September 29, 2006

Carpenter looking to bust out of slump

If you watched Rudy Carpenter play last season, you might have thought it not possible, but the sophomore signal caller admitted following practice on Thursday what everyone else already seems to be talking about. He's struggling.

The 6-foot-2 207-pounder led the nation in three national categories last season including passing efficiency and lowest interception rate. He threw just two interceptions in 228 passing attempts, setting a school record in the process, at .008.

The contrast from then to now is stark. Some might call it puzzling.

Through four games this season, Carpenter has thrown eight interceptions in 123 attempts, including four in the Pac-10 opener last week at Cal. That's twice as many interceptions in one game as he had last season in five starts.

Contrary to what is being rumored on message board and radio shows, Carpenter said injuries to one or both hands are not the cause of his troubles. Instead, he said he's simply not doing things as he should.

"I've been turning the ball over a lot and not just on interceptions, like fumbles and stuff like that and that's just because I've been careless with the ball as far as my mechanics go and trying to make throws I probably shouldn't make or carrying the ball in ways (that aren't sound)," Carpenter said. 'It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm just trying to make plays, especially when we haven't been playing too well on offense."

Carpenter was emotionally down after the Cal loss, when he reportedly said following the game that he probably wasn't as good as he thought he was.

An emphasis was made this week by the Arizona State coaches to reinforce fundamentals and perhaps simplify things in the passing game a bit for Carpenter and his teammates. But whether or not these changes will lead to an improved performance on Saturday remains to be seen.

"It's hard to tell. I guess I won't really know that until another game," Carpenter said. "I don't really know what the problem is you know what I mean. I'm trying to figure (it) out. I think I've got a little bit of a mental block right now. Kind of like a hitter who's in a slump. I think I just need to get a few completions, make a few good reads and then I might be good after that, I don't know. But it's something I've got to keep fighting through."

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