December 3, 2007

An early look at the Sun Devils

Record: 10-2 (7-2 in Pac-10)


Scoring Offense - 34th nationally, 2nd in the Pac-10 (32.2 points per game)
Total Offense - 52th nationally, 4th in the Pac-10 (405.7 yards per game)
Rush Offense - 67th nationally, 7th in the Pac-10 (146.6 yards per game)
Pass Offense - 38th nationally, 3rd in the Big 10 (259.1 yards per game)

Scoring Defense - 22nd nationally, 2nd in the Pac-10 (20.1 points per game)
Total Defense - 27th nationally, 3rd in the Pac-10 (334.4 yards per game)
Rush Defense - 13th nationally, 3rd in the Pac-10 (100.9 yards per game)
Pass Defense - 69th nationally, 3rd in the Pac-10 (233.5 yards per game)

Punting - 96th nationally, 7th in the Pac-10 (32.8 yards per kick)
Kickoff returns - 31st nationally, 4th in the Pac-10 (22.9. yards per return)
Punt returns - 40th nationally, 2nd in the Pac-10 (10.2 per return)
Turnover Margin - 24th nationally, 1st in the Pac-10 (+7 on the season)

Best Win - The Sun Devils are similar to the Longhorns in that they didn't pick up a signature win this season against a high-ranked team, but their best win was probably a come-back win over California in October that moved their record to 8-0 and out them in the national title discussion for about a week. Running backs Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance combined for 181 yards and three touchdowns, as the Sun Devils outscored the Bears 17-0 in the second half.
Biggest scare - It took a 37-yard field goal in the final minute of regulation for the Sun Devils to escape a road game at Washington State with a 23-20 win. Even though quarterback Rudy Carpenter was sacked seven times and intercepted twice, the Sun Devils defense was able to lead the way behind Justin Tyron's 69-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Best performance - Carpenter had a career day early in the season when his 361 yards and four passing touchdowns were too much for Oregon State in a 44-32 win. Overall, Carpenter competed 25 of 36 passes and was intercepted only once.

Worst Moment - Needing a win to all but clinch their first Rose Bowl bid since Jake Plummer was roaming the sidelines, the Sun Devils ran into a white-hot USC Trojans squad on Thanksgiving night at home. The Sun Devils allowed more than 500 yards of offense and were dominated in every phase of the game, as USC rolled to a 44-24 win.

Key Offensive Players

Rudy Carpenter - If the Longhorns are going to have success topping the Arizona State passing attack, they are going to have to find a way to frustrate Carpenter, who rebounded from a disappointing 2006 and put together a strong season. The 6-2, 200-pound junior threw for 3,015 yards and 24 touchdowns, while only throwing eight interceptions.

Michael Jones - The former Fort Bend Austin standout is the big-play threat in ASU's passing attack. The 6-4, 208-pound Jones averages better than 17 yards per reception and he's scored eight touchdowns this season.

Thomas Weber - If this game comes down to ASU needing to make a field goal for the win, the Sun Devils will gladly put their freshman place-kicker out on the field. Weber established an ASU record earlier this season when he connected on his first 17 field goal attempts of the season. He finished 22 of 23 on the year and is six of six on kicks longer than 40 yards.

Key Defensive Players

Robert James - The fifth-year senior might be the best defensive player that the Longhorns have seen all season, after leading the Sun Devils defense with 99 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four interceptions on the season. At 5-11, 230 pounds, James just makes a habit of being around the football at all times.

Dexter Davis - The Texas offensive tackles are going to have their hands full with this 6-2, 247-pound playmaker off the edge at defensive end. Davis is a pure playmaker and finished with a team-leading 13.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.

Troy Nolan - The 6-2, 204-pound junior was third on the team in tackles with 59 and led the team with six interceptions. Like James, Nolan is a guy that just finds his way around the football and he has a knack for coming up with the big play.

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