By JOHN SLEEPER
SEATTLE – Todd Heap doesn’t have to catch passes for Arizona State to win.
Heap, the Sun Devils’ all-Pacific-10 Conference tight end whose reputation lies in his acrobatic catches, has been largely a decoy this season, yet ASU is 4-1 (1-1 Pac-10).
In five games, Heap has 17 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns, well below the rate he needs to duplicate last year’s marks of 55 catches for 832 yards.
Part of the reason is because foes have double-teamed Heap, a tactic Washington likely will employ Saturday night. Another is that quarterback Jeff Krohn, who started the Sun Devils’ first three games before coming down with mononucleosis, is a redshirt freshman who presents Heap with a limited aerial package.
For example, against Colorado State, Heap had four catches for just 24 yards.
ASU coach Bruce Snyder, however, hardly is worried about Heaps’ numbers.
“In my opinion, he plays his position better than anybody’s playing that position that I’ve seen across the country,” Snyder said. “He’s a strong blocker and an excellent inside route runner because he’s very quick. He’s very difficult for linebackers to run with. He’s capable of out-rebounding defensive backs.”
Yet, the attention Heap has reaped from defenders has opened up things for the Sun Devils’ other receivers, especially in deep patterns.
Griffin Goodman completed just 11 of 28 passes against Cal Saturday, but the completions went for 394 yards. Goodman threw touchdown passes of 50, 68 and 50 yards and also tossed a 54-yard completion.
“It’s fine with me, as long as we’re winning,” Heap said.
Neuheisel attended ASU games since he was 5. He always had a ticket, but he and some buddies would sneak in, he said, because it was more fun that way.
“I’d beg players for their sweat bands,” he said.
Kush was fired as coach in 1979 amid charges that he punched punter Kevin Rutledge during a 1978 ASU-Washington game in Seattle and that he tried to cover up the incident.
The firing put an end to a 22 1/2-season run of success in which the Sun Devils were 176-54-1, with nine Western Athletic Conference titles and a 6-1 bowl record.
After Kush’s exit, the NCAA slapped Arizona State with a two-year penalty of no bowls and no television for 20 recruiting violations during the 1978-79 school year.