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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
ASU Football - 2013 Season Review
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 01/29/2014
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TEMPE -- The No. 20 Arizona State University football program finished the 2013 campaign with a 10-4 record overall and as the Pac-12 South Champions, falling to Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl.

The Sun Devil football program just finished its 101st season of competition in 2013.  The Sun Devils are 578-366-24 (.610) all-time and have now appeared in 27 bowl games, compiling a 13-13-1 record in such contests.  

Arizona State kicked off the 2013 campaign with a rout over Sacramento State, knocking off the Hornets 55-0 at Sun Devil Stadium, followed by a dramatic 32-30 victory over No. 20 Wisconsin. Following a loss to Stanford, ASU dispatched of USC, 62-41, before wrapping up their non-conference slate with a tough 37-34 loss to Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas. ASU rebounded with a 54-13 dismantling of Colorado at home before picking up its second win over a top-25 ranked program against No. 20 Washington on Homecoming, blitzing the Huskies in a 53-24 victory. ASU then two straight road victries, knocking of Washington State, 55-21, before edging Utah, 20-19, in a thriller in Salt Lake City. The Sun Devils followed that with a 30-17 victory at home over Oregon State. ASU dropped then-No. 14 UCLA in Pasadena to clinch the Pac-12 South Championship before wrapping up the regular season with a 58-21 rout over Arizona for the Territorial Cup.  The Sun Devils fell to Rose Bowl-bound Stanford a second time in the Pac-12 Championship game, 38-14, before the 34-23 defeat to Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl. Complete game recaps from all games are located on Page 9.

#10THINGS - Twitter-Friendly Notes

1. Under @CoachGrahamASU, ASU leads Pac-12 South teams with 13 conference victories in two seasons 

2. @FootballASU has 5 INT returns for TDs this season, tied for first nationally. Had 4 in 3 prior seasons to @CoachGrahamASU #NoFlyZone

3. Will Sutton was named to AP 1st Team All-America 2nd season in a row, becomes 15th #Devil to earn the honors

4. #FootballASU has #PT42 interceptions in the last two seasons, second among FBS schools behind Houston (44). 

5. @FootballASU has forced 63 turnovers under @CoachGrahamASU in last 2 seasons, second most among FBS institutions behind only Houston (74).

6. In 2013, ASU  outscored its opponents 146-42 on points off turnovers while posting a +15 takeaway number.  

7. @FootballASU went 4-3 against teams in the final top-25. Its 7 games were second-most of anyone in the top 25 (Stanford had eight). 

8. #Devils now have four freshman All-Americans in two years under @CoachGrahamASU - Fiso, Foster, Gonzalez, Hood #SunDevilPride 

9. Some pretty good coaches were hired after 2011 season (27 in total) & @CoachGrahamASU 18-9 record ranks as 5th best 

10. @SweetTeaWillie joined safeties David Fulcher (84-85) and Mike Richardson (81-82) as only 2-time AP 1st Team All-Americans in #ASU history

NOTABLE NUMBERS

--The Sun Devils have forced an opponent turnover in 29 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak among all FBS institutions behind only Missouri. ASU has forced a turnover in every game under Todd Graham.

--ASU’s victory over Arizona was the Sun Devils’ eighth conference victory of the season, matching the school record set in 1996 (8-0).  Additionally, all eight of ASU’s victories came consecutively and capped a streak that marked just the 13th time in history the Sun Devils won five or more conference games in a row (Border and WAC years included).  Prior to this season, ASU had won five or more conference games in a row just three times (‘96, ‘97, ‘07) since 1987.

--The Arizona State defense had an interception return for a touchdown five times this season. The team accomplished the feat three times in 2012 for a total of eight during Todd Graham’s two years as head coach.  The number is notable as ASU had just four interception returns for a touchdown in the three previous seasons prior to Todd Graham’s arrival at ASU.

--Kelly threw for 28 touchdowns this season and has tossed 57 touchdowns over the past two seasons, the most for any Sun Devil quarterback in a two-game span.

--Kelly’s 3,635 passing yards are the third most in a single season in school history and he is one of just seven Sun Devil quarterbacks to pass for more than 6,000 yards in their career. He is just the second quarterback to have thrown for over 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons in school history. 

STRIKE FIRST  With Zane Gonazalez’s 38-yard field goal on ASU’s first possession against Arizona, Arizona State has scored first in 21 of the 26 games with Todd Graham at the helm, and was 9-1 in such contests in 2013. The Sun Devils are now 16-5 in the Todd Graham era when getting on the scoreboard first. 

STRIKE FAST The quick-hitting offense has become a staple of the Todd Graham-coached Sun Devils, with 112 of ASU’s 155 offensive scoring drives under Graham coming in three minutes or less (72.3 percent). That being said, ASU also had 15 scoring drives of four minutes or longer in 14 games this season, compared to having three such drives in the entirety of 2012.  Nevertheless, ASU’s high-powered offense still resonates with the high number of quick scoring drives, scoring in three minutes or less on 62 of the team’s 89 scoring drives in 2013 (70.0 percent). There was a direct correlation between the time of ASU’s scoring drives in 2013 and the points per scoring drive as well. When ASU scored in three minutes or less, it averaged 6.2 points per drive.  When the drive lasted longer than three minutes, ASU’s average dropped to 5.4 points per drive.  In ASU’s 14 drives in 2013 lasting longer than four minutes, the team averaged just 4.3 points per score.  

START STRONG...FINISH STRONG The Sun Devils have now outscored their opposition 278-139 in the first quarter under Todd Graham and outscored opponents 130-70 in the first in 2013. The Sun Devils are 13-1 under Graham when holding their opposition scoreless in the first and did so in six of the team’s 10 wins in 2013. ASU improved to 16-0 when leading at halftime with Graham as coach following the Arizona contest. ASU also knows how to close out games, outscoring teams 258-141 in the fourth quarter of games under Graham. ASU outscored its opponent in 10 of 14 games in the fourth quarter in 2013. 

EIGHT WINS AND NO EASY LAYUPS This past season California went 0-9 in Pac-12 play, the 13th team to go winless in league play since the Pac-10 was created in 1978.  ASU missed Cal on the schedule, making ASU’s eight-wins even more impressive.  Only twice prior has the team that has won a Pac-10 or Pac-12 championship not played a winless team in those 12 seasons. In 1982, the Pac-10 Champion UCLA Bruins did not play the Oregon State Beavers, who went 0-7 in the conference. And in 1997, Washington State - who was named co-champions with UCLA - did not play a Beavers team that went 0-7 in the conference that year.

WINNING BY WAY OF TKO (TAYLOR KELLY OFFENSE) The school record holder in completion percentage and efficiency in 2012, Taylor Kelly threw for 28 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in 2013 (one coming on a Hail Mary against Stanford). In 13 games, Kelly had 3,635 passing yards and averaged 259.6 yards per game, both ranked in the top five in school history. He is just the second Sun Devil to have multiple seasons with 3,000+ passing yards behind only Andrew Walter (3). In 2013, Kelly has moved into the top five in seven single season school record lists including: passing yards, passing yards per game, completions, attempts, total offense, total offense, yards per game, and points responsible for. Statistically, the team relies heavily on Kelly’s ball protection, as ASU is 6-8 with Kelly as the starter when he throws an interception, compared to a 12-1 record when he doesn’t - the lone loss coming in the Pac-12 Championship game against Stanford.. All six of the victories with interceptions came in 2013, showing an improved ability to overcome adversity at the hands of turnovers. Kelly finished the season ranked 13th nationally in points responsible for with 222 (28 passing TDs, nine rushing), breaking the previous school record in the category of 198 previously set by Mike Pagel in 1981.  

HE’S GOT LEGS, AND HE KNOWS HOW TO USE THEM Taylor Kelly’s ability to extend plays was exceptional last season, as demonstrated by his 516 net rushing yards on 134 attempts on the year - a mark skewed by the fact that sacks count against his rushing total.  If you take out sacks, Kelly would have led the team in yardage and yards per carry with 690 net rushing yards last season on 103 carries (6.7 ypc). Sacks aside in 2013, Kelly had 826 rushing yards on 134 attempts (6.2 ypc) and was on fire in the last nine games with nine rushing touchdowns while rushing for 599 yards (sacks excluded) on 106 carries (5.7 yards per rush). Those nine touchdowns were notable as Kelly had just one rushing touchdown in 18 games prior to the current streak. Kelly was second on the team with 43 rushes for first down, trailing only Marion Grice (45). He was also second on the team in “explosive plays” on the ground (rushes of 12 or more yards) with 18 in 2013, trailing only Marion Grice’s 19. Additionally, Kelly has now punted 14 times in his career, with 10 of those being downed inside of the 20-yard line. Kelly had a season-long 50-yarder against Oregon State. 

TAYLOR MADE ON THIRD DOWN Third down is Taylor Kelly down.  The junior quarterback led the team in third down rushes in 2013 with 30. Fifteen of those went for a first down and six for for a touchdown, more than the entire team has combined on third down this season, rushing or receiving (3). Kelly averaged a team leading 7.6 yards per rush on third down and finished tied for second nationally in touchdown rushes on third down with six. 

#DYNAMICDUO Marion Grice and D.J. Foster were two of just five FBS players that returned last season that had both 400 yards on the ground AND through the air last year and were back at it again in 2013. The duo combined for 2,588 yards of total offense and 30 touchdowns, representing 40.4 percent of ASU’s 6,402 yards for scrimmage in 2013 and 46.9 percent of the team’s offensive touchdowns. The duo was instrumental in moving the chains as well, accounting for 119 of the team’s 312 non-penalty induced first downs this season (38.1 percent). Foster and Grice ranked first and eighth, respectively, in 2013 in receiving yards by a running back (653 and 438) while Grice led the nation in receiving touchdowns by an RB with six. 

FOSTER THE PEOPLE For the second straight season D.J. Foster was second on the team in all-purpose yardage with 1,170 yards in 2013 (501 on the ground. 653 by air and 16 on KR).  He had 25 explosive plays on the year (12 receiving, 13 rushing), which was third on the team. Foster made his mark in the receiving game in 2013 with 63 grabs for 653 yards (10.4 ypc), ranking second on the team in both categories. He posted his first career multi-touchdown game against Washington State, logging two receiving touchdowns in the contest. He also had a knack for getting to the first down marker as finished tied for second on the team with 53 first downs on 156 touches this season (34.0 percent). 

A STRONG START All told, 23 Sun Devils made their debuts this 2013, but few turned as many heads as Jaelen Strong.  The junior college transfer led the team in receptions and yards with 75 grabs for 1,122 yards (5.4 rpg/80.1 ypg) and seven touchdowns in 2013. In his first four games, Strong made his mark by posting the best four starts of any receiver in term of yards and receptions in school history.  Prior to Strong, no Sun Devil wide receiver in history had posted more than one 100+ yard game in their first four starts.  Strong accomplished the feat three times in that span and finished with seven 100+ yard games through his first 14 games at ASU.  With 75 receptions this season, Strong is fifth on ASU’s all-time single season receptions list while his current clip of 5.4 receptions per game is good for fifth as well 

THE FORCE IS STRONG Just as impressive as Jaelen Strong’s statistics were, his ability to make catches when they count can’t be overlooked. A total of 47 of his receptions went for first downs while he has also drew 10 pass interference penalties against opposing defenses (six of which resulted in first downs, four were declined as they were all still caught for either a first down, touchdown or two-point conversion), thus playing a role in 53 of ASU’s 340 total first downs this season. Putting that in perspective, ASU’s leading wide receiver last season has just 28 first downs in the entirety of 2012. His 12 receptions for a first down when the team is facing third or fourth down currently lead the team and two of his four touchdown grabs this season have come on fourth down. Additionally, Strong is second on the team in explosive plays (rushes over 12 yards and receptions over 16 yards) with 29 this season.  The leading receiver for the Sun Devils over the entire 13 games last season in the category had 18 explosive receiving plays, a figure Strong took just six games to break. 

HOLD ‘EM BACK ASU prides itself on its aggressive defense under Todd Graham, forcing 117 tackles for a loss of 497 total yards in 2012 - 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 with incomplete passes added to the mix, ASU forced 341 plays that did not result in positive yardage (35.8 percent of opponent’s plays from scrimmage).  In 2013, the ASU defense had 101 tackles for loss and held offenses to 353 plays (out of 942 by the opposition) that did not earn positive yardage (including incomplete passes) - a 37.4 percentage rate of plays run from the line of scrimmage.  The Sun Devils finished 20th nationally and second in the conference in tackles for loss per game (7.2).

BETTER SUITED FOR HANDKERCHIEFS The Sun Devils don’t give referees much reason to reach for their pockets under Todd Graham. Fourteen of ASU’s 18 least penalized games since 2006 have come under Todd Graham, including eight of the 14 games played in 2013.  SInce Todd Graham arrived at Arizona State, the Sun Devils have had just 111 penalties in 27 games (4.1 penalties per game). The team only has 56 penalities to date is 2013 compared to 55 in 2012 under Graham.

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 eight 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 2013, the Sun Devils finished eighth in fewest penalties (4.00) and seventh in fewest penalty yards per game (31.4). 

LIGHT ‘EM UP  Putting points on the scoreboard won’t typically be a problem with Mike Norvell heading the offense, as ASU eclipsed 50 points six times in games in 2013, breaking the school record held by the 1973 team. ASU’s 265 points at the midway point in 2013 (six games) were the second-most in program history through the first six games of a season, trailing only the 278 posted by Frank Kush’s Fiesta Bowl winning team in 1972, which holds the school record for points per game (46.8) and total points (562).  ASU’s 62 points against USC tied for the most any team has ever scored against the Trojans and marked the first time ASU had dropped 50+ on its Pac-12 South rival. It was the second-most points ASU has ever scored in a conference matchup behind only the 65 scored against Stanford in 2002. ASU went 86 games without scoring 60 from 2005-2011. Under Coach Graham it has scored 60 three times (63 NAU, 62 Navy, 62 USC). The Sun Devils finished 10th nationally at 39.7 points per game and scored 556 total points, just six points behind the 1972 school record.

DROPPIN’ A 50 SPOT  ASU posted its fourth consecutive game scoring over 50 points against a Pac-12 opponent with 55 against Washington State and accomplished the feat six times in 2013. ASU’s four straight 50+ games against Pac-12 opponents were notable because prior to this season, the Sun Devils had only ever scored 40+ against consecutive Pac-10/12 foes once before in 1996 when the squad put up 45, 48, 42, 48 and 41 against UW, UO, UCLA, USC and Stanford, respectively, in 1996.  The team only has managed to score 30+ in four straight games in just three seasons during the Pac-10/12 era: 1993, 1996 and this season. ASU’s 55 points against Washington State were the most it had ever scored against the Cougars and the most the team had scored in an away conference matchup since scoring 56 against Arizona in 1996 and was the third-highest tally for a Pac-10/12 road game in history behind the 62 scored against Stanford in 1981. The Sun Devils also set a Territorial Cup record as far as Pac-10/12 era games (58) in the victory over Arizona. ASU’s six games this season of 50 or more points surpassed its total from the previous four seasons combined (5). 

MAKE ‘EM PAY  ASU isn’t in the habit of leaving points off the board following turnovers. In 2013, ASU outscored its opponents 146-42 on points off turnovers while posting a +15 takeaway number.  ASU put points on the board following 75.8 percent of oppponent turnovers (25-of-33) compared to just the 33.3 (6-of-18) percent clip ASU opponents scoredoff of Sun Devil turnovers. ASU had 18 touchdowns in 2013 on 33 opponent turnovers, aided by five interception returns for touchdowns. Last season, the Sun Devil offense put points in the bank on 70.0 of its conversion opportunities, scoring 18 touchdowns off of 30 turnovers forced. ASU outscored opponents 139-58 in points off turnovers over the course of last season, despite posting just a middling +6 number in the takeaway category. Much of that came by way of the defense, which did an admirable job of limiting opponents following turnovers by the offense.  Last year, 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. In two years under Todd Graham, ASU has outscored opponents 275-100 in points of turnovers. 

TURNOVER FACTORY  The Sun Devils have forced a turnover in 29 consecutive games (including every game of the Todd Graham era), an active streak that currently ranks second among FBS institutions behind Missouri. Stanford previously had ranked ahead of the Sun Devils but ASU did not give up a turnover in the Pac-12 Championship game. ASU led the Pac-12 with 33 takeaways in 2013, finishing fifth nationally. The team was seventh nationally with a 1.1 turnover margin.  The squad has forced 63 turnovers under Todd Graham in the last two seasons, second most among FBS institutions behind only Houston (74).

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 is working to re-write that definition with a defense that finds a way to directly lead to points on the board. The Sun Devils have five interception returns for touchdowns in 2013 and one safety, making the ASU defense directly responsible for 37 of ASU’s points this season. Last year, ASU had three interceptions returned for touchdowns. Considering 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 the Sun Devils in 2012 and placed their stamp on 148 of ASU’s 566 points (26.0 percent) scored in 2013.  The icing on the cake for this statistic game on a goaline touchdown pass to defensive tackle Davon Coleman against Colorado, technically increasing ASU’s defensive total to 155 points. 

#NOFLYZONE The Sun Devil secondary had been up to task in the six-game winning streak leading up to the Pac-12 Championship, holding opponents to an average of 68.7 fewer passing yards per game than teams were averaging prior and no team in that time had thrown for more than their average coming in to that game. ASU finished third in the conference in passing yards allowed in Pac-12 games (222.3 per game).  ASU now has eight interception returns for touchdowns under Graham, compared to posting just four total in the previous three seasons prior to 2012. The total is tied for second with Baylor behind only SMU (9) for the most in the past two seasons. ASU had 21 interceptions in 2013, ranked first in the conference and third nationally, and had 62 passes defensed, ranked 42nd nationally.  ASU’s five interception returns for touchdowns in 2013 were tied for first nationally with Florida State ,Baylor and Arizona. The Sun Devils have 42 interceptions in the last two seasons, second in the FBS behind only Houston (44). 

GOLD ZONE One area that has seen improvement this season for the Sun Devils is red zone offense, with ASU putting points on the board 91.3 percent of the time against FBS opponents in 2013, finishing sixth nationally in the category, as per TeamRankings.com. With exception of a couple mercy kneels in the middle of the season, ASU had scored on 58-straight red zone drives prior to having two series fall short against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game. Last season, ASU scored on just 76.1 percent of their drives inside the 20 and ranked a lowly 93rd in the nation against FBS opponents.  On the flip side, ASU allowed its FBS opponents to score 88.9 percent of the time in 2013 when entering the red zone (ranked 106th nationally), compared to an 80.5 percent figure last season that was 51st in the nation. That being said, the Sun Devils didn’t let opponents into the red zone often, doing so just 46 times in 2013, ranked 56th nationally for fewest opponent red zone drives (compared to 75 trips for the Sun Devil offense, which leds the nation).

WINNING THE BATTLE FOR FIELD POSITION The Sun Devils were largely exceptional when it came to starting field position last season, and continue to resonate a point Todd Graham habitually makes about being successful in the field position battle to win games. The Sun Devils didn’t allow a single Oregon State drive to start in Sun Devil territory. Under Todd Graham, ASU has had an average starting yard line of its own 36.8 in 18 victories compared to a starting yard line of the 25.1 for their opponents in such contests.  Conversely, opponents have an average starting field position of their own 33.7 yard line compared to ASU starting at its own 29.2 in ASU’s nine losses under Graham. in 2012, ASU posted an average starting spot of its own 33-yard line that ranked 10th in the nation, according to the folks at Football Outsiders (www.footballoutsiders.com) and in 2013, the team ranked 13th nationally (average starting yard line: 33.3). The Sun Devils also held their opponents to an average starting line of their own 28-yard-line, a total that ranked 24th nationally in 2013, though the squad dropped a bit to 32nd this season (average opp. starting yardline: 28.2). All that being said, even facing bad field position this season, the Sun Devils haven’t necessarily fared badly.  ASU had 10 scoring drives of 80 yards or longer through in 2013 (including the game-winning drive aganst Utah), a notable feat as ASU had six such drives in the entirety of the 2012 season.

CLOSING THINGS OUT ASU outscored opponents 132-79 in the fourth quarter of 2013 contests. As whole, ASU has outscored other teams 258-141 in the fourth quarter under Todd Graham.  ASU finished 10th in the nation in points per fourth quarter in 2013 against FBS opposition (9.9) after finishing the 2012 season wtih 9.3 points per fourth quarter, which was good for eighth nationally. ASU’s 16.8 second-half points per game against FBS squads in 2013 was 24th nationally.  The team’s victory over Utah marked the second fourth-quarter comeback of the Todd Graham era and the first of the 2013 campaign. All these numbers are made more impressive by the fact that ASU had played in three consecutive blowouts prior to the Utah game and spent much of those second halves running out the clock against their opposition. 

HALFTIME MOMENTUM The Sun Devils did good job of building some cushion heading into halftime this season, finishing fourth nationally in second quarter points per game at 12.6.  The Sun Devils scored 20 or more points in five of the second quarters in 2013 and outscored the opposition 192-115 in 2013 in the second quarter of games - the highest point discrepency between ASU and its opponent in any quarter on the season. 

USE THEM WISELY Todd Graham doesn’t hesitate to use his alotted three timeouts per half when his squad is on defense, a coaching technique that has plenty of detractors. A closer look at the result of the play following those timeouts might quiet some, however.  ASU used 15 timeouts this season with its opponents facing third down. The Sun Devil defense forced a fourth down on 10 of those occassions (66.7 percent).

THE STREAK ENDS Seniors Evan Finkenberg and Osahon Irabor began 2013 as two of the most seasoned starters in the Pac-12.  Only Oregon State’s Michael Philipp (48) finished with more starts than Finkenberg and Irabor, who each had 47. Irabor’s statistic was particularly notable as he has started all 47 of his games consecutively - a mark that led the Pac-12 Conference ahead of Washington State’s John Fullington, who had 43.

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), 21.5 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 had 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 in 2012 to total 80+ tackles, 20+ TFLs AND 10+ sacks on the year. Despite being held statless in two games in 2013, Bradford - who has declared for the NFL draft - finished the last season of his Sun Devil career with 61 tackles (fifth on the team) with 19.0 coming for loss and 8.5 sacks in the process, both numbers leading the team. With 41 tackles for loss over the past two season, Bradford amassed the fourth most total nationally in category behind only Aaron Donald (Pitt), Trent Murphy (Stanford) and Anthony Barr (UCLA)

A SUTTON IMPACT Despite facing double teams nearly every snap in 2013, Will Sutton had 48 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks with a fumble recovery, an interception and four passes defensed. Sutton was stellar against Utah, posting a career-high nine tackles while also adding his first career interception to seal the game against the Utes.  While quarterback hurries aren’t an officially kept stat, a look through the game tapes 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). Sutton had 45.5 tackles for loss in his career, good for eighth in ASU history. He earned his second consecutive Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2013 in addition to being named an AP All-American for the second season.  Among all defensive tackles in the country, Sutton finished behind only Pitt’s Aaron Donald for the most tackles for loss in the past two seasons with 37 (Donald had 47). 

#DYNAMICDUOPARTDEUX Between Bradford and Sutton, the Sun Devils had 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).  In 2013, the tandem combined for 32.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, nine PBUs, three fumbles forced, one fumble recovered and two interceptions. 

NO LUMP OF COLE It’s tough to get love in the media as a defensive lineman with guys like Carl Bradford and Will Sutton on your squad, but senior Davon Coleman is quietly putting up one of the most impressive numbers in recent memory.  Coleman was tied for first on the team with 8.5 sacks in 2013 and was third with 15.0 tackles for loss.  Despite being a lineman, Coleman was sixth on the team with 58 tackles on the year while adding one blocked field goal, one pass defensed and even throwing in an offensive touchdown reception on the year for good measure. 

#NOFIRSTDOWNFORYOU The ASU defense forced opponents to 80 three-and-outs on 189 drives (42.3 percent), ranked fifth nationally with 5.71 three-and-outs per game in 2013. Washington entered the Homecoming contest ranked third-best in the FBS in not allowing teams to force them to three-and-outs, only having nine of them in 77 total drives. The Sun Devils held the Huskies to six in the first half alone, and forced them to surpass their season total in one game, holding the potent Husky offense to 10 three-and-outs in the contest. ASU held Utah to four straight fourth-quarter drives that resulted in three-and-outs out of its eight on the day to help pave the way for the team’s comeback.  ASU’s 80 total three and outs forced during the 2013 season were the second most nationally behind only Baylor (83).

NELSON ISLE Cornerback Robert Nelson, who collected two interceptions in the victory over Oregon State, had six interceptions on the season.  That is the most since Troy Nolan had six in 2007.  The most prior to that was six by Nathan LaDuke in 1989.  Eric Allen had eight in 1987. Both Nolan and LaDuke were safeties, so Nelson had the most interceptions in a season by a cornerback since Allen.  Nelson had a streak with interceptions in four of six games and five total interceptions in that time in the latter half of the ASU season, returning his first for a touchdown against Oregon State. His 0.4 interception per game mark was 19th nationally and fourtg in the conference whiled his six total interceptions also paced the Pac-12.

NOT IN IRABOR’S HOUSE Defensive back Osahon Irabor was a force last year with 14 passes defended on the season to lead the team.  The 14 pass breakups in 2012 were the most by a Sun Devil since Justin Tryon had 16 in 2007.  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.  Irabor finished eighth on the team with 54 tackles in 2013. He has 5.5 tackles for loss on the year, an impressive statistic considering he had ZERO in the previous two seasons.  Irabor recorded his first interception of the season against USC and followed that up with his first career pick-six against Notre Dame - a 37-yard march to the house which was notable as it was Irabor’s fifth career interception but just the first to result in positive yardage after his return against USC was negated by a penalty. He is third on the team with seven passes defensed this 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. 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 had 29 catches for 423 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, averaging a solid 14.6 yards per catch.  Coyle finished his career with 92 career receptions, holding sole possession of third on ASU’s all-time tight end receptions list.  His nine touchdowns rank tied for fourth in ASU history among tight ends with Jamaal Lewis. 

INTERCEPTION DARBY Alden Darby has made a reputation as a ball-hawking safety during his four years at Arizona State, and logged the seventh and eighth interceptions of his career against USC while recording his second pick-six in the process. He added his ninth career interception against OSU and one more against Arizona for his 10th. He finished his career with 253 all-time interception return yards, which was the third-most interception return yards all-time at Arizona State. Darby, a Lott IMPACT Trophy Quarterfinalist, was named the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week for the performance against USC and was also honored as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week as well for the effort. Darby led the team with 13 passes defended in 2013, which was tied for fourth in the Pac-12.

 NO RUSH After holding Washington to –5 yards rushing on Oct. 19, the Sun Devils then took a step back and allowed Washington State to run wild for….two yards. Those two numbers are both top-five marks in the past 18 seasons. After struggling against the run through the first five games of the 2013 season (allowing opponents an average of 182.8 yards per game and ranking 86th in the FBS in the category at the time), the Sun Devil defense found its groove during the squad’s seven-game winning streak in holding opponents to a lowly 98.8 yards per game in that span despite facing one of the top-ranked rushing programs in the country in Arizona. Even then, Arizona was held under their season average with 249 rushing yards in the contest. ASU held six opponents under 100 rushing yards this season, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since 2009 when the team also had six such games. The Sun Devils finished the season ranked 26th nationally and fourth in the Pac-12, allowing opponents to average just 137.6 yards per game on the ground.

GOLD RUSH ASU finished the 2012 season averaging 205.5 yards per game on the ground, which was the second-best mark in the past 25 seasons (since 1988). Only the 234.1 yards per game put up by the 1996 Sun Devils were better.  It was a little bit of a slow start for the Sun Devils in 2013 but the team found its running legs by the end, averaging 191.4 yards per game and ranked 40th nationally. Even after ASU’s slow start to the season in the category, the squad still posted the fourth-highest single season rushing mark of the last 25 seasons. ASU rushed for over 200 yards in three straight contests prior to Utah, a feat the team accomplished over the course of the last three games last season. Prior to that, however, the Sun Devils had not accomplished the feat since - well, most of you can predict the pattern by now - 1996.  During the seven game winning streak, ASU averaged 229.1 yards per game on the ground compared to just 98.8 yards per game that opponents posted.

ROAD WARRIORS Winning away from home in college football is difficult, especially in conference games.  Coach Todd Graham ASU is beginning to assemble a pretty good resume of road/neutral site victories, collecting four in 2012 (at California, Colorado, Arizona and vs. Navy at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl).  In 2013, ASU garnered three straight road wins (at Washington State, at Utah and at #14 UCLA) and are winners of four of the last five road games under Graham. That is seven road wins in the past 12 road games for ASU, including six Pac-12 Conference road wins in the past nine Pac-12 road games.  ASU also has had two very close losses on the road under Graham, a four point loss at Missouri and a three-point loss to Notre Dame in Dallas.

FOREVER YOUNG Senior linebacker Chris Young led the team in tackles for the seventh game this season - and fourth in the last five - with eight in the game against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship. Young had a career-high four tackles for loss in the process as well as a fumble recovered and a fumble forced to go along with a sack.  Young finished his exceptional two year career at Arizona State with 112 tackles. In doing so, it marked just the second time since 1989-90 that two separate players in back-to-back seasons had reached 100 tackles (Brandon Magee also accomplished the feat in 2012). 

RECORD NOTABLES ASU reached six Pac-10/12 wins for just the fourth time in 36 seasons since it joined the league in 1978. It was 8-0 in 1996, 6-2 in 1997 and 7-2 in 2007. Keep in mind the league only played seven league games in 1978 and 1979, played eight in 1980, then went to a seven-game slate from 1981-90. The league went to eight-game slate in 1991 and then a nine-game slate in 2006. The team’s eight wins match the 1996 school record for the most conference wins in Sun Devil history (including Border and WAC schedules). With the Territorial Cup win, ASU now has 10 wins on the 2013 season and that is the first time since the 2007 season.  In fact, in the history of Sun Devil football ASU has reached the 10-win plateau on 12 times. Additionally, all eight of ASU’s conference victories came consecutively and capped a streak that marked just the 13th time in history the Sun Devils won five or more conference games in a row (Border and WAC years included).  Prior to this season, ASU had won five or more conference games in a row just three times (‘96, ‘97, ‘07) since 1987.  With a victory in the bowl game, it would mark just the second 11-win season in the past 38 seasons (1976-2013) for ASU. Prior to the 11-1 1996 season, ASU won at least 11 games in 1975 (12-0), 1973 (11-1), 1971 (11-1) and 1970 (11-0).

EXPLOSIVE You’d be hard-pressed to listen to a Todd Graham press conference that didn’t involve the word “explosive” at some point as the head coach makes no attempt to hide the fact that that’s what he wants his team to be.  The Sun Devils have a classification of “explosive plays” that equal a run of 12 or more yards or a passing play of 16 or more yards.  ASU finished with 142 such plays in 2013 (82 passing, 60 rushing) compared to 90 passing explosive plays to 75 rushing explosions in 2012. Jaelen Strong finished with 29 explosive plays as a wide receiver, notable for the fact that Rashad Ross and D.J. Foster each had 18 explosive receiving plays all season in 2012, the highest tally on the team.  The Sun Devils finished the season tied for seventh in the nation in plays longer than 20 yards in 2013 with 86 after having 72 in 2012 and finishing 19th in the country in the category.

PROTECT THIS HOUSE With the loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship, ASU finished the season with a 7-1 record at Sun Devil Stadium and is now 11-under Todd Graham in Tempe. With the game considered a neutral site, 2013 marked just the second time ASU has gone undefeated at home in the past 16 seasons (since 1997), also going 6-0 in 2004.  ASU also had a perfect record at home in ‘59, ‘64, ‘68, ‘70, ‘71, ‘73, ‘75, ‘81 and ‘96.  After 13 games under Todd Graham, the Sun Devils have averaged 46.1 points per game at home, including a 63-point performance against NAU in 2012 and a 62-point performance this season against USC. The lowest score the Devils have recorded at home under Graham is 21 against Oregon last season and have scored 20 or more in 20 consecutive games in true home games, dating back to 2010. ASU outscored opponents 198-51 in the first half at home this season. ASU’s 49.1 points per game at home in 2013 were sixth in the nation, just shy ofthe school record for scoring offense at home, which was 49.2 points set by the 1972 team. 

RUN THE CLOCK One of the biggest areas improvement for the Sun Devils in 2013 the clock management side of things. In 2012 ASU ranked seventh in the Pac-12 and 80th nationally in time of possession, holding the ball an average of 29:15 per game.  In 2013, ASU averaged 30:21 minutes of possession time per game - a total that ranked fourth in the conference and 51st nationally.  The team had 13 scoring drives over four minutesin 2013, compared to just three in 2012.  “So, ASU’s offense scores fast and thus time of possession is irrelevent,” you say? Not so fast, my friend. ASU is 11-2 when leading in time of possession under Todd Graham compared to a 7-8 record when trailing in the time of possession category.

IN-ZANE IN THE MEMBRANE True freshman placekicker Zane Gonzalez had a nice hot streak in 2013, hitting 18 straight field goals beginning the USC game on September 28 before missing one in the Pac-12 Championship game against Stanford.  The Deer Park, Texas, product did, however, earn Pac-12 First Team honors for his incredible season. Gonzalez finished the year hitting 25 of 30 field goals (83.3 percent) and booted 63 of 65 extra points.  Gonzalez finished No. 10 in the nation in scoring at 9.9 points per game and led the Pac-12 kick scoring category by a large margin.  The next kicker on the list was Stanford’s Jordan Williamson at 8.8.  His 138 points by kick scoring were No. 1 in the Pac-12, far ahead of No. 2 Travis Coons of Colorado (107 points).  Gonzalez was No. 1 in the Pac-12 in field goals at 1.7 per game.  Gonzalez led the Pac-12 with 25 field goals, seven ahead of Williamson’s 18 field goals this season.  Gonzalez was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s top kicker. 

FG-onzal-EZ Gonzalez finished with 138 points on the season, breaking the long-standing school record in the category that was previous held by Wilford White’s 136 in 1950. Gonzalez’s 138 points demolished the previous scoring record by an ASU kicker that was 118, set by Thomas Weber (2007) and Mike Barth (2002). With 25 field goals this season, Gonzalez tied the NCAA freshman record of 25 that was set by UCLA’s Kai Forbath in 2007 (25-30) and made more field goals than any other player in the FBS in the process and four more than any other freshman in the nation. 

TODD-BITS OF INFO 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 followed by a 55.2 percent tally in 2013. In 2011, ASU rushed just 44.5 percent of the time. Over the past eight 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 in 2012, the second-best mark in the nation, and then 2.9 in 2013 to finish 17th nationally in the category. In eight seasons, Graham is 25-22 in true road games. ASU was 3-3 in such games in 2012 and 3-2 in road games in 2013.  In the previous four seasons prior to Graham’s arrival, ASU was 5-16. In seventh of the past eight 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, and bettered that in 2013 at just 31.36 penalty yards per game (seventh nationally).

HANG ON TO YOUR SEATS ASU played in four games in 2013 decided by seven points or less, going 3-1 in those contests.  The total is notable as ASU was just 4-13 in the previous four seasons in games decided by less than a touchdown.   

TODD’S WINNING WAYS At one point ranked 11th in the AP Poll, Todd Graham achieved his highest ranking as a head coach in his career in 2013. The team also peaked at 11th in the BCS standings, also a new high for Graham. Graham has won 18 games in his first two seasons at Arizona State. To put that into perspective, Frank Kush won 17 games in his first two seasons as head coach.  Of all the coaching hires made in prior to the 2012 season, Graham has posted the fifth-best record alongside UCLA’s Jim Mora during his first two years at the helm at 18-8 behind only Urban Meyer (24-2), Tim DeRuyter (20-6), Kevin Sumlin (20-6) and Jim More (19-8). 

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE The Sun Devils’ 10 wins in 2013 are made even more impressive by the fact that the team held the nation’s sixth toughest schedule based on the winning percentage of opponents played. ASU’s non-FCS opponents in 2013 posted a 84-50 record on the season (62.7) and marked the toughest schedule played by a Pac-12 institution. 

TAKING DOWN THE TOP ASU was 3-2 this season against team’s ranked in the AP Top-25 Poll.  ASU defeated No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 20 Washington and No. 14 UCLA in 2013 while losing to Stanford twice.  ASU’s three victories are the most since 1997 when the team went 3-1 against teams ranked in the AP poll.  The school record for AP wins is five, set by the 1986 Rose Bowl team.  

#LOOKGRICEBEFORECROSSING Despite missing the last couple games to injury, Marion Grice was still fifth in the nation in scoring in 2013 at 10.9 points per game and was able to get it into the end zone in a variety of ways.  In 2012, Grice led the nation’s running backs with eight receiving touchdowns.  He achieved the feat again 2013 as he led the nation’s running backs with six receiving TDs this year.  Grice was on pace to upend all manners of scoring records for ASU before his injury. He now has 39 career touchdowns, ranking him fifth all-time in ASU history, despite playing in just 23 games. Wilford White’s touchdowns per game for a career record of 1.33 went down with Grice averaging 1.63 per game in his career. Grice’s early season tear was impressive as he became one of just four FBS players in the past decade to score 12 touchdowns before October.  Michael Crabtree had 14 for Texas Tech in 2007 in five games while MSU’s Javon Ringer also had 12 in five games in 2008. Grice joined Temple’s Bernard Pierce (2011) as the only two players to accomplish the feat in just four games.  

#NATTYGRICE When it came to having to convert in clutch opportunities, Marion Grice had ice in his veins, answering the call time and time again.  His exceptional touchdown numbers aside, Grice also led the team before his injury in third down conversions in 2013 with 21 of ASU’s 67 successful conversion attempts (31.3 percent) at the point of the injury. The number is worth mentioning as Grice led the team last season as well in the category, but did so with just 14 conversions on ASU’s 89 successful attempts. Grice led the team this season with 66 first down conversions (45 rushing, 21 receiving) of the 258 non-penalty induced first downs (25.6 percent) prior to his injury. Grice also didn’t put ASU in many loss-of-yardage positions, having posted nearly twice as many touchdowns in his career (39) as negative-yardage plays in his (21). Oh, and he didn’t dropped the ball.  Grice toted the ball 406 times in his career (294 rushes, 91 receptions and 21 returns) without losing a single fumble during the span. 

#THEPRICEISGRICE Grice became just the just the 15th conference player in the Pac-10/12 era to notch 20 touchdowns in the past 36 seasons with his two touchdown performance against OSU. It has happened 16 times, with LaMichael James of Oregon doing it twice. Grice is steadily closing in on the Pac-12 record for touchdowns in a season, 28, held by Stanford’s Toby Gerhert in 2009. Grice also eclipsed 100 all-purpose yards in his last 13 games dating back to 2012, marking the fourth-longest active streak in the FBS.

GRICING ON THE CAKE Thought you were done reading Marion Grice notes? Lucky for you, there’s more.  Not only did ASU established itself as one of the top red zone teams in the country in 2013, but Grice was among the nation’s top red zone rushers as well.  Arizona State had been inside the red zone 63 times this season prior to the Grice injury. Grice carried the football in the red zone 49 times through 11 games and scored a touchdown on just over a quarter of those with 13 touchdown rushes - a total that ranked tied for fourth nationally as far as red zone rushing scores at the time. Additionally, Grice led the nation’s running backs with nine receptions inside the red zone at the time of injury - ranked 23rd nationally among ALL FBS players - with five touchdowns on those nine grabs.  All told, Grice had 58 red zone touches in 2013 and 18 touchdowns on those plays, finding paydirt approximately 31 percent of the time. 

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