Archive for: May 2013

6 Reasons Arizona State Football Will Overachieve in 2013

asu line

The Arizona State Sun Devils finished 2012 in grand style.

For the first time in 34 years, the Devils ended the season with three straight wins. Even during the two championship seasons of 1986 and 1996, they suffered a loss down the stretch, to rivals Arizona and Ohio State respectively. Granted, those were their only losses those years and they still sting.

Speaking of the University of Arizona and bowl games, it was also only the second time in the same 34-year stretch that Arizona State won both the Territorial Cup matchupand their bowl game.

The 2012 record of 8-5 was the best since they won their share of the conference in 2007, but were embarrassed by Texas in the Holiday Bowl. That loss preceded four straight losing seasons and a desperate need for a change in Tempe.

The change began with the hiring of head coach Todd Graham in December 2011, and moves into the future with the hiring of Louisiana State’s Director of Player Personnel Sherman Morris to head up recruiting.

The buzz around the 2013 Arizona State Sun Devils football team is nearing a fever pitch and we are still over three months away from opening night on September 5.

Here are the reasons why the Sun Devils will overachieve this season.

Defense, Defense, Defense

Defensive lineman Will Sutton became ASU’s sixth winner of the Morris Trophy and the 18th consensus All-American. Sutton also became the fifth player to win the Pac-10/12 Conference Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award.

Sutton Bradford

Carl Bradford & Will Sutton

Sutton notched at least one tackle for loss in every game he played last season and totaled 23.5 tackles for loss. He finished with a team-leading 13 sacks and 63 total tackles. He was also ranked second in the nation with 1.92 TFL per game and third in the nation with 1.08 sacks per game which led the Pac-12 in both categories.

Devilbacker Carl Bradford finished the year with 81 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. His three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries were tied for the team lead. Bradford’s 1.58 tackles for loss per game was good for 11th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 behind Sutton. Bradford was one of just five FBS players last season to total 80+ tackles, 20+ TFLs AND 10+ sacks on the year.

Bradford and Sutton became just the first duo in Sun Devil history to post double digits in sacks in the same season since 1994. There were 51 FBS teams that finished with fewer sacks than Sutton and Bradford (24.5). Together with Brandon Magee, Davon Coleman and Chris Young, the defense posted five double-digit tackle for loss earners in the same season for just the second time in school history.

The 117 tackles for a loss of 497 total yards—a 9.00 TFL per game mark led the nation and the 4.00 sacks per game finished just behind Stanford (4.07) for second in the nation.

Taylor Kelly Keeps Improving

Heading into the 2012 season, coach Todd Graham wasn’t completely sold on Taylor Kelly as his quarterback. Heading into the 2013 season, he will be the first quarterback to start consecutive seasons since 2008. He finished the season with a school record 67.1 completion percentage (241-of-359). Kelly finished just shy of tying Andrew Walter’s school record of 30 touchdown passes with 29, all  while backup quarterback Michael Eubank was getting playing time in every game. Imagine the damage he would’ve done if he played every down.

Kelly finished second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency at 159.88, which was good enough for ninth in the nation. His 3,039 passing yards were supplemented by his 516 net rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. His average of 39.7 rushing yards per game placed him third on the team. If you take away his sacks, Kelly would have led the team in yardage and yards per carry with 690 gross rushing yards and 6.7 yards per carry. He had eight carries of 20 or more yards and accounted for 37 first downs on the ground, both of which led the team.

“I just kept improving myself throughout the weeks, studying film and continuing to grow that way,” Kelly said. “I started to get more comfortable after the Missouri game, the first road game. The game then started slowing down for me.”

Double Trouble out of the Backfield


Taylor Kelly & Marion Grice

Marion Grice proved to be one of the top junior college additions in the country last year after leading the team with 19 touchdowns (11 rushing, eight receiving) on the season. His eight receiving touchdowns led the nation for receiving touchdowns by a running back and he finished tied for 14th in the country in total touchdowns. He finished the year with four three-touchdown games and posted a league-leading percentage in touchdowns-per-touch at 13.2 percent. In other words, he scored a touchdown every 7.5 times he touched the ball, with 19 touchdowns off of 144 touches.

Freshman All-American selection D.J. Foster was one of just six true freshmen to start in their first opportunity to begin the 2012 season. He finished with 493 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to go along with his 37 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns. He ranks second all-time behind Zach Miller for receptions and receiving yards by a freshman—as a running back.

Grice and Foster finished first and second on the team in all-purpose yards with 1104 and 1026 yards respectively. They are two of only five returning members of the exclusive “400 Club,” rushing and receiving 400-plus yards on the season.

Multiple Receiving Targets for Taylor Kelly

Along with the aforementioned running backs, there is a litany of others waiting on the other end for quarterback Taylor Kelly, beginning with returning senior H-back/tight end Chris Coyle, and ending with an entirely new wide receiving corps that signed letters of intent earlier this year. Coyle set the school record for single season tight end receptions with 57 and with five touchdown receptions, Coyle finished tied for second in single season TD receptions for a tight end, and third in the nation in tight end receptions per game with 4.38. His 57 receptions and 696 receiving yards led all Sun Devils.

He will not be all alone in 2013, as returning sophomore Rick Smith had a solid true freshman season, besting NFL players Gerell Robinson, Kerry Taylor, Kyle Williams and Derek Hagan in receptions and touchdowns. Redshirt senior Kevin Ozier also returns to the starting lineup. Ozier finished the 2012 season second on the team in yards per catch (15.4) and tied for third with Coyle for touchdown receptions with five.

Coach Graham noticed that true wide receivers weren’t lighting up the stat sheet and went on a mission to remedy that issue. Graham stated in his national signing day press conference that his “number one offensive goal was dynamic players at wide receiver.”

He signed three freshmen and three junior college transfers. Redshirt sophomore Jaelen Strong and junior Joseph Morris come to the Sun Devils from Pierce Community College. Strong is rated as a 4-star prospect, the No. 6 junior college wide receiver and the No. 15 overall prospect by ESPN. Morris is rated by ESPN as the country’s No. 16 junior college wide receiver prospect and the No. 61 prospect overall.

Freshman Ronald Lewis is the No. 127 wide receiver prospect, according to ESPN, and Cameron Smith is rated as the No. 123 wide receiver prospect by and Ellis Jefferson is ranked No. 136 by ESPN.

Offensive Line Will Offer Kelly Great Protection

asu o-line

The offensive line for the Sun Devils are going to offer up a new level of protection for quarterback Taylor Kelly and open up running lanes for Marion Grice and D.J. Foster.

Center Kody Koebensky was recently named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List. The Rimington Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I football, and the watch list consists of 44 players, including five from the Pac-12. Koebensky started all 13 games last season at center and helped pave the way for the Sun Devils’ rushing attack in 2012 that averaged 205.5 yards per game, the second-best mark in the past 25 seasons.

Redshirt senior Evan Finkenberg returns for his final season, anchoring the offensive line at the left tackle position and protecting the blind side of Taylor Kelly. He was named the 2012 Randall McDaniel Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award at the annual team banquet. He and right tackle Jamil Douglas were honored with making the 2012 All-Pac-12 Team Honorable Mention Award.

Veterans Sil Ajawara and Vi Teofilo round out the offensive line while the fate of Auburn transfer Christian Westerman hangs in the balance. Out of high school, Westerman was the No. 3 offensive tackle in the nation, the No. 1 recruit from Arizona and the No. 26 player overall nationally by 247Sports.

If the Tigers are sanctioned before the start of the season, Westerman would have the chance to play immediately in the fall.

Secondary Will Thrive Once Again

The secondary has returning two members of Phil Steele’s Preseason All-Pac-12 Team in cornerback Osahon Irabor and safety Alden Darby. Irabor led the team with 14 passes defended and finished with 37 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.

Alden Darby was recently selected to the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List. The trophy is awarded for those that excel in the classroom, on the field and in the community. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity, and is awarded to those who have a positive influence both on and off the field. An All-Pac-12 Second Team selection, Darby nabbed three interceptions last year, including one that he returned for a 70-yard touchdown. Darby also added 80 tackles, including eight in the team’s Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win over Navy.

All members of Phil Steele’s Preseason All-Pac-12 Team are listed below:

  • Will Sutton, first team, defensive line
  • Chris Coyle, second team, tight end
  • Carl Bradford, second team, linebacker
  • Osahon Irabor, third team, cornerback
  • Alden Darby, third team, safety
  • Evan Finkenberg, third team, offensive tackle
  • Marion Grice, third team, running back
  • Taylor Kelly, fourth team, quarterback
  • Jaxon Hood, fourth team, defensive line
  • Davon Coleman, fourth team, defensive line

5 Bold Predictions for Arizona State Basketball’s Incoming Players


The 2013-14 Arizona State basketball team is taking shape.

After starting 13-2 to begin the 2012-13 season, the Sun Devils surprised everybody except the coaching staff. Head coach Herb Sendek, owner of one of the hottest seats in college basketball to begin the season, proved that his squad was much improved and deserving of national recognition.

With stellar play from redshirt freshman Jahii Carson and a vastly improved Carrick Felix, the Sun Devils were a lock for the NCAA tournament after beating UCLA by 18 and sweeping Colorado. Unfortunately for Sendek and the Devils, they fell apart down the stretch. They finished 3-7 in their final 10 games and blew a 15-point lead to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament.

What lies ahead for Arizona State in the 2013-14 season after the graduation of Felix, backup point guard Chris Colvin and backup center Ruslan Pateev?

The good news is that Carson is returning.

Here are five bold predictions about the incoming class.

Sai Tummala Will Garner All-Pac-12 Honors

Sai Tummala

Position: Forward

High School: Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix, Ariz.

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 215

The big forward from Phoenix was recruited to the University of Michigan out of high school and spent his redshirt season with the Wolverines before transferring to Salt Lake Community College. He led the SLCC Bruins to a 29-5 record—averaging 14.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Let the comparisons to Carrick Felix begin. Felix, a junior college transfer from Southern Idaho has approximately the same size and build as Tummala.

Under the tutelage of newly appointed associate head coach Eric Musselman, Tummala will elevate to the upper echelon of Pac-12 players. He is a beast under the boards and shoots over 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Remember the name, Sai Tummala.

Brandan Kearney Will Shine in the Desert

Position: Shooting Guard

High School: Southeastern H.S., Detroit, Mich.

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 190

With the departure of shooting guard Evan Gordon and graduation of Chris Colvin, the position is wide open for Kearney to shine.

In the backcourt with Jahii Carson, this duo has the opportunity to be one of the best in the conference. Kearney will be eligible to play in January of 2014 as he elected to transfer from Michigan State in January of 2013.

Kearney saw his minutes double from his freshman to shortened sophomore season, averaging 16.9 minutes. He averaged a mere 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in the always tough Big Ten conference.

Chance Murray Will Overtake Bo Barnes for Backup Guard Spot

Position: Shooting Guard

High School: Frederick Price H.S. Los Angeles, Calif.

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 180


The Sun Devils are seeing a near-complete overhaul of their backcourt. The only constants being superstar Jahii Carson running the point and rarely used backup Bo Barnes. Barnes transferred from the University of Hawaii and looked to make an impact last year—yet averaged only 4.1 minutes per game.

Perhaps it was his 17 percent shooting (4-of-23) and 4-of-17 from long range that kept him on the bench. The alleged sharpshooter proved to be not so sharp after all missing all two-point shots that he took—every one.

Barnes saw time in 28 minutes but failed to impress. He will have a tough battle against incoming freshman Chance Murray.

Murray, the 3-star recruit as ranked by Scout, Rivals and 247Sports is also ranked No. 160 in the 247Sports Top 247. 247Sports ranks Murray as the No. 42 shooting guard in the country and the No. 14 recruit coming out of talent-rich California.

Murray had offers from competing Pac-12 schools in Stanford and Washington State but chose Arizona State last September.

“I see myself fitting in well [at Arizona State],” Murray said. “Playing the two wing positions and some of the point. [I’m] just going in to do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

Egor Koulechov Will Get Good Minutes from the Bench

Position: Small Forward

High School: The Sagemont School in Weston, Florida

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 190

The forward/wing position is a popular position on the 2013-14 roster. With the addition of transfer students Sai Tummala and Richie Edwards from Valparaiso, Koulechov will fight for minutes—any minutes.

Returning forward Jonathan Gilling started every game last year and has a lock on the spot coming into his junior year.

Koulechov will see minutes at the forward/wing position off the bench and has long-range accuracy that will fill in nicely when the starters need to catch their breath.

He was named to the All-County first team in high school as well as the “Broward County Fab Five.” He is ranked by MaxPreps as the No. 16 recruit in Florida and 247Sports ranks him at No. 20.

He played for Israel’s U-18 basketball team last summer—averaging 19.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Richie Edwards Will Be a Dominant Defensive Force

richie edwards

Position: Power Forward

High School: Lakeland High School, Lakeland, Flaorida

Height: 6’7″

Weight: 220

The big guy from Florida will bang the boards in his senior season. The forward from Valparaiso sat out the 2012-13 season due to transfer regulations but spent everyday practicing and learning with the Sun Devils.

Edwards averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game at Valpo. His 48.5 percent shooting from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc were among the best on the team.

He is excited to get to play the power forward position instead of coming off the bench as a backup center.

“The main reason I decided to transfer is they had me playing out of position (at center) and I want to play my natural position which is as a four (power forward) or even maybe a little three,” Edwards said. “But I’m a stretch four who can score inside and also shoot from outside.”

With his size, he will clean up on the boards and also has the ability to bring it down and nail jumpers or drive the lane.

Territorial Cup Series Trophy Comes Down to the Wire in Arizona

asu ua baseballWhen the Arizona State Sun Devils (33-15-1, 14-10) and Arizona Wildcats (29-20, 10-14) take the field this weekend, they will be playing for more than just baseball supremacy.

The Territorial Cup Series Trophy will also be handed out this weekend. The series matches both schools in 18 varsity sports throughout the season; through 20 contests, the schools are in a dead heat, tied at 8.5 points each.

Here is the breakdown of points so far:

Arizona State

  • Men’s Cross Country
  • Women’s Soccer
  • Football
  • Women’s Basketball
  • Women’s Indoor Track & Field
  • Women’s Tennis
  • Men’s Golf
  • Men’s Track & Field
  • Volleyball—split series
Can the 'Cats get back to Omaha?

Can the ‘Cats get back to Omaha?


  • Women’s Cross Country
  • Men’s Basketball
  • Men’s Swimming & Diving
  • Women’s Swimming & Diving
  • Gymnastics
  • Women’s Golf
  • Softball
  • Women’s Track & Field
  • Volleyball—split series


To say that this baseball series is huge is selling it short, this is monumental.

Arizona is the defending National Champion and were nearly flawless in the postseason winning 10 straight en route to their fourth title. A program rich in tradition with 16 College World Series appearances has struggled in 2013 and a series loss would most likely end the Wildcats’ three year postseason streak.

The No. 13 Sun Devils, as ranked by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball need at least a series win but a sweep would go a long way in ensuring that they secure a top-16 seed and will host a NCAA Regional Tournament.

The teams split the first two non-conference games played in Tucson earlier this year with the Sun Devils blowing a 8-2 lead in the first contest eventually losing 10-9. The Devils returned the favor two weeks later by erasing an early three-run deficit to win 7-5.

Ryan Kellogg is 10-0 this season

Ryan Kellogg is 10-0 this season

The teams dominate the Pac-12 standings with Arizona leading in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, runs batted in, triples and walks. Arizona State leads the conference in slugging percentage, doubles, home runs and total bases.

The top-three individual conference leaders in runs scored, runs batted in, hits, triples and total bases are from one of the Arizona schools.

The pitching matchups are also intriguing with Konner Wade (4-5, 4.38) taking the mound for Arizona against Arizona State’s Trevor Williams (5-5, 3.59) on Friday. The Pac-12’s leader in wins, Ryan Kellogg (10-0, 3.36) will pitch on Saturday for the Sun Devils facing Arizona’s James Farris (4-5, 4.20). Sunday’s matinee features Tyler Crawford (5-2, 4.02) for the visiting Wildcats against Zak Miller (4-0, 4.28) defending the home field.

This weekend is rivalry weekend across the Pac-12 with the Civil War in Oregon claiming top billing but don’t overlook this heated matchup that will bring enough hitting and high scoring to heat up an already scorching desert landscape.

American Craft Beer Week Comes to Arizona

ACBWThis week marks the eighth year of American Craft Beer Week. ACBW is the brainchild of the Brewers Association, the national non-profit association on behalf of the majority of today’s U.S. breweries, and publishers of

By definition of the Brewers Association, an American Craft Brewer meets the following requirements:

  • Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.

  • Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.

  • Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

dave's electricThe explosion of craft beers on the scene has been phenomenal as of late and it seems as if there is a new brewery opening up in Arizona every time I turn around.  The history of microbreweries in Arizona can be traced back to 1988 when Dave Harvan opened Dave’s Electric Brewing Company in the small southeastern town of Bisbee, Arizona. Bandersnatch in Tempe was the first brewpub in the state but closed its’ doors a decade ago.

At last check, there were nearly 50 local breweries spanning the state with breweries in Lake Havasu City, Flagstaff, Bisbee and myriad options in Tucson and the metropolitan Phoenix areas. There are several national breweries that have locations across the state and although their beer is made on site, the revenue generated does not support local business owners.

If you are looking for a fresh brew and want to support the local economy, steer clear of places like BJ’s, Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch. The last two along with two-thirds of Old Chicago locations nationwide are owned by the conglomerate CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Here is a listing of all craft breweries in Arizona by city, so if they have a location be sure to stop by or hit up your favorite craft beer bar for some great American Craft Beer Week Specials:


  • Mesquite River Brewing Company
  • North Mountain Brewing Company
  • O.H.S.O. Eatery & nanoBrewery
  • Old World Brewery
  • Phoenix Ale Brewery
  • Sun Up Brewing
  • Veritas Brewing Company


  • 1702/The Address Brewery
  • Barrio Brewing Company
  • dragoonBorderlands Brewing Company
  • Catalina Brewing Company
  • Dragoon Brewing Company
  • Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company
  • Nimbus Brewing Company
  • Sentinel Peak  Brewing Company
  • Ten Fifty-Five Brewing


  • Beaver Street Brewery
  • Flagstaff Brewing Company
  • Grand Ganyon Brewing Company
  • Lumberyard Brewing Company
  • Mother Road Brewing Company
  • Wanderlust Brewing Company

Lake Havasu City

  • Barley Brothers Brewery
  • College Street Brewhouse & Pub
  • Mudshark Brewery

Phoenix Suburbs

  • FourPeaks BrewArizona Wilderness Brewing Company – Gilbert
  • Desert Eagle Brewing Company – Mesa
  • Fate Brewing Company – Scottsdale
  • Four Peaks Brewing Company- Tempe
  • Four Peaks Grill & Tap – Scottsdale
  • Freak’N Brewing Company – Peoria
  • Mischief  Brewing Company- Peoria
  • Papago Brewing – Scottsdale
  • Peoria Artisan Brewery – Peoria
  • SanTan Brewing Company – Chandler
  • Sleepy Dog Brewery- Tempe
  • Sleepy Dog Pub & Bistro – Gilbert
  • Sonoran Brewing Company – Scottsdale


  • Dave’s Electric Brewery
  • Old Bisbee Brewing Company

oak creekMountain Towns

  • Granite Mountain Brewing – Prescott
  • Prescott Brewing – Prescott
  • Mountain Top Brewing Company – Payson
  • Oak Creek Brewing Company – Sedona
  • THAT Brewery – Pine

Many of the above brewers ship their beers off to restaurants and retail locations across the state while the larger ones bottle and can their beers and this Saturday will be the culmination of Arizona Craft Beer Week with the Third Annual Ameri-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival hosted by SanTan Brewing Comapany.

The Scottsdale Civic Center will be the home to the Festival on Saturday, May 18 from noon-6pm. There will be over 60 local and national breweries present to crack their cans for thousands of suds-lovers and hop-heads. Tickets begin at only $25 at all Whole Foods (including Tucson) but admission will cost you $35 at the gate. VIP tickets are also available for $100 (presale only) and includes a lanyard and exclusive entry in to the shaded VIP area with catered food, treats and private bathrooms. The VIP area will also have a meet and greet with the brewers for the beer “groupies.”

Four different bands will entertain the festival goers and their will be food trucks on site for those not willing to shill out the Benjamin for VIP tickets.

The following Arizona breweries received awards this year:

  • LY_logos sm_spotFlagstaff Brewery Lumberyard IPA – Silver American Pale Ale
  • Flagstaff Brewery Lumberyard Red Ale – Silver English-Style Pale Ale
  • Grand Canyon Brewery Sunset Amber – Gold Ambers & Browns
  • Four Peaks Brewery Sunbru Kölsch – Gold Golds, Blondes, Pilsners & Light Lagers

Do yourself a favor and listen to your old buddy, David and try some of these local beers. If not at the festival on Saturday, then treat yourself in the near future.

In my world, every week is American Craft Beer Week.

‘Civil War’ Receives Top Billing in Baseball’s Rivalry Week


The Civil War in Oregon is never civil.

The colloquial term that pits the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers is one of the oldest rivalries in the United States. The football version is tied for the fifth most-played matchup in NCAA Division I FBS history with 116 meetings dating back to 1894, with Oregon dominating the series 60-46-10 and winners of the past five.

However, this is baseball and the Beavers rule the diamond with three college world series appearances in the past eight years and back-to-back national championships in 2006-2007. The Ducks have only fielded a Division I team since the 2009 season following a 26-year lapse.

duck baseOregon has struggled to trot out a quality team since their re-birth, reaching the postseason twice in four seasons and making the super regional round only once. The 2013 Oregon team (40-11, 19-5 Pac-12) is a far cry from teams of the past and looks to return to Omaha for the first time since 1954.

Their 40-win record may be just smoke and mirrors, as they are only 4-8 against ranked teams winning a game apiece over Cal State Fullerton, Vanderbilt, Arizona State and UCLA.

The Beavers (41-8, 20-4 Pac-12) also reached the vaunted 40-win plateau without playing ranked non-conference teams, although they won their series over conference foes Arizona State and UCLA. Oregon State has only lost two series this season, both on the road to unranked teams.

Both teams have been in the Top 10 of the four national polls all season long and will meet this weekend for bragging rights; the Platypus Trophy is only handed out to the winner of the football game.

Here is how the teams rank in this week’s polls:

Oregon State Beavers

NCAA Baseball RPI: No. 6

NCBWA Rank: No. 3

beavs RPIBaseball America Rank: No. 6

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 4

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 4


Oregon Ducks

NCAA Baseball RPI: No. 8

NCBWA Rank: No. 6

Baseball America Rank: No. 10

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 6

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 6

This will be a battle for the ages and will most likely decide the Pac-12 regular-season champion, as both teams face the bottom-feeding Utah and Washington State schools to finish off the season. There is a minute mathematical possibility that the UCLA Bruins could win the Pac-12, but I would put my money on the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series before predicting such an inane outcome.