Las Vegas Bowl has two, 8-4 teams, Arizona State vs. Wisconsin tonight at 10:30

December 26, 2021

THE GAME –  Sun Devil Football will conclude the 2021 football season by competing in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 30 against the Wisconsin Badgers at  Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Like the majority of Sun Devil games this season, it will feature a late kickoff with the game scheduled for 8:30 p.m. AZT/7:30 p.m Locally. It will be ASU’s 11th night game of 2021 and 10th to kick off after 7 p.m. Arizona time. The contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPN (Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Dawn Davenport on the call) and available over the airwaves locally on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Jeff Munn).


ON THE BADGERS – Arizona State will take on a familiar foe in the Las Vegas Bowl, having faced Wisconsin four times. The Sun Devils are 3-1 all-time against the Badgers, with the Maroon & Gold coming away with a 32-30 victory in the most recent meeting back in 2013 at Sun Devil Stadium. This will be the first postseason meeting between the two programs. The 2021 Badgers enter the game with the nation’s top total defense and rushing defense, allowing just 240.8 total yards per game and a paltry 65.2 rushing yards per game. ASU sits 18th in total defense (328.7) and that will mark the Las Vegas Bowl as one of just two bowl games outside of the two College Football Playoff semifinals to feature a pair of Top-20 defenses (Clemson vs. Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl). Wisconsin allowed just 733 TOTAL rushing yards this season – a tally ASU surpassed in its final four games alone (896/224.0 per game). 


GOIN’ BOWLIN’

  • ASU has been bowl eligible in nine of the last ten years (since 2011), excluding the 2020 COVID season.
  • ASU is one of only 20 Power 5 schools to have reached bowl eligibility in nine of the last ten years (excluding the 2020 COVID season), a list that includes 2021 Las Vegas Bowl opponent Wisconsin
  • ASU has made four straight bowl games for just the fifth time in program history
  • The Sun Devils have averaged 33.4 points/game over their past seven bowl appearances
  • ASU has scored 30 or more points in 13 bowl games and held opponents to 20 points or less in 9
  • The Sun Devils are 3-2 against teams that were in the Big Ten at the time of the bowl matchup (excluding Rutgers/Nebraska), most recently defeating Purdue 27-23 in the 2004 Sun Bowl
  • Jayden Daniels looks to become just the 3rd quarterback in program history to win two bowl games in his career (Taylor Kelly, 2012/’14; Danny White, 1973/’74/’75)
  • ASU will play their fourth bowl game on December 30, going 2-1 in previous occasions. Most famously, the Sun Devils defeated North Carolina 48-26 in the 1970 Peach Bowl on Dec. 30.
  • 28 different Sun Devils have earned a Bowl Game MVP honor, including current quarterback Jayden Daniels, who was the Offensive MVP of the 2019 Sun Bowl.
  • This is ASU’s first bowl game against a BIG TEN team since 2005.

AN ASU VICTORY WOULD…

  • Move ASU back to .500 all-time in Bowl Games (currently 15-16-1)
  • Be the first time ASU won two straight Bowl Games since 2004 and 2005 (Sun Bowl and Insight Bowl).
  • Give ASU its first 9-win season since a 10-3 2014 campaign. 
  • Mark Jayden Daniels as just the third ASU quarterback in history to win two bowl games.
  • Would move ASU’s record to 7-2 against BIG TEN teams in bowl games

RECENT SUCCESS

  • ASU has produced three straight seven-win seasons over a full season, notable as ASU has just 21 of those since joining the Pac-12 in 1978. Two of those were eight-win seasons, where ASU has posted just 15 8+ wins since 1978 (11/1, 10/5, 9/4, 8/5, 7/6).
  • The Sun Devils have back-to-back eight-win seasons in its last two non-COVID years, one of just 29 FBS teams to accomplish the feat.
  • ASU was one of just 21 Power Five teams to win six conference games this year, doing so for just the seventh time since joining the Pac-12.
  • ASU has won two or more road games in each of the last four years. It is the first time since 2004-07 that the Sun Devils have accomplished the feat in four consecutive seasons. 
  • ASU defeated both UCLA and USC in the same season for the second time in four years under Herm Edwards, notable as the feat was accomplished just four times, PERIOD, since joining the Pac-12.
  • The Sun Devils have won five straight over rival Arizona, the longest streak for either team since the UA won five in a row from 1982-86. It is the longest streak for ASU since winning nine straight from 1965-73. 

MILESTONE WATCH

  • 134 passing yards by Jayden Daniels to reach 6,000 in his career (Currently at 5,866)
  • 117 rushing yards by Jayden Daniels to surpass Taylor Kelly’s school rushing record for a quarterback (Kelly sits at 1,404 to Daniels’ 1288).

#10THINGS (Twitter-Friendly Notes)

1. There are 41 FBS linebackers with 2,000+ snaps since 2018 and Merlin Robertson (2,434) is 2nd among those with just 24 total missed tackles – one more than USF’s Dwayne Boyles who has over 300 fewer snaps (2,121).

2. ASU has held opponents to less than 30 points in 29 of 42 games under Herm Edwards, notable as it DID allow 30+ in 32 of 43 previous games dating back in a span from 2013-17. 

3. ASU allowed just 21 sacks this year (36th in FBS), notable as outside 2018 (12th), ASU finished outside the Top-100 in the category seven times and has been in the Top-75 since at least 2005. 

4. ASU has rushed for 100 or more yards in 16-straight games – its longest streak since a 21-game span between 1995 and 1996. 

5. ASU has converted 85.7 percent of its opportunities (24-of-28) with one or two yards to go on third down – third-best in the FBS.

6. Ten times this season has ASU held opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards (6) AND/OR fewer than 100 passing yards (3) – the most instances since doing so 9 times in 1996 (5 and 4, respectively). 

7.  ASU has held opponents to 400 yards or less in 24 of 42 games under Edwards. It accomplished that just 24 of the previous 65 games dating back to 2013.

8. D.J. Davison made 31 “stops” on run defense this year – good for second among all FBS interior linemen (and just one off the FBS lead).

9. ASU leads the nation in allowing just three plays over 40 yards this season and are the only team not to allow a 50-yard play on the year. ASU’s 14 straight games without a 50-yard play allowed are the longest in the FBS.

10. Opponents have an NFL QBR rating of just 73.4 this season against the ASU defense, the eighth-lowest total in the FBS.


BY THE NUMBERS

60 – ASU has forced 60 offensive turnovers overall since 2019, 15th among all FBS teams despite playing significantly fewer games than most schools in 2020. ASU has outscored opponents 844-444 in points off takeaways since 2012.  Since 2012, ASU has scored 63.5 percent of the time following an opponent turnover (141 of 222) while finding the end zone 105 times in that span (47.3 percent). With three this year, ASU has 21 interception returns for touchdowns since the 2012 campaign – a tally tied for first in the Pac-12 (Utah) and fifth in the FBS in that time span. 

50 – ASU has allowed just seven plays over 50 yards to opponents since the 2018 season over 42 games. The .17 50+ yard plays per game allowed are second-fewest in the FBS in that time behind only Washington (.12 per game on 5 plays over 43 games). ASU ranked in the bottom 10 nationally in 50+ yards played allowed each year from 2014-17. The last 50-yard play allowed was a rush by UCLA’s Britain Brown in 2020, giving ASU a streak of 14 straight games without a 50-yard play allowed – the longest active streak in the FBS. ASU has gone 16 games without a 50-yard passing play allowed.

49 – Despite playing significantly fewer games than the teams ahead of it, ASU’s 49 rushing touchdowns since the beginning of 2020 are 21st among all FBS teams. ASU has accomplished the feat in 16 games, where none of the 20 teams ranked ahead of ASU have fewer than 23 games over the last two years. Arizona State’s 33 rushing touchdowns this were 8th in the regular season and the most it has had since 2013 (36). ASU has rushed for at least 100 yards as a team in 16 straight games – the longest streak since the last 10 games of 1995 and the first 11 of 1996 – a 21-game stretch over two seasons.

29 – ASU has held opponents to less than 30 points in 29 of 41 games under Herm Edwards, notable as it DID allow 30+ in 32 of 43 previous games dating back in a span from 2013-17. ASU is currently 25th in the FBS and second in the Pac-12 in allowing just 20.9 points per game. Last season, ASU was first in the Pac-12 in allowing just 23.2 points per game (32nd nationally). In 2019, ASU was 35th (22.4 ppg). The Sun Devils allowed just 25.5 ppg in 2018, good for 53rd nationally. These totals are notable as ASU was 103rd nationally at 32.8 points per game allowed in 2017 and had finished 99th or worse in three consecutive seasons prior.

21 – ASU allowed just 21 sacks this year, tied for 36th-fewest in the FBS and notable as – outside of 2018 (12th in FBS with only 16 allowed) and excluding the shortened 2020 season – ASU finished outside the Top-100 seven times (2012-17, 2019)  in the last decade and have not been in the Top 75 in any season since AT LEAST 2005 (when the NCAA sacks allowed records start becoming more difficult to locate).All told, the ASU offensive linemen alone allowed just 65 quarterback pressures this year – 10 fewer than any other Pac-12 school and 17th-fewest in the FBS. As a team, only 30 pressures this season have come unblocked, good for the 16th-lowest total in the FBS.

9 – ASU now has nine occurrences this season in which it has held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing AND/OR less than 100 yards passing (6 games under 100 yards rushing/3 games under 100 yards passing). The nine total sub-100 stat lines in one category or the other are the most since 1996 (also 9 – 5 games under 100 yards rushing, 4 under 100 yard passing).  The three games holding opponents under 100 passing yards marks the first time that has happened since doing it thrice in 1996. 


RUSH HOUR

  • Despite playing significantly fewer games than the teams ahead of it, ASU’s 49 rushing touchdowns since the beginning of 2020 are 21st among all FBS teams. ASU has accomplished the feat in 16 games, where none of the 20 teams ranked ahead of ASU have fewer than 23 games over the last two years. 
  • Arizona State’s 33 rushing touchdowns this season are the most it has had since 2013 (36). If the team gets to 37, it would be the most by a Sun Devil team since 41 in 1973.
  • The 33 touchdowns were eighth most in the FBS in the regular season
  • ASU has rushed for at least 100 yards as a team in 16 straight games. It is the longest streak of rushing for over 100 yards as a team since the last 10 games of 1995 and the first 11 of 1996 – a 21-game stretch over two seasons.
  • As a team, ASU has been stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage just 6.2 percent of the time – ninth-lowest among Power Five schools. The team picked up a first down or touchdown on 32.2 percent of its rushes – good for 9th in the Power Five.
  • The team had 89 explosive runs (runs over 10 yards) – 10th in the Power Five. 
  • ASU had 10-straight games dating back to 2020 with over 150 rushing yards before that streak was ended against Utah, where the team finished two yards shy at 148. It was the longest such streak since a 12-game run over 150 yards over the final nine games of 1975 and first three of 1976.
  • ASU has gone over the 200-yard mark on the ground in 10 of its last 18 games dating back to 2019. ASU has gone over 250 yards rushing in 7 of the last 15 games. In the Herm Edwards era,  ASU has rushed for 200 or more yards 15 times and 250+ yards 12 times.
  • ASU finished the regular season 24th nationally with 202.3 yards per game.

DANNNGGGGG DANIELS

  • Was the third-highest graded quarterback in the Pac-12 this season overall (82.7) and Top-40 among all quarterbacks in the FBS
  • Jayden Daniels’ 66.4 completion percentage is 26th in the FBS and was tops in the Pac-12 this season. His adjusted completion percentage (accounting for dropped passes) is 76.1 – good for 21st in the FBS.
  • Daniels has an NFL passer rating of 108.5 in the fourth quarter of games, 11th-highest among FBS quarterbacks since 2019 (min. 100 attempts). 
  • Since 2019, Daniels is sixth in the FBS in yards per pass attempt with 11+ yards to go (min. 50 attempts) at 10.9 ypa. He has seven touchdown passes with 11+ yards to go, tied for third in the FBS since 2019 while his 1,175 yards on third and very long since 2019 are seventh in the FBS
  • His NFL passer rating with over 11+ yards to go since 2019 is 119.9, good for third in the nation since 2019. He has thrown just one pick with 11+ to go, tied for 10th-fewest in the FBS since 2019.
  • Out of over 100 quarterbacks with at least 400 passing attempts since 2019, Jayden Daniels ranks tied for 29th in fewest interceptions with just 12 on 702 attempts (1.7 percent of his throws). 
  • He has the 36th-highest NFL QBR in that time at 96.9 (min. 400 attempts) and has accounted for a “turnover-worthy” play just 2.1 percent of the time, tied for sixth-lowest in the FBS in the span.
  • Since 2019, Daniels is 10th among FBS quarterbacks in yards per attempt on third down at 8.4 (1,465 yards on 175 attempts).
  • Among the 104 FBS quarterbacks with at least 100 third-down attempts since 2019, Daniels is 34th  with an NFL QBR of 90.3

JAY WALKING

  • As a rusher, Jayden Daniels has a grade of 83.2, good for second among quarterbacks in the league and 11th overall. He is the 8th-highest graded quarterback as a rusher this season in the FBS.
  • Daniels has forced 36 missed tackles this season, 5th among FBS QBs. 
  • His 851 rushing yards before sacks (including nullified plays) are 6th among FBS quarterbacks.
  • He has 666 yards after contact, good for 5th among FBS quarterbacks.
  • He has 36 explosive runs (10+), fourth among FBS quarterbacks and tops of any player in the Pac-12, regardless of position (nullified plays included).
  • Since 2019, Daniels’ 1,546 rushing yards overall (sacks excluded) are 15th among active quarterbacks and among those with at least 100 carries, his 6.3 yards per rush are 19th. 
  • Daniels surpassed the 1,000 career rushing yard mark against Washington State and now sits at 1,248. The school record in quarterback career rushing yards in 1,404 by Taylor Kelly.
  • Daniels rushed for 125 yards against UNLV, his second career 100+ yard game and the fourth-most by a quarterback in program history (he also holds the fifth-best tally with 111 at USC last year).
  • When rushing on third down, Daniels has picked up a first down or touchdown with his feet 56.3 percent of the time (min. 50 rushes) – 8th among FBS quarterbacks since 2019.
  • His 8.0 yards per carry when rushing on third down are sixth among FBS quarterbacks since 2019. He has 23 explosive third down runs (runs of 10+ yards), good for third among FBS quarterbacks since 2019

TAKING OFFENSE

  • Against FBS opponents in non-garbage time, ASU has a +1.09 yards per play advantage between its offensive yards gained per play and defensive yards allowed per play. The net positive is 20th-highest in the nation. 
  • ASU’s offense is averaging 6.30 yards per play on the season (against FBS opponents in non-garbage time) – good for 34th in the FBS. 
  • Against FBS opponents, the Sun Devils pick up at least four yards per play on 61.3 percent of plays (18th in the FBS) and gained at least seven yards on 35.8 percent of plays (20th in the FBS).
  • ASU’s offense has earned 53.2 percent of the total yards available this season – the 33rd-best tally in the FBS. 
  • According to CFB-Graphs.com, ASU’s Expected Points Added (EPA) per offensive play average is .158 – good for 14th in the FBS. ASU’s .234 EPA on rushing plays are second in the country. The analytic site credits ASU’s offense with a positive play 49.0 percent of the time – the fifth-best ratio in the nation.
  • ASU is 18th in the nation in averaging 9.4 points per fourth quarter against FBS teams.
  • ASU earned at least one first down on 80.2 percent of its drives this season against FBS teams in non-garbage time – good for 9th in the FBS.
  • The team has had a drive earn zero or negative yards just 5.7 percent of the time, the sixth-lowest total in the nation.

THIRD TIMES THE CHARM

  • ASU has a third-down conversion rate of 44.0 against FBS opponents, good for 29th in the country.
  • With Southern Utah included, ASU’s third-down conversion rate still sits at 43.8 percent – still good for 31st in the FBS.
  • This has been a marked improvement for the Sun Devils over the past decade-plus. ASU was also 21st in the shortened season last year (46.67). 
  • For perspective, ASU finished in the Top-25 in third-down conversions just once from 2009-2019 (23rd in 2017).  It finished 47th or worse in every other year in that span at 75th or worse in six of those.
  • The team is especially deadly on third-and-short, converting 85.7 percent of its opportunities (24-of-28) with one or two yards to go on third down – third in the FBS.

A HAND IN THE COOKIE JAR

  • ASU has forced 60 offensive turnovers overall since 2019, 15th among all FBS teams despite playing significantly fewer games than most schools in 2020.
  • ASU has outscored opponents 844-444 in points off takeaways since 2012. 
  • Since 2012, ASU has scored 63.5 percent of the time following an opponent turnover (141 of 222) while finding the end zone 105 times in that span (47.3 percent).
  • Conversely, opponents have scored just 48.1 percent of the time following an ASU turnover since 2012 (75 of 156) with 57 touchdowns (36.5 percent).
  • With three this year, ASU has 21 interception returns for touchdowns since the 2012 campaign – a tally tied for first in the Pac-12 (Utah) and fifth in the FBS in that time span. 
  • A couple streaks that likely will come to an end without some turnaround in the final games: ASU turned the ball over five times last year, seventh nationally. The Devils turned the ball over just 14 times in 2019 – the 20th-lowest total in the FBS. ASU was one of just three teams to rank in the Top-25 in fewest interceptions thrown in each of the last three seasons (since 2018), alongside triple-option offenses from Air Force and Navy.  The Devils were tops in the country in turnover margin last season at 2.00. ASU was 6th nationally in turnover margin in 2019 (1.08).  ASU (11th in 2018) is one of just two teams nationally to rank in the Top-25 in turnover margin in each of the past three seasons (Georgia Southern) and only ASU was in the top-15 in each of those seasons.

GETTING DEFENSIVE

  • ASU was the final team in country to not allow an opponent play over 40 yards this year, a streak that came to a close against Washington State.  Still, ASU’s three total 40-yard plays were tied with Washington for fewest allowed in the FBS this season.
  • The team has the second-fewest 30+ yard plays allowed with just 12.
  • ASU is only team in the FBS to not allow a 50-yard play on the year.
  • ASU extended its streak to 14 games without allowing a 50-yard play, the longest active streak in the FBS.
  • The Sun Devils are 18th in the FBS and second in the league in allowing just 328.7 yards of offense per game. 
  • ASU now has nine occurrences this season in which it has held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing AND/OR less than 100 yards passing (6 games under 100 yards rushing/3 games under 100 yards passing). The nine total sub-100 stat lines in one category or the other are the most since 1996 (also 9 – 5 games under 100 yards rushing, 4 under 100 yard passing). 
  • The three games holding opponents under 100 passing yards marks the first time that has happened since doing it thrice in 1996. 
  • In non-garbage time against FBS opponents, ASU is allowing just 5.21 yards per play this season, good for 24th in the country.
  • In non-garbage time against FBS opponents, teams gain 7 or more yards on a play just 18.1 percent of the time (12th-lowest in the FBS) and 10 or more yards just 8.6 percent of the time (17th in the FBS).
  • ASU has held opponents to 400 yards or less in 10 of 12 games this season. Under Herm Edwards, ASU has held opponents to the 400 or less mark for total offensive yards on 24 occasions over 42 games (57.1 percent of the time). For comparison, ASU accomplished the feat just 24 times in the 65 previous games (36.9 percent) from 2013-2017.
  • ASU has allowed just seven plays over 50 yards to opponents since the 2018 season over 42 games. The .17 50+ yard plays per game allowed are second-fewest in the FBS in that time behind only Washington (.12 per game on 5 plays over 43 games). ASU ranked in the bottom 10 nationally in 50+ yards played allowed each year from 2014-17.
  • The last time ASU gave up a 50-yard play was a rush by UCLA’s Britain Brown in 2020, giving ASU a streak of 14 straight games without a 50-yard play allowed. It last gave up a 50-yard passing play in the 2019 Sun Bowl against Florida State, marking 16 straight games without a passing play over 50 yards.
  • ASU is one of just seven teams in the country to rank in the Top-35 in fewest plays over 30 yards allowed in EACH of the last three seasons (Cal, Washington, Utah, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern). The team is currently fourth in the category (12).
  • Since 2018, ASU has allowed just 55 TOTAL 30-plus yard plays (1.3 per game/42 games)). For perspective, from 2014-17, ASU gave up 38, 44, 40, 40 such plays, respectively ranked 116th, 124th, 117th and 119th. ASU has given up just nine this season – good for second in the FBS.

KEEP ‘EM OFF THE BOARD

  • Currently, ASU is 23rd in the FBS and second in the Pac-12 in allowing just 20.9 points per game. 
  • With second-half shutouts over UNLV and UCLA, this is the first time ASU has held two opponents without a second-half point in a season since 2012 (Utah/Colorado).
  • ASU is fifth in the FBS in allowing just 7.7 second-half points per game against its FBS opponents. ASU is outscoring teams 185-92 in the second half of games this year and 110-42 in the fourth quarter. 
  • Since 2019, ASU has allowed an opponent scoring drive just 108 times on 348 drives, a 31.0 score percentage that is the 32nd-lowest in the FBS.
  • Since 2019, ASU has held opponents to a 26.0 scoring drive percentage in the second half of games (46 of 177) – the 13th-lowest in the FBS.
  • The Sun Devils have allowed just 118 offensive touchdowns (2.8 per game/42 games) since Herm Edwards assumed the reins in 2018 – among the Top-25-fewest among FBS programs. For reference, ASU gave up 109 offensive touchdowns alone between 2016 and 2017 (4.4 per game/25 games).
  • ASU has allowed just 52 second-half touchdowns to opponents since 2018 – 9th fewest in the FBS. 
  • ASU has held opponents to less than 30 points in 29 of 42 games under Herm Edwards, notable as it DID allow 30+ in 32 of 43 previous games dating back to a span from 2013-17.
  • ASU is currently 25th in the FBS and tops in the Pac-12 in allowing just 20.9 points per game. Last season, ASU was first in the Pac-12 in allowing just 23.2 points per game (32nd nationally). In 2019, ASU was 35th in the country, allowing 22.4 points per game. The Sun Devils allowed just 25.5 points per game in 2018, good for 53rd nationally. These totals are notable as ASU was 103rd nationally at 32.8 points per game allowed in 2017 and had finished 99th or worse in three consecutive seasons prior.

NO FLY ZONE

  • ASU has recorded multiple interceptions five times this season and 12 times in the Herm Edwards era.
  • ASU is tied for 10th in the FBS this season with 15 interceptions. 
  • The Sun Devils have emphasized “cat” coverage this season – man coverage where its players are simply asked to guard their “cat”. The Sun Devils have been lock down with there being an open target allowed just 44.8 percent of the time – the 21st-lowest tally in the FBS.
  • Other teams earned a first down or touchdown through the air just 34.6 percent of the time against ASU – 21st in the FBS.
  • Opponents have an NFL quarterback rating of just 73.4 this season – 8th-lowest in the FBS.
  • ASU is 26th in the nation in allowing just 199.7 passing yards per game.
  • Three times this season, ASU has held an opponent under 100 passing yards – the most in a season since 1996. 
  • ASU’s coverage has a forced incompletion rate of 10.5 percent – 19th in the FBS.
  • Since 2020, ASU has allowed an explosive passing play (15+ yards) just 12.3 percent of the time (80 on 652 attempts) – good for 23rd in the FBS.
  • Since Herm Edwards‘ arrival in 2018, the Sun Devil secondary has allowed just 18 total passing plays over 40 yards. For perspective, it had 12 alone in 2017, 22 in 2016 and 24 in 2015 – the latter two ranked second to last and last, respectively, in the nation.
  • With Colorado throwing for just 67 total passing yards, it was the second time this season ASU has held two opponents under 100 yards in the category (UNLV, 67). The last time ASU accomplished that twice in a season was 2012, though that includes a triple option offense in Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. It is the first time it has done so without a triple option offense in the schedule since 2006 (@Colorado, 86/Stanford, 66).
  • Prior to Stanford, ASU had held its first five opponents this season under 250 passing yards, extending its streak in that category to eight straight games dating back to last season. That was the longest streak since ASU had an 11-game stretch across the 1991 and 1992 seasons. In total, ASU has held 10 of 12 opponents under 250 passing yards this year.
  • DeAndre Pierce was the seventh-highest graded safety in the Pac-12 (68.6) and the ninth-highest graded safety in coverage (68.4)
  • He was tied for third on the team with 58 tackles, adding two interceptions – one for a touchdown.
  • Pierce was targeted the sixth-lowest rate (8.1 percent on 422 coverage snaps) out of Pac-12 safeties with at least 300 coverage snaps. Opponents completed just 38.2 percent of their passes when targeting Pierce, easily the lowest tally of any Pac-12 safety and fourth-lowest of all safeties in the FBS (min. 300 coverage snaps)
  • Pierce Allowed just 147 yards in coverage on the year – 22nd-lowest among FBS safeties (min. 300 coverage snaps) and opponent quarterbacks had a paltry 47.1 NFL QB rating when targeting Pierce – second among Pac-12 safeties and 11th among FBS safeties (min. 300 coverage snaps).
  • He was the only member of the Sun Devil secondary to appear in all 12 games and one of just two defensive players to start all 12 games.
  • Chase Lucas was a Pac-12 All-Conference honoree for the third time in his career and will finish second in ASU history with 49 career starts and behind Dexter Davis’ school record of 50.
  • Lucas is tied for 13th among active FBS players with 34 career passes defended.
  • Lucas was targeted the most of all Pac-12 corners with at least 250 snaps in coverage at 20.0 percent but was one of just four of those corners to not allow a touchdown on the year. He Forced an incompletion on 11.9 percent of the targets thrown his way, seventh among Pac-12 corners
  • Jack Jones was ASU’s highest graded defender this season with a score of 79.4 overall, good for 15th among all Pac-12 defenders regardless of position (min. 400 snaps). It was the fourth-highest grade among all Pac-12 corners and 33rd among all FBS corners. Recorded a grade of 78.8 in coverage on the year, fourth among Pac-12 corners and ninth among all Pac-12 players and 33rd among all FBS corners.
  • Jones Tied for the team lead with three interceptions (also tied for first among Pac-12 corners) – including him game-sealing 87-yard pick six against rival Arizona. Also added a team-high six pass breakups on the season while forcing a team-high three fumbles.
  • Jones forced an incompletion on 12.5 percent of the targets thrown his way, good for 8th among all Pac-12 corners and allowed an open target percentage of just 33.9 percent of the time – seventh-lowest among Pac-12 corners.
  • Jones recorded eight “stops” on run defense, tied for fourth among Pac-12 corners while his four tackles for loss or no gain were tied for third.

IN THE TRENCHES

  • Dohnovan West allowed just five quarterback pressures this season, tied for third among all FBS centers (min. 300 pass block snaps). West was one of just two Pac-12 centers to rank in the Top-6 in the Pac-12 in overall offense, pass blocking and run blocking grades on the season (USC’s Brett Neilon).
  • Kellen Diesch was the ninth-highest graded overall offensive player in the Pac-12, regardless of position (86.4), and the second-highest graded tackle in the league; Third-highest graded player in the league as a pass blocker (88.2) and second among tackles; 12th-highest graded player in league on run blocking (84.1) and fifth among tackles.  He was the 22nd-highest graded offensive lineman in the FBS overall and 14th among all FBS tackles; The eighth-highest graded offensive lineman in the FBS as a pass blocker and Top-50 among all FBS linemen as a run blocker
  • Out of 180 FBS tackles with at least 350 snaps in pass protection, Diesch gave up the fourth-fewest quarterback pressures in the nation (7) and the fewest in the Pac-12.
  • Among FBS tackles with at least 350 snap as a run blocker, Diesch received a positive grade on 17.6 percent of his snaps – 12th-most in the FBS. Diesch played 741 of ASU 753 total snaps this season.
  • LaDarius Henderson was the 11th-highest graded guard overall on offense in the Pac-12 (71.3). He Allowed just 10 quarterback pressures on the season- tied for fourth-fewest among Pac-12 offensive guards and among the Top 50 fewest among all guards in the FBS and was tied for 38th among FBS guards with just one sack allowed on the year
  • Only six of ASU’s sacks allowed this season has been credited solely to the offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus – the 10th-lowest tally in the FBS.
  • All told, the ASU offensive linemen alone allowed just 65 quarterback pressures this year – 10 fewer than any other Pac-12 school and 17th-fewest in the FBS.
  • As a team, only 30 pressures this season have come unblocked, good for the 16th-lowest total in the FBS.
  • ASU has allowed a pressure on just 26.8 percent of quarterback dropbacks this year as a team, the 21st-lowest total in the FBS.
  • ASU quarterbacks have been knocked down just 26 times this season – 10th-lowest in the FBS.
  • The team has a 74.7 overall score as a pass blocking unit, 22nd in the nation.
  • ASU allowed just 21 sacks this year, tied for 36th-fewest in the FBS and notable as – outside of 2018 (12th in FBS with only 16 allowed) and excluding the shortened 2020 season – ASU finished outside the Top-100 seven times (2012-17, 2019)  in the last decade and have not been in the Top 75 in any season since AT LEAST 2005 (when the NCAA sacks allowed records start becoming more difficult to locate).

HOLD THE LINE

  • Since the start of last season, the Sun Devil defensive line (only down linemen and ends) has forced a quarterback pressure on 34.7 percent of opponent passing plays – the 32nd-highest in the FBS in that span. This feat is made more impressive considering ASU has blitzed just 22.9 percent of snaps in that time – 18th-lowest nationally.
  • D.J. Davidson was the 20th-highest graded defender overall in the Pac-12 (76.0), regardless of position, and the third-highest graded defensive interior lineman in the league; 15th-highest graded defender in league on run defense (77.7) and tops among interior linemen. He was the 21st-highest grade defensive interior lineman in the FBS on run defense and 31st-highest graded interior lineman in the FBS on overall defense
  • Davidson recorded 31 defensive “stops” on run defense this year, good for second in the FBS among interior linemen behind only Cincinnati’s Curtis Brooks (who had the benefit of a conference championship game). 
  • He was fifth on the team with 57 total tackles – just one shy of a tie for third on the team despite playing one of the most difficult position to get tackles. Davidson was credited with 48 tackles on running plays – fourth most of any FBS defensive lineman
  • Davidson was one of just two Sun Devils to start all 12 games on defense. 
  • Tyler Johnson was the seventh-highest graded edge defender in the Pac-12 overall (76.5) and fourth among edge defenders in the league on run defense (79.6). The latter is especially notable as Johnson entered the season with a career run defense grade of 53.6
  • Johnson Had 18 stops on run defense, good for seventh among Pac-12 edge defenders, and led the team with 8.5 tackles for loss, bringing his career total to 29.5 while also posting 15.5 career sacks
  • Johnson was named the Walter Camp National Defender of the Week for his effort against Stanford, as well as the Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week. He finished with five total tackles (four solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks in a dominant effort and was also credited with a key forced fumble. Johnson was the 7th-highest graded defender in Pac-12 overall according to PFF and the 2nd-best among edge defenders (77.8). His 6 QB pressures were the most in the Pac-12 for the week (14th in FBS). Johnson managed to force a pressure on 18.8 percent of his snaps, most in the Pac-12 (18th in FBS).

MIDDLE OF THE LINEUP

  • A fearless and tough leader of the Sun Devil defense earned the respect of coaches around the conference, Darien Butler earned Second Team honors despite missing the final two games and was named a semifinalist for the 2021 Butkus Award, the Butkus foundation announced. Butler is one of 16 candidates for the award given to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker at the FBS level.
  • Butler had 18 tackles for loss OR no gain, second-most in the Pac-12 and tied for 8th  among all FBS linebackers – despite missing the final two games of the year
  • He still finished second on team with 68 tackles despite missing two games while tied for the team lead with 8.5 tackles for loss – the latter of which was tied for ninth in the Pac-12 and tied for third among true linebackers
  • Tied for the team lead with three interceptions on the year – tied for fourth among FBS linebackers along with fellow linebacker Merlin Robertson
  • Butler was among the Top-50 highest graded linebackers overall in the FBS (73.1) – and tied for the third-highest graded one in the Pac-12 – and the sixth-highest graded linebacker in the FBS in coverage (87.7) (second in Pac-12)
  • Butler and Robertson’s three interceptions this season are the most for a linebacker at ASU since Mike Nixon had three in 2009. ASU’s seven interceptions as a linebacker unit this season are tied for the most for any linebacker group in the FBS.
  • ASU’s three linebackers hold the first three spots on the team tackles least this season between Kyle Soelle (82), Butler (68) and Robertson (58) – account for 27.3 of the team’s total tackles this year, despite several combined missed games. 
  • Merlin Robertson was credited with just six missed tackles on the season – the second-fewest among all Pac-12 linebackers and a theme of his career as he had no missed tackles credited last season and only eight as a sophomore in 2019, which was also the second-fewest of all Pac-12 linebackers. 
  • Out of 114 FBS linebackers to play at least 1,500 snaps since 2018 – Robertson has missed just 24 tackles which is tied for the 16th-fewest in that time. Taking it to the next level, there are 41 FBS linebackers with 2,000+ snaps since 2018 and Robertson (2,434) is second among those with his 24 total missed tackles – just one more than USF’s Dwayne Boyles who has over 300 fewer snaps (2,121).
  • Robertson’s 2,434 snaps are the 11th most of all FBS linebackers since 2018.
  • Among Pac-12 linebackers with 400+ snaps, Robertson was the sixth-highest graded one (65.9).
  • Eric Gentry was named a Maxwell Football Club Freshman All-American, one of just 22 freshmen players to earn recognition from the organization.
  • He finished his first regular season with 40 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, and two pass breakups in 12 games. He is one of just three true freshman linebackers in the Pac-12 to play at least 250 snaps. The highlight of the season came on a crucial fourth down stop, when he tackled UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the backfield for a momentum-changing play. 
  • Not only did Gentry produce statistically, he is rated extremely well by Pro Football Focus. Gentry is the second-highest graded true freshman linebacker overall on defense in the FBS. PFF rates him as the second-highest graded true freshman linebacker in coverage in the FBS (76.0). Regardless of year, PFF rates him as the fifth-highest graded Pac-12 linebacker.
  • Gentry was credited with only five missed tackles, tied for 9th among true freshmen FBS linebackers with 250+ snaps. That is tied for fourth-fewest missed tackles of any linebacker in the Pac-12 with 250+ snaps.

KEEP IT TIGHT

  • Curtis Hodges set career single-game highs with four catches twice this season and his 76 receiving yard effort in a win against Stanford
  • He averaged 18.7 yards per catch – good for 20th in the FBS and second in the Pac-12 and second among all FBS tight ends. Hodges had 373 yards for the season in 11 games – notable as he entered the season with just 227 over his career over four seasons and 29 games. His two touchdown receptions this year also matched his career total entering the year
  • Hodges’ 373 receiving yards were fifth-most in the Pac-12 and 32nd among all tight ends in the FBS
  • Hodges recorded a 71.8 grade as a run blocker for the season, second among Pac-12 tight ends and 32nd among FBS tight ends. 
  • Among Pac-12 tight ends with at least 150 snaps played this year, Case Hatch had the highest score in the league as a run blocker at 77.8. That total is good for 17th among all FBS tight ends with at least 150 snaps played. 
  • Hatch played on 183 snaps this year, 150 of which he was assigned as a run blocker. Hatch received a positive grade as a run blocker on 17.3 percent of his snaps this year – the 10th-highest rate in the FBS among tight ends.

THE PRICE IS WHITE

  • One of the conference’s top running backs, Rachaad White earned the second All-Conference honor of his career (2020 Honorable Mention).
  • Reached 1,000 rushing yards for the season with his 98 yards against Arizona, finishing with 1,006.
  • White recorded 30.5 percent of ASU’s total yards on offense this year (1,462 of 4,799) and 35.6 percent of ASU’s total touchdowns (16 of 45).
  • It was the 26th instance of a Sun Devil running back reaching 1,000 yards in a single season and just the 9th one to do it in 11 games or less. 
  • White now has 22 touchdowns in his career (20 rushing, two receiving) in just 15 games played (1.5 per game).
  • White has at least one touchdown in 12 of his 15 games with the Devils.
  • With 15 rushing touchdowns this year, White is now tied for sixth in ASU single-season history and is currently 10th in the FBS this season
  • He has been a workhorse for ASU, third among Pac-12 running backs with 230 touches this season (187 rushing, 43 receiving – including nullified plays) – just seven off the Pac-12 lead despite missing essentially a game and a half and with Oregon’s Travis Dye (237 touches) having an extra game on him. The 230 touches are 23rd among all FBS running backs
  • His 494 total snaps are good for third among Pac-12 running backs trailing only Oregon’s Travis Dye (547 snaps with one extra game in the Pac-12 FCG) and UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet (523) – despite White missing a game. 
  • White is the second-highest graded player, regardless of position, overall in the Pac-12 this season (90.7) and the second-highest graded running back in the FBS.
  • White has rushed for 57 first downs this season, 5th among Pac-12 backs but missing a game and a half. However, he has added 22 first downs as a receiver – seven more than any Pac-12 running back and the most of all FBS running backs.
  • He is also the highest graded running back in the league as a receiver (90.4 – second among all Pac-12 players regardless of position) and 2nd-highest graded in the category nationally among backs. 
  • His 49 targets in the passing game are second among Pac-12 backs despite his missed game (though Travis Dye’s 51 comes with the Pac-12 FCG included) and 8th among running backs nationally. His 43 receptions are more than any other Pac-12 back and 6th among FBS running backs.
  • White has 452 yards after the catch (think catches behind the line of scrimmage) – just 100 more yards than any other Pac-12 back and the 4th-highest tally of any FBS running back this season.
  • White forced 44 missed tackles as a running back – 5th among Pac-12 backs – and 16 as a receiver – third among ALL FBS backs

RUSH-AAD

  • Rachaad White’s 386 rushing yards against USC and Washington were the second-most by an FBS player over a two-week span this season. (Tyler Allgeirer, 457 yards – Week 8, BYU at WSU 32 carries, 191 yards, 2 TDs; Week 9, BYU vs UVA 9 carries, 266 yards, 5 TDs)
  • It was the most yards over a two-game stretch by a Pac-12 running back since J.J. Taylor (Arizona) had 404 rushing yards in games against Oregon and Colorado in 2018 (10/27-11/2).
  • Rachaad White had himself a day with career highs in carries (28) and yards (202) against USC and matching his career best with three touchdowns on the ground. He topped the carries mark with 32 against Washington.
  • The efforts earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week recognition as well as being the Rose Bowl’s National Player of the Week in back-to-back weekends.
  • More on the USC outing: White is one of only 14 running backs in the FBS to rush for over 200 yards against a Power 5 opponent this season. White was the first player to rush for over 200 yards since Eno Benjamin’s school record 312 yards against Oregon State in 2018. It was the 22nd instance of a Sun Devil rushing for over 200 yards in program history and the 16th individual to reach the milestone. The 202 yards were the third-most in the 38 games played in the series between the two teams.It was the first time USC had allowed a 200-yard rusher since UCLA Josh Kelly in 2018 (289). He was the first player to rush for over 100 yards (102) in the first half since Benjamin against USC in 2018. He was also the first ASU player with two rushing touchdowns over 47 yards since Benjamin in that same USC game in 2018.
  • More on the UW outing: His 184 rushing yards were the seventh-best ever by a Sun Devil back in a road Pac-12 game. White recorded all three of ASU’s third-down conversions in the game, all three of which were in the fourth quarter.White also recorded both of ASU’s fourth-down conversions in the game, which also both came in the fourth quarter.
Allegiant Stadium in May 2021. By Tomás Del Coro – https www.flickr.com photos tomasdelcoro, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

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