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Football Returns Home to Tak on Undefeated Oregon
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 09/25/2006
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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Sept. 25, 2006

FOOTBALL CENTRAL 


GAME INFORMATION

Date: Saturday, September 30, 2006
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.
Site: Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium (71,706), Tempe, Ariz.
Television: ABC
Play-by-Play/Color: Dan Fouts/Tim Brant
Sideline Reporter: Jack Arute
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 620 AM & KMVP/ESPN Radio 860
Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst
Spanish Radio: KIDR 740
Play-by-Play: Ivan Lara
Color: Former Sun Devil All-American OL Juan Roque


WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
• ASU's defense is currently tied for No. 1 in the nation in sacks with 19. With three more sacks the Sun Devils will tie their sack total from the entire 2005 season (22).
• ASU's defense has allowed seven points in the second half this season (seven points have also been scored by the opposition on a defensive touchdown), including zero points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 110.8 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
• ASU has averaged 209.5 yards rushing in its last two games (182 at Colorado and 237 at California).
• Overall, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents 56-14 in the second half.
• The Sun Devil defense has yet to allow a rushing TD in 2006.
• Opposing offenses have scored only five times (4 TDs, 1 FG) on 10 trips inside Arizona State's red zone.
• The nation's leader in pass efficiency in 2005, sophomore Rudy Carpenter is 7-2 as ASU's starting quarterback (last five games of 2005 and four games in 2006). Carpenter has thrown for 300 or more yards in five of his nine career starts, including a career-best 467 yards in ASU's 45-40 win over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl last December.
• Junior All-America TE Zach Miller (110 career receptions) needs six receptions to pass former Sun Devil All-America and current Baltimore Ravens TE Todd Heap (115 receptions) for the most career receptions by a Sun Devil tight end.
• ASU's top two rushers, junior TB Ryan Torain (6.4) and sophomore TB Keegan Herring (6.3), are both averaging more than 6.0 yards per carry. Last week at California, Torain ran for a career-best 191 yards.


TEMPE, Ariz. - After back-to-back games on the road, the Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1, 0-1 Pac-10) return home to Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday (12:30 p.m., ABC), to host the No. 12 Oregon Ducks. ASU comes into this week's game seeking its first Pac-10 win of the season after dropping last week's conference opener at Cal. The Ducks (3-0, 1-0 Pac-10) are coming off a bye week after securing wins in their first three contests of the season - vs. Stanford (48-10), at Fresno State (31-24) and vs. Oklahoma (34-33). During halftime of Saturday's game, ASU will officially induct 12 new members into its Hall of Fame/Distinction. This year's group of inductees is headlined by current New York Mets All-Star Paul Lo Duca and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Nick Hysong.

LAST WEEK (California 49, ASU 21)
   Despite overwhelming statistical advantages in rushing yards (237-139), time of possession (36:47-23:13) and offensive plays (82-53), No. 18 Arizona State dropped its first game of the season, falling to the No. 20 California Golden Bears 49-21.
   For ASU, the game came down to a six-plus minute span in the closing minutes of the first quarter and the opening minutes of the second quarter in which the Golden Bears overcame an early ASU 7-0 lead with 28 consecutive points.
   ASU took the opening kickoff and went 76 yards in 12 plays, using up 4:04 on the clock for the game's first score. Junior TB Ryan Torain, who would eventually end up with a career-best 191 yards rushing on the afternoon, capped the march with a nine-yard touchdown run to give ASU the early 7-0 lead.
   Following an exchange of punts, Cal would tie the score on its second possession of the game after a nine-yard touchdown pass from QB Nate Longshore to TB Justin Forsett.
   Less than two minutes later the Golden Bears would strike again. Following an ASU turnover Cal needed one play, a 31-yard touchdown pass from Longshore to WR Lavelle Hawkins, to take a 14-7 lead.
   The lead would grow to 21-7 after DeSean Jackson brought back a punt by ASU P Jonathan Johnson for an 80-yard score. Following another ASU punt, the Golden Bears went 75 yards in three plays to go up 28-7 after a 23-yard touchdown pass from Longshore to TB Marshawn Lynch.
   The lead would eventually get to 35-7 before the Sun Devils answered with a touchdown coming courtesy of Torain, who went in from four yards to cap a 13-play 74-yard drive with 1:31 left in the half.
   It appeared a shift in momentum was on the horizon less than a minute later after the Sun Devils recovered a Cal fumble. Looking to trim Cal's 35-14 lead even more before halftime, the Sun Devils were dealt a crushing blow when Golden Bear CB Daymeion Hughes stepped in front of a Rudy Carpenter pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown to give Cal a 42-14 halftime advantage.
   A 49-yard scoring strike from Carpenter to WR Terry Richardson on ASU's opening possession of the second half cut Cal's lead in half, 42-21, however the Sun Devils were unable to get any closer the rest of the game.

Head Coach Dirk Koetter Said ...
   "We talked to the team about when you're on the road against a good team with a loud crowd, whenever that onslaught comes, you've got to be able to answer it, and we just couldn't answer it. What Cal did to us today is exactly what happened to them at Tennessee, it's exactly the same thing. That's the difficulty of playing on the road - not just playing on the road, but playing against a good football team ... Cal's very talented. All of those wide receivers, three tailbacks, the corner [Daymeion Hughes] is outstanding. They're by far the most athletic team we've played - by far ... Keegan Herring, our normal starting tailback, hurt his hamstring last Sunday afternoon in practice and was never 100% this week, so we knew going in that Ryan Torain was going to get the majority of the carries, and he certainly responded - really ran the ball hard, broke tackles, second effort."

ASU-CALIFORNIA POST-GAME NOTES
• ASU's defense did not allow any points in the second half at Cal. Through four games, the Sun Devil defense has allowed a grand total of seven points in the second half, including zero points in the third quarter. In addition, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents an average of 110.8 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
• By not allowing any rushing touchdowns at California, the Sun Devil defense still has yet to allow a rushing touchdown in 2006.
• ASU rushed for 237 yards at California, the fifth-highest total by an ASU squad under Dirk Koetter and the most ever on the road under Koetter.
• ASU's defense collected its sixth interception (senior S Zach Catanese) of the season. The six interceptions have come from five different players. Junior CB Chris Baloney leads ASU with two interceptions.
• ASU's defense recorded its 19th sack of the season (DT Michael Marquardt). With three more sacks ASU will tie its sack total from the entire 2005 season (22 sacks).
• Sophomore QB Rudy Carpenter led ASU to a touchdown on its first possession of the game. In his nine starts, Carpenter has now led ASU to a score on its opening possession six times (5 TDs, 1 FG).
• Carpenter also threw two touchdown passes, the eighth time in his nine starts that he has thrown multiple touchdown passes.
• Junior TB Ryan Torain carried the ball 24 times for a career-best 191 yards. Torain is the first ASU TB to go over the 100-yard mark this season. Last season ASU's running backs combined for four 100-yard games - Keegan Herring (3) and Rudy Burgess (1). Herring's 197 yards versus Northwestern were the most for an ASU running back in 2005.

ASU-OREGON SERIES NOTES
• Arizona State holds a 16-10 advantage in the series with Oregon, which dates back to 1966. ASU is 8-4 at home against the Ducks.
• ASU has won three of the last four meetings against the Ducks. Oregon's 31-17 victory in Tempe last season snapped a three-game winning streak by ASU in the series.
• The two teams combined for the highest scoring game (111 points) in ASU history in 2000 when the Ducks defeated the Sun Devils 56-55 in 2 OTs at Sun Devil Stadium.

DEVILS DEFENSE SHOWS IMPROVEMENT
   Despite no shortage of effort and having the Pac-10 co-Defensive Player of the Year (Dale Robinson), the ASU defense endured a tough season in 2005, finishing the season ranked 114th in total defense and 86th in scoring defense.
   Through four games in 2006, the unit has shown dramatic improvement under second-year defensive coordinator Bill Miller, who twice in his coaching career has been nominated for the Frank Broyles Award, which is given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
   Below are some of the highlights from ASU's defense through the season's first four games.
• Recorded 19 sacks, only three fewer sacks than it had (22) the entire 2005 season (12 games).
• ASU's 19 sacks are tied for first in the nation while their 9.0 tackles for loss per game are fourth in the nation.
• Currently tied for No. 12 in the country with six interceptions.
• Returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the first two games (junior CB Chris Baloney vs. NAU and freshman S Ryan McFoy vs. Nevada).
• Colorado's 219 yards in total offense was the fifth-best defensive effort by ASU in Koetter's five-plus seasons at ASU while the Buffaloes' 86 yards passing was the third-best defensive passing effort under Koetter.
• The Colorado offense failed to score a touchdown marking the first time the ASU defense has not allowed a touchdown since a 44-7 win at home against Iowa on Sept. 18, 2004. Iowa's only touchdown in that game came on a punt return.
• Allowed just 53 net rushing yards to NAU, ASU's best effort since holding Stanford to 37 yards on Nov. 6, 2004. It also marked the seventh-best defensive rushing effort under Koetter.
• Has allowed only seven points in the second half this season, including zero points in the third quarter. In addition, opposing offenses are averaging only 110.8 yards in total offense in the second half of games this year.
• In his first start as a Sun Devil vs. NAU, senior LB Derron Ware had four tackles for loss, including four sacks. The four sacks have him tied for No. 6 in the nation.
• In his first game as a Sun Devil vs. NAU, junior CB Chris Baloney had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. Baloney added another interception against Nevada (Sept. 9) giving him two this season which currently has him No. 2 in the Pac-10.
• In the second start of his career vs. Nevada, true freshman S Ryan McFoy collected a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, a 15-yard quarterback sack, a pass breakup and five tackles.
• Opposing offenses have scored only five times (4 TDs, 1 FG) on 10 trips inside Arizona State's red zone.
• Has allowed the opposition to drive 50 or more yards for a score only five times.
• Has yet to allow a rushing TD in 2006.

CARPENTER GETS THE CALL
   Record-setting sophomore Rudy Carpenter will continue to guide the Sun Devil offense in 2006 after being forced into duty midway through last season.
   Despite not starting until the eighth game of the 2005 season, Carpenter finished the year ranked first in the nation with a school record 175.01 passer efficiency rating while also ranking third nationally in completion percentage (68.4). He also threw for a team-high and school freshman record 2,273 yards to go along with 17 touchdown passes. In addition, he achieved a nation-leading and team record-low interception percentage (.008), after throwing two interceptions out of 228 total passing attempts. He capped-off his phenomenal rookie campaign by earning Offensive Player of the Game honors for his role in ASU's victory against Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl. In that game, Carpenter accounted for ASU individual bowl game records of 467 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
   This season Carpenter has continued the solid play that led ASU to victories in four of his five starts in 2005. Currently 7-2 as a starter, Carpenter passed for 333 yards and a career-best five touchdown passes (to five different receivers) in ASU's 52-21 win over Nevada (Sept. 9). His yardage total vs. the Wolf Pack is the second-highest single-game total of any quarterback in the Pac-10 this season (Dennis Dixon, Oregon, 341 yards).
   Carpenter enters this week's game ranked No. 13 in the country in total offense (261.8 yards per game).
   Did you know? In his nine starts, Carpenter has led ASU to a score on its opening drive of the game six times (5 TDs, 1 FG).

MILLER AMONG NATION'S ELITE TIGHT ENDS
   Through four games in 2006, junior All-America TE Zach Miller has continued to prove why he is regarded as one of the top players in the country at his position. Miller currently leads the ream in receptions (16), is tied for first on the team with two touchdown receptions and is second on the team in receiving yards (164).
   After a little more than two seasons Miller, who was named to the 2006 John Mackey Award Watch List, is at or near the top of the career standards for ASU tight ends in touchdown receptions (12, first), receptions (110, second) and receiving yards (1,192, fourth). His 98 catches in 2004-05 were more than any other tight end in the nation the last two seasons while his receiving yardage and touchdown totals were also the second-most in the nation at his position during that same duration.
   According to his head coach, it is not only his ability as a receiver that makes him such a special player.
   "In my opinion, Zach Miller is one of the best blocking tight ends in the nation," Koetter said. "He gets a ton of credit for his acrobatic catches, but when you watch cut-ups you see what a tremendous blocker he is."
   After his freshman season, Miller earned second-team All-America honors, just one of four freshmen to earn first team or second-team All-American accolades that season. Miller also earned first-team Freshman All-American accolades for his successful 2004 season. In 2004, he was named the Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, becoming just the second Sun Devil to earn the honor (Terrell Suggs, 2000).
   As a freshman, Miller broke the ASU record for receptions in a season by a tight end with 56. His 56 receptions in 2004 tied for the most receptions in the NCAA by a tight end. Along with his 56 receptions, he tallied 552 receiving yards and six touchdowns. In 2005, Miller missed some time with an injury and still managed the team's third-highest amount of receptions with 38, four of which were touchdowns. He also recorded 476 receiving yards for an average of 12.5 yards per reception.
   Already the school record holder for most touchdowns by a tight end (12), Miller needs six receptions and 494 receiving yards to become the school's career leader for a tight end in each of the aforementioned categories.

COVERING A LOT OF TORAIN
   Junior TB Ryan Torain became the first ASU running back to go over the 100-yard mark in a game rushing this season when he ran for a career-best 191 yards last week at California. Many of Torain's yards against the Golden Bears were earned after initial contact with Cal's defenders as he broke numerous tackles throughout the game.
   It's the second time Torain led the Sun Devils in rushing this season after gaining 70 yards on only eight carries in ASU's win over Nevada (Sept. 9). In ASU's 21-3 win at Colorado (Sept. 16), Torain ran for 80 yards on nine carries in helping ASU rush for 182 yards.
   Through four games, Torain leads the Sun Devils in rushing and is ranked No. 5 in the Pac-10 averaging 88.5 yards per game

BACK ATTACK
   When a team ranks third in the country in passing offense (as ASU did last year) it would not be hard to understand why its running game, no matter how solid, might be overlooked. Last season the Sun Devils averaged 145.7 yards per game, their highest average since head coach Dirk Koetter's first year at ASU in 2001. Through four games this season the Sun Devils are averaging 180.5 yards rushing per game. To put that number in perspective, if the Sun Devils were to keep up that pace, it would be the first time since 2001 that they averaged more than 150 yards on the ground.
   ASU has no shortage of talent in its backfield, which includes sophomore Keegan Herring, who led the team in rushing last season with 870 yards; sophomore Shaun DeWitty, a 6-2, 215-pound back who had a solid spring for ASU; junior college transfer Ryan Torain, who rushed for more than 800 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore at Butler (Kan.) CC despite missing four games with an injury; and freshman Dimitri Nance, who ran up career totals of 3,173 yards and 41 touchdowns during his high school career.
   The aforementioned quartet of running backs combined for 142 yards rushing (5.1 per-carry average) in ASU's season-opening victory over Northern Arizona (Aug. 31). Nance led the way with 61 yards and one score. The following week against Nevada (Sept. 9), Torain led ASU's rushing attack with 70 yards on only eight carries (8.8-yard average). Torain's night included a 15-yard TD run in addition to a 40-yard scamper, the longest rush by an ASU player in 2006. In addition to Torain's success, DeWitty tallied a touchdown reception for the second consecutive week, this one a 22-yard strike from QB Rudy Carpenter.
   Two weeks ago at Colorado (Sept. 16), the Sun Devils rushed for 182 yards, the 10th-best rushing performance under Koetter and the second-best on the road. Herring (82 yards) and Torain (80 yards) combined for 162 of ASU's yards against the Buffaloes, who came into the game No. 6 in the NCAA in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (32.5) and No. 4 in the country in per-carry average (0.9). ASU averaged 4.0 yards per carry at Colorado.
   Last week at California, the Sun Devils had their best ever rushing performance on the road under Koetter as they gained 237 yards, including a career-best 191 yards from Torain.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS FOR T-RICH
   Senior WR/KR/PR Terry Richardson, who earned Second Team All-America honors last season from SI.com, was named the US Bank Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in last season's game against USC and he was ranked as one of the top returners in the nation last season.
   His 84-yard punt return for a TD in the first quarter against USC (10/1) marked the first by a Sun Devil since current St. Louis Ram Shaun McDonald had a 78-yarder against USC on Nov. 4, 2000. It was the 10th-longest punt return in school history (9th-longest for a TD) and the longest by a Sun Devil since Eric Guliford had an 89-yarder against California in 1992.
   In the last regular season game Richardson would deliver again with a momentum-turning return of 71 yards against Arizona for a touchdown that tied the game in the fourth quarter. It made him the sixth Sun Devil overall and first since Ron Washington (1977) to return a pair of kicks for touchdowns in a season.
   Richardson ended last season No. 2 in the Pac-10 and No. 7 in the nation with an average of 15.3 yards per punt return while also sitting third in the Pac-10 and No. 15 in the nation with an average of 27.4 yards on kickoff returns. Both his punt (337 yards) and kick return (629) yardage totals for the season were good enough to make into the top five of the school's all-time single-season annals. On offense, Richardson finished fourth on the team with 37 catches for 495 yards (13.4 avg.) and five touchdowns.
   Thus far in 2006, Richardson is averaging 12.2 yards per return. Two weeks ago Richardson had a season-best 48-yard punt return at Colorado.

JUST FOR KICKS
   In his three-plus years Jesse Ainsworth has made it a habit of being nearly perfect on PAT attempts, missing just three times in 139 tries. [Dating back to the final game of the 2003 season when he connected on 4-of-4 PATs to start his current streak of 115 in a row, a school record.]
   Ainsworth, who was a perfect 53-of-53 last season after going 40-of-40 in 2004, moved past former program record holder Luis Zendejas, who netted 75 from 1981-83. Ainsworth tied Zendejas' mark when he connected on a try following ASU's first touchdown against Oregon last season, a 20-yard touchdown reception by Derek Hagan in the first quarter. In the third stanza, Ainsworth hit home the record-breaking 76th PAT in a row. Ainsworth's 53 PATs last season put him fourth in ASU's record books for the most PATs made in a single season.
   Ainsworth's 38 field goals are fourth-most in a Sun Devil career and he needs one more to move into a tie for third. He also is just the sixth kicker in school annals to score 200 or more points as his 250 points are 28 points behind Mike Barth (1999-2002) for second on the list.

PRESEASON RANKINGS
   Arizona State's inclusion in the 2006 preseason Associated Press poll (24th) marks just the second time it has been ranked in the preseason poll in back-to-back years in 24 seasons (1983 to present). It was ranked 20th in the poll last year. In 1998, ASU was ranked eighth in the preseason poll and was 25th prior to the 1999 season.

ASU PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN PRESEASON PAC-10 POLL
   ASU was picked to finish fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference in a pre-season poll of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. Defending Pac-10 champion USC earned 18 first-place votes and was picked to win its fourth straight Pac-10 title. The Sun Devils will travel to Los Angeles to face the Trojans on October 14th at Memorial Coliseum.
   Four teams received first place votes this season after USC was the unanimous choice last year. The Trojans garnered 18 votes, while Cal was second with seven. Oregon received three votes and the Sun Devils also earned a first place vote.
   The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 23 of 45 previous polls, including the last six years in a row.

ASU TO HONOR '86 & '96 ROSE BOWL TEAMS
   Scheduled in conjunction with ASU's football game against Washington State University at Sun Devil Stadium on November 11, ASU will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1986 Rose Bowl team and the 10th anniversary of the 1996 Rose Bowl team.
   Former Sun Devil head football coaches John Cooper (1986) and Bruce Snyder (1996) have been contacted and have committed to attend the weekend's festivities.
   The 1986 Sun Devils captured the Pac-10 title and culminated their season with a 22-15 victory over Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl. It was the first Rose Bowl appearance in ASU history. The team would finish its season with a 10-1-1 record.
   The 1996 Sun Devils had an undefeated regular season before falling to Ohio State in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Highlights of the year included shutting out top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Nebraska 19-0 on Sept. 21, 1996 and overcoming a three-touchdown deficit to beat UCLA on the road.

UP NEXT
   The Sun Devils will have a bye week before going on the road to face the University of Southern California on Oct. 14 ( 5 p.m. PT). The game will be televised by ABC.

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