straight dating back to last season while Stanford is victors of 10 straightand hasn’t lost since a heartbreaker at Notre Dame last year.
--Fans shouldn’t to expect penalties to play a large role in Saturday’s contest. ASU is ranked tied for third in penaties per game at 2.0 and is first nationally in yards per game at 10.0 Stanford is first nationally with just 1.5 penalties per game and tied for fifth at 20.0 yards per game given up to penalties.
-With his 10th victory as the Sun Devil head coach in the win over Wisconsin, Todd Graham joined John Cooper and Dan Devine behind Dennis Erikson as the only coaches in ASU history to pick up by the second game of their second season as head coach. Erikson accomplished the feat in the his first year at the help. Frank Kush picked up his 10th win in his third game as head coach in the second season.
--Secondaries are likely to play a large role in Saturday’s contest with ASU entering the game averaging 358.5 yards per game through the air through two games this season. However, Stanford is ranked seventh nationally in passing defense, allowing just 132.5 yards per game to their opponents this season. ASU is not far behind their opposition, currently sitting 19th nationally and allowing just 163 passing yards per game to date this season.
--For the first time since Taylor Kelly took over as the team’s starting quarterback, the Sun Devils won a game in which Kelly threw and interception. Prior to the Wisconsin win, ASU was 0-5 in such contests.
RECAP - ASU v. WISCONSIN Marion Grice scored two of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Arizona State survived a bizarre ending to beat No. 20 Wisconsin 32-30. Grice scored on a 1-yard run in the closing seconds of the third quarter, then on runs of 2 and 12 yards in the fourth to put Arizona State (2-0) up 32-24. Wisconsin (2-1) used a fake punt to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon, but still trailed 32-30 when its 2-point conversion failed. Gordon ran for 193 yards on 15 carries, but the game will be remembered for the strange ending. Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly hit 29 of 51 passes -- many of those on back-shoulder throws along the sideline -- for 352 yards and a touchdown. Grice finished with 84 yards on 22 carries to help Arizona State kick off a tough stretch in the schedule with a big non-conference win.
OTHER NOTES WISCONSIN
-Arizona State is 3-1 all-time in the series against Wisconsin, and came up one point short on a blocked extra point from possibly holding a perfect 4-0 record after falling to the Badgers in Madison in 2010, 20-19.
-Marion Grice became the first Sun Devil to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Mike Williams ran for four at Arizona on Nov. 29, 2002. Before this explosive performance, Grice’s personal record was three touchdowns in one game, which came in the season opener last season against NAU.
-Arizona State recorded 12 explosive plays on the Badgers, ten of which came through the air. An explosive play is defined as a reception of 16+ yards or a rush of 12+ yards. Jaelen Strong accounted for four of the ten explosive catches, and one-third of the team’s explosive plays. Three explosive plays came in one drive, an eight-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown while taking only 1:41 off the clock.
-Grandville Taylor made his mark in the season opener with an interception and a fumble recovery to go along with four tackles. Against the Badgers, Taylor again found a way to make an impact on the game, logging his second fumble recovery of the season.
-Taylor Kelly had completed 130-straight passes without an interception before throwing a pick in the third quarter. Kelly had thrown 13 touchdown passes in his last four games without throwing an interception.
-Taylor Kelly’s 29-yard punt in the first quarter forced Wisconsin to start its drive at its own 8-yard line. Of Kelly’s nine career punts, eight of them have been downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
STRIKE FIRST ASU made a habit of scoring first last season, doing so 11 times in 13 games. The Sun Devils picked up when they left off this season, scoring first in each of the team’s two games thus far. The Sun Devils are now 9-4 in the Todd Graham era when getting on the scoreboard first.
STRIKE FAST ASU The quick-hitting offense was a staple of the team, with 58 of ASU’s 75 offensive scoring drives last season coming in three minutes or less. There was much of the same against Sacramento State as ASU had seven of their nine scoring drives come in three minutes or less. The two that went longer spanned just 3:24 and 3:54. The other seven came in 2:23 or less with four of those coming in 1:45 or quicker. Oddly enough, ASU survived on longer drives against Wisconsin with just two of its six scoring drives coming under three minutes. ASU had drives of 4:20 and 4:26 against Wisconsin, a feat made notable as the team had just THREE total drives going longer than four minutes last season. That being said, ASU still has maintained a high number of quick scoring drives this season, scoring in three minutes or less on 10 of the team’s 15 scoring drives to date.
START STRONG...FINISH STRONG Following a 3-0 box score after one quarter against Wisconsin, the Sun Devils have now outscored their opposition 162-69 in the first quarter under Todd Graham. Perhaps the more telling statistic, however, is the fact the Sun Devils are now 9-0 under Graham when holding their opposition scoreless in the first and have done so in both games they have played this season. . Outscoring the Badgers 13-9 in the fourth quarter, ASU has now outscored its opposition by a score of 142-71 in the fourth quarter of games under Graham.
PUSH ‘EM BACK ASU prided itself on its aggressive defense last season, forcing 117 tackles for a loss of 497 total yards - a 9.00 TFL per game mark that led the nation. As a whole, ASU had a combined 155 defensive plays that went for a loss or no gain out of 953 offensive plays the opposition ran and if you tack on incomplete passes to the mix, then ASU forced 341 plays that did not result in positive yardage (35.8 percent of opponent’s plays from scrimmage). ASU had six tackles for loss against Wisconsin and three stops at the line of scrimmage out of 63 offensive plays run by the Badgers (14.3 percent). With incomplete passes added to the mix, ASU limited the Badgers to 24 out of 63 plays that didn’t earn positive yardage (38.1 percent). To date this season, the ASU defense has held offenses to 43 plays (out of 117 by the opposition) that have not earned positive yardage - a 36.8 percentage rate of plays run from the line of scrimmage.
WINNING BY WAY OF TKO (TAYLOR KELLY OFFENSE) Taylor Kelly had a career-high performance in completions, attempts and yards going 29-of-51 for 352 yards against Wisconsin. Despite that, he had just his second game as a starter without throwing a touchdown. He did however, end one of the more glaring streaks on his record as the team was victorious despite the fact he threw an interception in the game. Prior to the Badger game, ASU was 0-5 in games when Kelly had thrown an interception. Taylor Kelly had completed 130-straight passes without an interception before throwing a pick in the third quarter of the Wisconsin contest. Kelly had thrown 13 touchdown passes in the previous four games without throwing an interception. The school record holder in completion percentage and efficiency, In his his last five games dating back to 2012, Taylor Kelly has thrown for 13 touchdowns and one interception, completing 105-of-153 off his passes (.686) for 1,357 yards (271.4 ypg). He has amassed an impressive 169.86 quarterback rating during that span. According to ESPN Stats and Info, is second in the country with five games with a Total QBR over 95 behind only Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.
SECONDARY A PRIMARY ASU’s secondary was among its driving forces last season. The unit finished the season ranked third nationally in passing defense (167.92) and 10th in passing efficiency defense (105.45), leading the Pac-12 in both. In addition, the squad’s 21 interceptions last year (giving some love to the linebackers, who had six of those and returned two for touchdowns) were tied for fourth in the nation. Thus far this season, the secondary hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, having held the opposition to 28-of-54 passing with just one touchdown to two interceptions and 326 yards. ASU currently ranks 19th nationally, allowing just 163.0 passing yards per game while the team sits 18th nationally in allowing a quarterback efficiency mark of just 101.3 thus far thus season.
GRICE, GRICE BABY Marion Grice proved to be one of the top junior college additions in the country last year after leading the team with 19 touchdowns (11 rushing, eight receiving) on the season - tied for the third-highest single season total in school history behind just Wilford White (1950, 22) and Terry Battle (1996, 20) on the all-time list. His 114 points on the year tie for fifth on ASU’s all-time single-season points scored list. Grice’s knack for finding the end zone became commonplace, as he posted touchdowns on 19 of his 144 offensive touches last year (13.2 percent). His eight receiving touchdowns led the nation for receiving touchdowns by a running back and he finished tied for 14th in the country in total touchdowns. Grice has picked up where he left this season, scoring six TDs through two games and now has 12 touchdowns (10 rushing, two receiving) over the last four games - averaging a score every 7.5 touches in that span - equalling his conference leading tally from last season. He currently is second in the conference among players with at least 30 touches with a touchdown be 7.5 touches behind Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (currently averaging a touchdown per five touches). Grice does, however, lead the nation in scoring currently at 18.0 points per game.
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE Marion Grice and D.J. Foster are two of just five FBS players that return this season that had both 400 yards on the ground AND through the air last year. and played a large part in a running-back-by-committee approach last season that accounted for a large chunk of ASU’s total yardage on the season. The pair combined for 11 of ASU’s 32 first downs against Wisconsin (7 for Grice and 4 for Foster). Thus far this season, Grice and Foster have combined for 388 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. The 388 yards represents 39.2 percent of ASU’s TOTAL yards from scrimmage to date this season.
FOSTER THE PEOPLE D.J. Foster came to ASU last season as what many considered the “gem” of the Sun Devil recruiting class and he lived up to the hype. Foster was second on the team in all-purpose yardage with 1,026 yards this year (493 on the ground and 533 by air). His ability to make what the ASU coaching staff calls “explosive plays” (rushes of 12 or more yards, receptions of 16 or more yards) helped him stand out amongst an offense full of talented players as he led the team in such plays with 31 total (18 receiving and 13 rushing). Foster had a strong game against Wisconsin with five rushes for 27 yards and a team-leading seven receptions for 69 yards.
#DYNAMICDUODEUX Grice and Foster return 2,130 combined yards from last season (1,172 rushing, 958 receiving) and 25 touchdowns. Among Pac-12 programs returning dual backs where one back didn’t take over 75 percent of the touches between the two, only the Oregon squads return numbers that come close to stacking up. Oregon State returns Storm Woods and Terron Ward, who combined for 1,747 yards (1,355 rushing, 392 receiving) and 19 touchdowns. Oregon, which lost Kenjon Barner to graduation, returns a tandem of De’Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, who put up a combined 1,607 yards (1,148 rushing, 459 receiving) and 20 touchdowns.
BETTER SUITED FOR HANDKERCHIEFS The Sun Devils didn’t give the referees much reason to reach for their pockets last season and things are off to a similar start this year. ASU has been penalized just four times this year for a grand total of 20 yards, a 10.0 ypg average that currently leads the nation and a 2.0 penalties per game tally that is tied for fifth nationally. Nine of ASU’s least penalized games since 2006 have come under Todd Graham.
LIGHT ‘EM UP ASU had no problem putting points on the scoreboard last season and that resumed in the opner as ASU dropped 55 on the Hornets. ASU is now averaging 47.2 points per game over the last four games dating back to last season. ASU’s 118 combined points in the last two season openers (ASU defeated NAU 63-6 last season) are the highest in consecutive openers in program history and ASU’s 87 points through the first two games are the third most in ASU history behind last year’s team (108) and the 94 put up by Dirk Koetter’s squad in 2005. ASU finished 2012 with 499 points and the 38.4 points per game ranked ASU 14th nationally in scoring offense. That mark ranks fifth all-time in ASU history in the statistical category and was the most since the 1973 squad that scored 43.2 ppg.
MAKE ‘EM PAY ASU put points on the board following all four of Sacramento State’s turnovers in the opener, continuing a trend that started last year when the Sun Devil offense put points in the bank on 70.0 of its conversion opportunities and scored 18 touchdowns off of 30 turnovers forced. ASU had three touchdowns and a field goal off turnovers in the opener. ASU outscored opponents 139-58 in points off turnovers over the course of last season, despite posting just a middling +6 number in the takeway category. Much of that came by way of the defense, which did an admirable job of limiting opponents following turnovers by the offense. On the season, ASU’s opponents scored on just 41.7 percent of their drives following an ASU turnover and scored just seven touchdowns in that span on 24 turnovers. ASU didn’t turn the ball over in the opener, and now has a +3 turnover advantage already this season to go with a +17 mark in the points off turnovers category.
THE ALTERNATIVE DEFINITION OF “SCORING DEFENSE” Scoring defense is an official statistic credited to defenses based on how many points they allow per game. The ASU defense worked to re-write that definition with a defense that finds a way to directly lead to point on the board. While there were no defensive scores in the opener, ASU scored 24 of its 55 points off Sacramento State turnovers caused by the defense. Last year, ASU had three interceptions returned for touchdowns on the year (Alden Darby - 70 yards at USC, Anthony Jones - 36 yards vs Oregon and Brandon Magee - 45 yards vs NAU) and one fumble recovery for a touchdown (Junior Onyeali vs Oregon State). The defense also had a blocked punt for a safety, giving the squad a total of 26 direct points. If you add in the points off turnovers that the ASU offense scored, the ASU defense had a hand in 165 of the 499 points (33.1 percent) scored for ASU last season.
WINNING THE BATTLE FOR FIELD POSITION The Sun Devils were largely exceptional when it came to starting field position last season, and picked that up again in the opener. The Sun Devils average starting field position, aided largely in part by four Sacramento State turnovers, was their own 43-yard line while holding the Hornets starting field position to an average of their own 25-yard line. Against Wisconsin, ASU averaged a starting yard line of their own 30-yard line while Wisconsin was pinned back and averaged a starting spot at their own 22-yard line. Under Todd Graham ASU has had an average starting yard line of their own 36.8 in 10 victories compared to a starting yard line of the 23.6 for their opponents in such contests. Conversely, in losses the opponents have an average starting field position of the their own 33.2 yard line compared to ASU starting at their own 30.3. Some of this year’s credit goes to placekicker Alex Garoutte, who has 13 touchbacks on 17 kickoffs - a 76.5 percent average that is notable as he only average a touchback 38.9 percent of the time last season. Last season, ASU posted an average starting spot of their own 33-yard line that ranked 10 in the nation. The Sun Devils also held their opponents to an average starting line of their own 28-yard-line, a total that ranked 24th nationally. The Sun Devils were impressive in turning bad field position into a positive against Wisconsin, having two scoring drives of 90+ yards, an impressive accomplishment as ASU had just two such drives in the entirety of 2012.
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 been consistently ranked among in the top half of the least penalized teams in the country in both yards and penalties per game. In 2012, the Sun Devils finished 10th in fewest penalties (4.23) and eighth in fewest penalty yards per game (34.9).
A GRAND OPENING ASU’s defensive effort in the opener was about as collaborative an effort as any with no player posting more than four tackles while 19 different players logged a tackle. But former walk-on turned scholarship player Grandville Taylor sure picked up where he left off last season, logging four tackles, picking up a fumble recovery and also nabbing his first interception of his career and taking it 67 yards to the two-yard line before being tackled. If a case were to be made for a defensive MVP of the game, Taylor likely wouldn’t get a serious look. Taylor backed up the performance with another fumble recovery against WIsconsin and his 1.0 average per game in the category leads the nation currently.
A STRONG START All told, 15 Sun Devils made their debut against Sacramento State and it was sophomore receiver Jaelen Strong that had one of the more memorable nights. The junior college transfer led the team in receptions and yards with six grabs for 58 yards while snatching his first career touchdown in the process. The feat was made more impressive by the fact that there are few receivers in recent memory who were as productive in their first career appearance, as it was a fear that Derek Hagan, Shaun McDonald, Rudy Carpenter, Chris McGaha, Kyle Williams, Gerrell Robinson were unable to accomplish. Strong showed he was just getting started as he had six grabs for 108 yards against WIsconsin. What was more impressive, however, was the fact that his receptions came in the clutch, with five of those six grabs going for a first down.
SEVERAL STRONG STARTS In a different category of starts, seniors Evan Finkenberg and Osahon Irabor will begin 2013 as two of the most seasons starters in the Pac-12. Only Oregon State’s Michael Philipp (38) has more starts than Finkenberg and Irabor, who each have 35. Irabor’s statistic is particularly notable as he has started all 35 of his games consecutively - a mark that paces the Pac-12 Conference ahead of Washington State’s John Fullington, who has 33.
A SUTTON IMPACT ASU’s consensus All-American, senior Will Sutton had a relatively quiet day against Sacramento State, playing over the ball more than expected in what looked to be part of Todd Graham’s renewed emphasis on run defense this season. Even so, Sutton had two tackles and half a tackle for loss in just over a half of play while also recovering a fumble. While quarterback hurries aren’t an officially kept stat, a look through the game tape would show Sutton having his nose in more than a couple plays despite the lack of eye-popping numbers. Sutton posted 23.5 tackles for loss last season (fourth-most in ASU history) and 13.0 sacks (fourth in ASU history).
DON’T FORGET BRADFORD With the incredible season posted by Will Sutton last year, it was almost easy to forget the phenomenal year put forth by Carl Bradford. Playing out of the Devilbacker position, Bradford finished the year with 81 tackles (fourth on team), 20.5 tackles for loss (second on team and 10th-most in school history) and 11.5 sacks. His three forced fumbles tied Sutton for most on the team and his two fumble recoveries tied Deveron Carr for the team lead as well. He also added an interception for good measure. Since sacks started being recording in 1978, only four sophomores in Sun Devil history have amassed 10 or more sacks and Bradford’s 11.5 were more than all of them - a list that includes Shante Carver (11/1991), Dexter Davis (10.5/2007) and Terrell Suggs (10/2001). Bradford was one of just five FBS players last season to total 80+ tackles, 20+ TFLs AND 10+ sacks on the year. Bradford had a quiet night in the opener but will be worth keeping an eye on this season. Bradford got back on the board against Wisconsin with four tackles and 1.0 for loss.
A #DYNAMICDUO Between Bradford and Sutton, the Sun Devils as formidable a defense duo as any in the nation. Only 10 returning FBS players posted 10+ sacks in 2012. Sutton and Bradford are the only teammates on that list. There were a total of 51 FBS teams that had fewer sacks in 2012 than Sutton and Bradford had combined (24.5). Not since 1978 has ASU had a pair of players post 20+ TFLs and 10+ sacks in the same season (Al Harris 22 TFL/19 sacks and Bob Kohrs 20 TFL/14 sacks). As a team, Boston College only had one more TFL in 2012 than Sutton and Bradford had combined (44.0 TFL for Sutton and Bradford). Only 10 returning FBS players posted 10+ sacks in 2012. Sutton and Bradford are the only teammates on that list. 51 FBS teams had fewer sacks in 2012 than Sutton and Bradford had combined (24.5).
AN IMPRESSIVE YEAR The 2012 team’s 117 tackles for loss were right in the mix of some of the great ASU defenses of the last 15 years. In that span, Terrell Suggs and Co. had 123 in 2002 and last year’s Sun Devil team came just shy of that school record. The team did finish in a tie with Adam Archuleta, Pat Tillman, Jeremy Staat and friends, who posted 117 tackles for loss in 1998 while also adding 111 in 1996 and 1997 and 102 in 1999. Those marks rank as the highest in school history. Five players on last year’s team posted double-digit TFL numbers. Only the 2000 squad (97 total TFL) had five players in double digits in school history.
SACK LUNCH: While those years of Archuleta and Friends had some impressive TFL numbers, they pale in comparison to the sack count ASU put up last season. The Sun Devils had 52 sacks in 2012, a mark that trailed only the 1978 Sun Devils (64) and tied with the 2002 ASU team that also had 52. At 4.00 sacks per game, the Sun Devils finished just behind Stanford (4.07) for second in the nation in the category last year. ASU had two Sun Devils with over 10 sacks last year (Carl Bradford and Will Sutton) - a feat that had not been achieved since the 1994 season.
NOT PLAYING COY Chris Coyle put up one of the best seasons in tight end history at ASU in 2012. Coyle finished third in the nation in tight end receptions per game with 4.38. His 57 receptions led the Sun Devils and were a new single-season best all-time for ASU tight ends, as did his 696 receiving yards on the year. Coyle finished with five touchdown catches on the year, one shy of the single-season tight end record set by Miller and Joe Petty. Coyle has five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to date this season.
NOT IN IRABOR’S HOUSE Defensive back Osahon Irabor was a force last year with 14 passes defensed on the season to lead the team. What’s more impressive is that he didn’t have a single pass interference called against him all season after having seven called against him in 2011 . The 14 pass breakups in 2012 were the most by a Sun Devil since Justin Tryon had 16 in 2007. Irabor also posted his first interception of the season against Arizona. Irabor was arguably the defensive player of the game against WIsconsin, leading the team with seven tackles and 2.5 TFLs along with a sack. His 2.5 TFLs were a new career high.
INFO-GRAHAM Over his four seasons prior to coming to ASU -- one at Pittsburgh and three at Tulsa -- Todd Graham’s teams 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. The 2012 Sun Devils rushed the ball on 59.1 percent of their total plays. In 2011, ASU rushed 44.5 percent of the time. Over the past seven seasons at Pitt, Tulsa, Rice and now ASU, only one Graham-coached team has ranked outside the top 50 nationally in sacks. In 2011, Pittsburgh averaged 3.31 sacks, which ranked third nationally. The Sun Devils averaged 4.0 sacks per game last year, the second-best mark in the nation. In seven seasons, Graham is 22-20 in true road games. ASU was 3-3 in such games in 2012. In the previous four seasons, ASU was 5-16. In six of the past seven 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. In 2011, Pitt averaged 39.5, which ranked 18th. The Sun Devils averaged only 34.92 penalty yards per game in 2012 which was good for eighth in the nation.
ROAD WARRIORS Todd Graham has had a lot of success on the road during his head coaching days, and his first season with the Sun Devils was no different. ASU compiled a 3-2 road record in Pac-12 Conference games with victories against Colorado, Cal and Arizona - one of just four Pac-12 teams to do so behind Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. It was just the fifth time since joining the Pac-12 (1978) that the Sun Devils had won three conference games on the road.
SCHOLAR-BALLERS The Sun Devil football team has not only showed impressive strides on the field of play, but also in the classroom. The Sun Devils had 51 student-athletes named “Scholar-Ballers” this past season, meaning they earned a 3.0 or higher GPA for the year. That is 21 more student-athletes than the 2010-11 campaign and 13 more than 2011-12.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY One of the more impressive numbers the Sun Devils lay claim to this season will be the eight graduates competing on the roster in 2013. Davon Coleman, Chris Coyle, Evan Finkenberg, Alex Garoutte, Osahon Orabor, Kody Koebensky, Shane McCullen and Marlon Pollard will all compete this season with Bachelor degrees in hand as they complete coursework toward their graduate degrees. More impressive, six of those student-athletes were starters or significant reserves in 2012 and will likely play a large role in things this season as well (Coleman, Coyle, Finkenberg, Koebensky, Garoutte and Irabor).