#18 NAU (0-0) at Arizona State (0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 • 7:45 p.m.
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: Flagstaff HITS 106.1 FM; Phoenix Money Radio 1510 AM & 99.3 FM; Prescott Area 97.9 FM Eagle Rocks; Window Rock/Ft. Defiance, Ariz. & Gallup, N.M. KHAC 880 AM
Northern Arizona will kick off its 102nd year of football this Saturday, Sept. 3 on the road at Arizona State. The game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium. Lumberjack fans wishing to purchase a ticket to the game can do so by clicking here.
The Opening Drive
• Saturday will mark the start of head coach Jerome Souers' 19th season at NAU.
• The game pairs the Lumberjacks and Sun Devils against each other for the first time since 2012. The last meeting was Aug. 30, 2012 with ASU topping NAU, 63-6. Only four players - Jacob Julian, Eric Rodriguez, Dylan LaFrenz, and Jake Thomas - were on NAU's roster at the time. They were all true freshmen.
• NAU is 14-21-4 versus ASU all-time with the Sun Devils winning the last nine meetings. In 1946, the Lumberjacks and Sun Devils' game resulted in a tie, 13-13. The last time NAU beat ASU was in 1938, with the Lumberjacks coming away with a 19-13 victory in Flagstaff.
• NAU looks to win its second straight season opener. The Lumberjacks are 3-7 in season openers over the last 10 years, and 9-9 in season openers under Souers. NAU won four straight season openers from 1998 to 2001.
• NAU is ranked No. 18 in the STATS FCS and Coaches Preseason National Polls. For the first time in school history, the Jacks were voted No. 1 in the Big Sky Preseason Polls by both the league coaches and media.
• NAU welcomes back the reigning FCS STATS National Freshman Player of the Year and Jerry Rice Award winner quarterback Case Cookus. The Thousand Oaks, Calif. native finished fifth in national player of the year voting; the only freshman on the final ballot.
• The offense returns All-American and Big Sky First Team honoree wide receiver Emmanuel Butler. The Mountain Pointe HS wide out set a new NAU single season receiving yards record in 2015 with 1,208 yards. His sophomore numbers have landed him on the offensive player of the year watch list, along with Cookus.
• Before current NAU wide receiver coach Aaron Pflugrad joined the Lumberjack coaching staff, he was a graduate assistant at ASU during the 2014 season. Pflugrad played for the Sun Devils from 2009-11. He finished his ASU career with 73 catches for 994 yards and seven touchdowns. His dad, Robin, served as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at ASU from 1995-2000.
• Current ASU defensive backs coach TJ Rushing was a member of the NAU coaching staff during the 2014 season. Rushing coached the cornerbacks, mentoring a pair of players to All-Big Sky honors.
Scouting Arizona State
• Guided by fifth-year head coach Todd Graham, Arizona State looks to finish better than its preseason Pac-12 ranking shows. The Sun Devils went 6-7 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-12 a year ago to finish in fourth place. Graham holds a 34-21 record at ASU.
• The Sun Devils were a passing team a year ago, having notched 3,881 passing yards to 2,325 rushing. ASU will have a new look at quarterback on Saturday, as none of the QBs on its roster have recorded a start. The Sun Devils are the only school in the FBS without a quarterback on the roster that's thrown a Division I pass.
• ASU is 21-6 at Sun Devil Stadium under Todd Graham. The Sun Devils are 278-101-3 (.731) all-time at Sun Devil Stadium since 1958, the 25th-highest active winning percentage in a stadium among all FBS schools.
• A top target for the Sun Devils on offense will be wide receiver Tim White, a preseason watch list honoree. He's the program's top returning wide receiver, after tallying 1,709 all-purpose yards, which ranked him 19th in the country for average all-purpose yards with 132.92. White also scored eight touchdown receptions to tie for first on the team.
• Defensively, senior linebacker Salamo Fiso ranked 12th in the country in solo tackles (78) and eighth in tackles for loss (20) in 2015. Named to numerous watch lists this season, Fiso is a strong playmaker the Sun Devils have in their backyard.
Four Jacks Named to Preseason All-Big Sky Team
• NAU last beat a NCAA FBS or I-A opponent on Sept. 8, 2012 when it defeated UNLV 17-14 with a game-winning field goal. The Lumberjacks are 8-50 all-time in match-ups against FBS/I-A opponents since 1957.
• Northern Arizona placed four players on the All-Big Sky Preseason Team. The offensive group of Emmanuel Butler, Case Cookus, Jacob Julian, and Blake Porter all received preseason accolades. It was the first all-conference preseason honor for all four players.
• Butler, a junior wide receiver from Phoenix, Ariz., is coming off a record-setting year where he set a new single season receiving yards mark of 1,208. He tied the school record for touchdown catches in a season with 15, and was one of the top wideouts in the FCS in 2015.
• Cookus, the reigning FCS Freshman Player of the Year, completed 37 touchdown passes; breaking an 11-year old FCS freshman record. The Thousand Oaks, Calif. native, registered 3,117 passing yards – the sixth most in NAU history in a season. The quarterback also led the nation and tied the NAU single-game passing touchdowns record of seven, while finishing fifth in national offensive player of the year voting.
• Julian, a senior from Prescott, Ariz., and Porter, a junior from Newhall, Calif., were both critical in NAU having a successful offensive season a year ago. Julian at left tackle, and Porter at center, helped NAU to only its third 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard receiver, and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season.