August 25, 2008

Carpenter believes Sun Devils ready to go

While coach Dennis Erickson still doesn't know what to expect from his team when it opens the season Saturday, his quarterback thinks that at least offensively, ASU is right where it needs to be.

Rudy Carpenter said the minor injuries sustained by several veteran wide receivers in fall camp served to help some of the younger guys who got more reps with the No. 1 offense. And because of that, the offense is now looking sharp.

"We're right where we should be," the senior signal caller said. "We had a pretty successful camp. I think our camp allowed a lot of the younger guys to get a lot of experience.

"The offensive line did a great job this camp. I think the running backs, obviously, are a good group that we have. And I think we are in a good situation right now."

And Carpenter thinks highly of the Sun Devil defense too.

Carpenter has lined up opposite the ASU defense nearly every day for the past three weeks, and thinks this year's squad is faster than last season's, making the new blitz packages that much more effective.

"They've been mixing it up a little bit," Carpenter said of the defense. "They've been doing some different things coverage-wise, playing a little more single safety than they usually do, moving around a lot more than they usually do with the linebackers and the DBs trying to confuse you a little bit more.

"I think our defense obviously had a great camp and hopefully can carry over to next Saturday."

For ASU, having a quarterback with as much experience as Carpenter is as important as any strides the team made in camp.

Carpenter comes into the 2008 season having made 31 consecutive starts (second nationally), and leads all active Pac-10 quarterbacks in passing yards, touchdown passes, pass completions, pass attempts and 300-yard passing games.

And in his second year in Erickson's system, Carpenter is poised to improve upon his 2007 season.

"I have a better grasp of the offense than what I had last year," he said. "And I think more than that it's just that I've been here for a while. So I continually learn how to prepare for games better, how to practice better.

"The game is slowing down a lot for me. And I think overall decision making (is better), knowing when to make plays and when to cut my losses and throw the ball away. You know, trusting guys to make plays around me."

While Carpenter knows Saturday's game against Northern Arizona is the last season opener of his career, he isn't trying to get caught up in that.

In fact, nearly everything Carpenter will do this year will be the final time for him.

Carpenter knows later on in the season he will start to cherish the final moments, but he isn't thinking that far down the road yet.

"I haven't spent much time thinking of it as my final year," Carpenter said. "Once it gets later in the season, especially senior night, I'm sure I'll start to think about it a lot more. I'm sure it will be emotional for me."

But for now, he is solely focused on getting himself and his teammates ready for Northern Arizona.

"They played us tough two years ago," he said, "so there should be no reason why our team shouldn't be ready to play and ready to come out an play to the best of our ability."

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