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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Perfect ending for Rudy?

    Opponent Analysis

    With his collegiate career coming to a close, the positive impact Rudy Carpenter has made on the Arizona State program is hard to ignore.

    The senior quarterback ranks first in Sun Devil history in career completions (786), completion percentage (62) and second in career attempts (1,278), career touchdowns (80) and career passing yards (10,367) entering the Duel in the Desert and has started 42 consecutive games under center.

    But more importantly, Carpenter can boast a perfect 4-0 record against the rival Wildcats with a win in Arizona Stadium on Saturday night.

    “”He means a lot to Arizona State, and Arizona State means a lot to him, probably is the best way to put it,”” said ASU head coach Dennis Erickson. “”To start as many games as he has and to be hit as many times as he has been is quite an accomplishment. It just shows you how tough he is and how he hangs in there.””

    The Westlake, Calif., native doesn’t have much to be worried about if his past games against the Wildcats are any indication of this weekend’s clash. Carpenter has totaled 707 yards and five scores with just one interception on 55-of-99 passing in his three wins against Arizona. A performance similar to those numbers could mean more good news for the Sun Devils and result in the team making a bowl game for the fifth straight season.

    “”Obviously it would be a pretty big accomplishment. I’d like to say that playing against the U of A is just another game we’re trying to win, but obviously that’s not the case,”” Carpenter said in his weekly press conference. “”Playing U of A is a big deal and winning is a big deal, and I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of three teams that have won the three previous years.

    “”But I was also part of a team that lost my (redshirt) freshman year so I know what that can be like,”” he added. “”A lot of seniors went down (to Tucson) and lost their final game to them and we don’t want that to be us.””

    For the Sun Devils to avoid that fate, they will need to their defense to play more like they did in last week’s 34-9 win against UCLA than a team that allowed 183 points during mid-season six-game losing streak.

    The ASU defense did show some signs of life last weekend as the unit returned four UCLA turnovers into 28 points – three picks for six and one fumble return for a score – and has at least one defensive score in four straight games. Add that to the fact the Wildcats have committed six turnovers in their last three games against ASU and the Sun Devils’ defense might have stumbled upon the answer to their success against Arizona.

    “”They’ve just been able to make a lot of big plays defensively,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”They play aggressively and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.””

    But regardless of how the defense plays, the team seem to only do as well as Carpenter. If he’s on, the Sun Devils usually win – see a 41-17 win over Stanford and the 39-19 win over Washington. If he’s off, they get smashed by good teams or lose to bad teams – see the 23-20 loss to UNLV (5-7) and a 27-10 loss to then-No. 3 Georgia in back to back home games. But Carpenter isn’t one to point fingers. Despite another season with solid production from a statistical standpoint, Carpenter isn’t satisfied with his overall effort this year.

    “”It doesn’t even matter how I think I’ve played, obviously not good enough. We’ve only won five games,”” Carpenter said. “”I guess a quarterback is judged on wins and losses and obviously I haven’t helped find our team ways to win.””

    But with a fourth win over the UA, the senior could go down in history as the all-time Wildcat killer if ASU can pull of a mild upset Saturday night. Carpenter could conceivably move into first place in career touchdowns and passing yards with a fourth big game against the Wildcats – he is five scores and 250 yards away from the top spot on both lists – but even without a monster day, a perfect career against Arizona would undoubtedly leave the senior with something to be proud of after he hangs up his cleats in Tempe.

    “”I think I should be (proud) no matter what anybody else says. I’ve done a lot of things here. I don’t have any (regrets),”” Carpenter said. “”I think – I graduated – I think I was a good citizen here, despite what some people say. I won a lot of games. I put up a lot of numbers. What else are you supposed to do?””

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