October 21, 2008

Sun Devils looking to end win drought

The Arizona State football team is only half way through its season, but for some of the Sun Devil faithful the 2008 season already seems over.

The team though, doesn't think so.

Coach Dennis Erickson said his team can still have an "outstanding" season, and in his mind, ASU just needs to get a win to end its drought. Then it will be back on the right track.

"A lot of good things can happen," he said. "The bottom line with us is taking it one at a time and getting that first win. It's pretty hard to look past anything other than that.

"[The players] are motivated. They're competitors. They want to win games as bas as anybody."

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter agreed with his coach.

He said ASU is still confident, and that it could potentially win the rest of its games, which would put it at a 9-4 mark.

"That's pretty good, right?" he asked.

But the path to getting on the winning track won't be easy with Oregon (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) coming to Tempe on Saturday.

"It's going to be another tough week for us," Carpenter said. "They have a really good defense. They have a lot of guys returning. Both their corners and their safeties are good. Patrick Chung is one of the better players in the Pac-10. They also have good linebackers with Jerome Boyd and some of those other guys. And they have a good front four."

Oregon's defense is allowing 25.6 points per game.

While Carpenter is concerned about the opposing defense, Erickson expressed more concern about the Ducks offense.

Oregon uses two quarterbacks, Jeremiah Masoli and Justin Roper, who do completely different things when they're in the game.

Masoli is extremely fast and runs the option very well while Roper is more of a drop-back passer.

"You prepare differently for both of those guys," Erickson said. "With one they are going to throw it a little more and with the other one, he can throw it, but they're going to run the triple-option aspect [of their offense]."

Saturday's game against the Ducks is certainly not as big as it was when the two teams met last year in Eugene.

At the time, Oregon was No. 4 and ASU was ranked sixth in the nation. The winner of that game, it seemed, would have the inside track to the Rose Bowl.

This time around, neither team is ranked and BCS dreams faded a long time ago for the Sun Devils.

But for ASU, this game is just as important.

"When you're competing for a conference championship and a possible BCS bowl, obviously that's there in front of you so you're excited about doing that," Erickson said of last year's game. "On the other hand, we are where we are and we know what we need to do to get this thing going in the right direction. There's not anything like a win to cure some things. That's where we're at right now."

Frustration mounting

Prior to ASU's 28-0 loss at USC on Oct. 11, Carpenter had never been on a team that was shut out. Ever.

"It was embarrassing," Carpenter said. "I was frustrated, but I was really more frustrated for our defense because our defense played so well in that game and they gave us so many opportunities to score points and we just couldn't come through for those guys."

The biggest thing the Sun Devils keep stressing is the necessity of big plays on offense.

"To me it's just a matter of making plays and execution," Erickson said. "We just haven't been consistent. We have to become more consistent on offense for us to have any success in these last six games."

Carpenter added that the offense has a long ways to go.

"We need to do everything better," Carpenter said. "I did some reflecting on the six games that we had and we've had our opportunities in all the games we lost. We had opportunities in all those games on offense to put up some points and come away with some wins or at least help our defense.

"The number one thing is we need to execute better."

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