Aloha Bowl Preview

The Key Information

Who: The Arizona State Sun Devils (Pac Ten) vs the Boston College Eagles (Big East)
When: Monday, December 25th at 3:30 Eastern Time, televised by ABC
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The Matchup

Here we have a bowl game pitting a Catholic University against a team called the Devils to be played on Christmas Day a week prior to the turn of the true historical Millennium in, of all places, Hawaii. At first glance you might think you are reading the book jacket of Steven King's latest novel. But upon further review, you will realize that this is quite simply Aloha Bowl 2000. I don't expect any battles of good versus evil (after all, Notre Dame won't be there) but we should see a lot of offense and some great athletes including several outstanding Sun Devils that most of us here on the East Coast have never heard of. Chestnut Hill and Tempe are roughly 2,600 miles apart. Their paths rarely cross, but there are many similaries between the two teams:

  • Both teams wear maroon and gold
  • Both teams finished the season with disappointing 6-5 records.
  • Both teams fought injury and illness all season
  • Both teams are looking for redemption following 1999 bowl blowouts losses (Arizona State lost to Wake Forest 23-3, BC lost to Colorado 62-28)
If both teams play to their potential, it should be a very entertaining game.

The Coaches

Both coaches enter the game amidst controversy. Arizona State Head Coach Bruce Snyder will be coaching his last game for the Sun Devils after being fired last month. Meanwhile, Tom O'Brien has been widely rumored to be a candidate for some of the vacant head coaching jobs around the country, including one at the University of Virginia if current coach George Welsh retires after the season. Ironically, Welsh's Cavaliers will also be in Hawaii to play in the December 24th Oahu Bowl.

The Season

Arizona State played to the level of their competition in 2000 and consequently ended up in many close games. Seven of their eleven games were decided by seven points or less, including three in overtime. The Sun Devils performed well against top competition, beating current #22 ranked Colorado State, losing to #4 Washington by six points and losing to #11 Oregon by one point in overtime. On the other hand, Arizona State struggled to beat San Diego State and Washington State and lost to two teams with losing records - Stanford and USC. The Eagles, by contrast, had no problems with the cupcake portion of their schedule beating Army, Navy, Connecticut, Temple and Rutgers by a combined score of 231-43. However, the Eagles lost by 12 points or more to all three of their Top 25 opponents including a 52-6 blowout at #2 Miami.

The Arizona State Sun Devils

Because of injury, illness and suspensions, the Sun Devils were forced to use four different quarterbacks during the 2000 season. Three year starter Ryan Kealy, who had passed for more than 6,000 yards in his first three years at Arizona State, was suspended by Coach Snyder prior to the start of the season following a pair of arrests for driving under the influence. Kealy returned to the Sun Devils, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in a September game with UCLA. Freshman quarterback Jeff Krohn, who fought illness during the season, eventually emerged as the starter. Krohn completed 48.8% of his passes for 1,677 yards and tossed 12 touchdown passes against only 5 interceptions in 2000. His best game came on October 28th against Oregon where he threw for 432 yards and 5 touchdowns in the Sun Devils 56-55 overtime loss to the Ducks. Backup Griffin Goodman also saw a great deal of action behind the center this season completing only 43.6% of his 110 passes for 877 yards, 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

As with the quarterback postion, the Sun Devils were forced to scramble at running back because of injury. Senior Delvon Flowers was expected to carry most of the load at running back in 2000, but suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and was lost for the season. Picking up the slack were former Idaho Vandal Tom Pace and true freshman Mike Williams. Williams showed promise in the early part of the season which included a 143 yard performance against Colorado State, but has since been relegated to a backup role due to inconsistent play and his propensity for fumbling. Junior Tom Pace has emerged as the #1 back for Bruce Snyder. Pace rushed for 581 yards and 5 touchdowns this season, including a 33 carry, 158 yard performance against Oregon.

Arizona State placed three offensive linemen on this year's All Pac Ten teams. Junior center Scott Peters and Senior right tackle Victor Leyva earned first team honors while Junior left tackle Levi Jones gained second team honors. Despite the talent level on the offensive line, Arizona State surrendered 37 quarterback sacks this season.

Arizona State's passing attack is very impressive. Three Sun Devil receivers caught at least 38 passes for 600 yards or more this season. The player to watch is All Pac Ten first-team tight end Todd Heap, who caught 45 passes for 617 yards and 3 touchdowns. Heap, a 6'5", 242 pound Junior from Mesa, was also named to the CNN-SI All American team. At wide receiver, the Devils go to Junior Donnie O'Neal and Senior Richard Williams. Each player caught seven touchdown passes in 2000.

Arizona State's defensive line is anchored by true Freshman and blue chip recruit Terrell Suggs. The 6'5" defensive end sacked opposing quarterbacks 10 times this season and brought home the Pac Ten Freshman of the Year award. The rest of Arizona State defensive front four has been a disappointment. All told, Arizona State sacked opposing quarterbacks 35 times in 2000, including four by right tackle Kurt Wallin and three more by 6'8", 272 pound defensive end Quincy Yancy.

Linebacker is clearly the strength of the Arizona State defense. Pac Ten Defensive Player of the Year Adam Archuleta accumulated 119 tackles - 86 of them solo - this season. Archuleta, a Senior from Chandler, Arizona, also had 3 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries and made 14 tackles for a loss. In the middle is Sophomore run-stopper Solomon Bates, who racked up 93 tackles, 3 sacks and forced 4 fumbles.

The weakest link in ASU's defense is their secondary. The Devils were ranked 91st in the nation in pass defense, allowing a hefty 234 yards per game this season. However, the unit is not without talent. Senior cornerback Nijrell Eason is an excellent cover man and led the team with 5 interceptions. Unfortunately for the Devils, the rest of the secondary has failed to live up to expectations.

Arizona State Sophomore kicker Mike Barth converted only 15 of 23 field goals during the season (65%), but was very accurate inside of 40 yards, connecting on 10 of 11 attempts. On the punting side, Junior Nick Murphy averaged a decent 41.1 yards per punt, including 29 inside the 20 yard line. On the down side, Murphy had three kicks blocked and two returned for touchdowns. Returning most of the kickoffs for the Sun Devils was wide receiver Richard Williams who averaged 20.7 yards per kick return. Shaun McDonald and Justin Talpin split the punt return duties. McDonald was the more successful return man averaging 11.0 yards per return and one touchdown.

Special thanks to "NewEnglandDevil" for providing some great information on the Sun Devils

Home | Sitemap | Schedule | BC Stats | Opponents | Alumni Stadium | BC Trivia