Carpenter, Erickson: Still reason to compete

10-21-08 Football
Freshman defensive lineman Lawrence Guy jumps over ASU players to tackle Cal wide reciever Jeremy Ross during ASU's loss against the Golden Bears Oct. 4, 2008 in Memorial Stadium.(Morgan Bellinger/The State Press)
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
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The ASU football team (2-4, 1-2 Pac-10) has reached its season’s halfway point disappointed with the midterm results.

At their weekly press conference Monday, senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter and coach Dennis Erickson said the team still has plenty to play for.

Carpenter went so far as to say a nine-win season would be ideal. To accomplish that feat, ASU would need to win each of its final six games as well as a bowl game.

“We can still make a lot out of this season,” Carpenter said. “Obviously we’re worried about Oregon and trying to get a win against Oregon, but we feel we can win a lot of these games we’re playing.”

Erickson said the team has not accepted the fate of a losing season.
“We can still have an outstanding season,” Erickson said. “The bottom line with us is we’ve got to take it one game at a time and get that first win.”

Erickson said he doesn’t think his players have lost a competitive edge despite the four-game losing streak.

“I like the character of our football team,” he said. “I really think they’ll battle back and play well the last half of the season.”

Carpenter, who was walking with a slight limp on Monday, said his ankle is improving and believes he will be ready to play against Oregon (5-2, 3-1) on Saturday.

“I finally got the boot off; I hope for good,” he said. “I should be fine for Saturday.”

Both Carpenter and Erickson said they have looked back at the first six games of the season and chalked up the offense’s woes to a lack of execution.

ASU has scored 23 combined points in its last three games compared to 91 points in its first three games.

Of course, the early opponents on ASU’s schedule contributed to those numbers too.

“We’re young in some areas, so I look for those guys to improve quite a bit,” Erickson said. “It’s a matter of making plays and executing.”

“We have to become more consistent on offense for us to have any success in these last six games.”

Carpenter admitted he was frustrated with an offense he is being counted on to lead as a senior. Monday, he said every aspect of that side of the ball needs improvement.

“We’ve got to do everything better,” he said. “We need to execute throwing the ball to open guys, catching balls, blocking people, running the ball.”

Defensive front

ASU’s strong defensive performance against No. 6 USC on Oct. 11 was led in large part by a defensive line able to apply pressure in the backfield.

Erickson said a constant shift of personnel was a key factor in the play of the line. Defensive line coach Grady Stretz has been rotating as many as eight players to share time at the tackle and end positions.

Erickson noted that freshman Lawrence Guy has played “extremely well” in his game opportunities.

Guy is currently fifth on the team in tackles with 23 and also has a sack.

During some stretches in the USC game, the ASU defensive line featured three freshmen with Guy at tackle and freshman Jamaar Jarrett and redshirt freshman James Brooks at the defensive end spots.

Reach the reporter at nkosmide@asu.edu.