Meet the Sun Devils

North Carolina (1-5, 0-3 ACC) and Arizona State (3-3. 1-2 PAC-10) wrap up their non-conference schedules Saturday at Kenan Stadium, each coming off its biggest win of the year.

Click here to view ASU coach Dirk Koetter's Monday quotes.

The Sun Devils got their offense on track in conference last week against Oregon, scoring a season-high 59 points after averaging just 19.2 points per game in the first five games. Like the Tar Heels, Arizona State boasts a junior record-setting quarterback, their indisputable team leader, Andrew Walter.

Besides Oregon, ASU's wins have been against questionable competition (Northern Arizona, Utah State), while its losses have come against much more formidable programs (No. 14 Iowa, Oregon State, No. 10 USC), albeit by a combined score of 103-36. The Sun Devils have scored on their last nine visits to the red zone.

Led by game-breaking safeties Riccardo Stewart and Jason Shivers, the Sun Devils have 310 return yards on 11 interceptions. The defense as a whole is allowing 375 yards per game of total offense – 130.3 rush, 245 pass.

Here's IC's weekly trip through the depth chart of UNC's next opponent.


Against the Ducks, Andrew Walter (6-5. 222, Jr.) completed 18 of 28 passes for 316 yards and no interceptions, including three scoring tosses to three different receivers, earning him PAC-10 Player of the Week honors. He has twelve touchdowns against six interceptions on the year and is averaging 252.2 yards per game. Against the Tar Heels, Walter will attempt to throw for over 300 yards for the third consecutive game. With his 316 yards last week, he moved into fifth place on ASU's all-time career passing list with 5,936 yards. In the game with Oregon in 2002, Walter threw for an amazing 536 yards.

Click here to view Walter's Monday quotes.

Running Backs

The ball is spread around to as many as five tailbacks when it stays on the ground, with Hakim Hill (6-0, 218, So.) and Loren Wade (6-0, 212, Fr*) as the primary ball carriers. In a 45-17 loss to the Beavers, Hakim Hill led the team in both rushing and receiving in his first career start, while Wade is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. The two have combined for 607 rushing yards – 94.6 per game – and four touchdowns, but Randy Hill (6-2, 204, Fr.*), Mike Williams (6-0, 211, Sr.) and even Washington Redskins' running back Trung Canidate's brother, Cornell Canidate (5-9, 201, So.), could see action. Although fullback Mike Karney (6-0, 256, Sr.) hasn't carried the ball at all this season in Dirk Koetter's pass-filled offense, he is still considered by many as one of the nation's best blocking fullbacks.

Wide Receivers

Five different receivers led the Sun Devils in six games so far this season. Skyler Fulton (6-1, 208, Sr.) has five touchdown receptions and is averaging 70. yards per game. Last season, Daryl Lightfoot (5-9, 163, Jr.) caught 40 passes for 552 yards, but has just seven catches so far this season. Derek Hagan (6-2, 188, So.), who has paced the team in the last two contests with 15 catches for 278 yards, has caught three scoring passes. The Sun Devils had three players turn in career highs in receiving Sept. 20 at Iowa, led by Matt Miller (6-2, 173, So.) who caught seven passes for 45 yards.

Offensive Line

Heading into 2002, five graduated seniors – four of whom were drafted in the National Football League – had to be replaced at the beginning of the season. But depth is not a concern this year, as all five starters return, including guards' Regis Crawford (6-3, 315, Sr.) and Tim Fa'aita (6-1, 310, Jr.), tackles' Chaz White (6-4, 290, So.) and Tony Aguilar (6-3, 299, Sr.), and center Drew Hodgdon (6-3, 291, Jr.). However younger players' Andrew Carnahan (6-8, 288, Fr.*) and Grayling Love (6-3, 298, So.) have taken over as the starters at each tackle position, with White and Aguilar still figuring prominently in the rotation.

Tight Ends

None of the three tight ends figure much into the passing attack. Lee Burghgraef (6-5, 248, So.) is the starter, and the only tight end to touch the ball with two catches for 28 yards. Highly-touted Aaron Austin (6-5, 254, Jr.) joined the team after a productive sophomore season at Fresno (Calif.) Community College in which he scored nine touchdowns in 10 regular-season games. Austin enrolled in classes during the spring semester at ASU while participating in workouts with the Sun Devils. Having bulked up since entering camp last fall, Jamaal Lewis (6-4, 245, Fr.*) will likely also be in to help protect Walter.

Defensive Line

The ASU defense ranks second in the PAC-10 with 21 quarterback sacks, including nine against Utah State. While it was impossible to replace All-America end Terrell Suggs – now an outside linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens and the most decorated player in Sun Devils' history - they've got a number of players that will try to fill his shoes. Ends Jimmy Verdon (6-4, 283, Jr.) and Ishmael Thrower (6-1, 241, Jr.) have combined for six sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. Tackles' Brian Montessanto (6-5, 258, Gr.) and Shane Jones (6-2, 306, Sr.) have been a key components to the team's success.


ASU plays just two linebackers in most situations, with Jamar Williams (6-1, 235, So.) and Justin Burks (6-1, 247, Jr.) as the starters. The tandem has a combined total of 80 tackles – six for loss – and three sacks. With the departure of three talented seniors, Williams has assumed the leadership role among the linebacking corps. Barton Hammit (6-0, 222, So.), who played in seven games as a true freshman in 2001, has returned from knee surgery and has looked impressive.


Defensive Backs

In the Sun Devils' five-back scheme, safeties' Jason Shivers (6-0, 192, So.) and Riccardo Stewart (5-10, 210, Jr.) are the second and third most prolific tacklers in the PAC-10 and each has three interceptions. Shivers and cornerback R.J. Oliver (5-9, 170, Jr.) are candidates for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. The other corner, Emmanuel Franklin (5-11, 190, Jr.), has started four of six games this year, after missing the 2002 season following brain surgery. Safety Brett Hudson (6-2, 223, Sr.) is fifth on the team in tackles.

Special Teams

Lightfoot represents his surname well, returning eight kickoffs this season for 189 yards. He has yet to take one to the house however. Punt returner Josh Golden (5-10, 174, So.) is averaging 11.9 yards per return. Punter Tim Parker (6-0, 197, Sr.) ranks fourth in the PAC-10 and 20th in the nation with a 43.8-yard average. Jesse Ainsworth (6-3, 206, Fr.) took over as the starting kicker during the Sept. 27 game with Utah State, and has since made 3-of-5 field goals and is perfect on extra point tries. His career-long is 45 yards.

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