Rudy Carpenter said after Saturday night’s victory he was just glad to face a defense that wouldn’t “cheat” by knowing the offensive schemes.
Carpenter countered his own team’s defense throughout fall camp but made the most of his opportunity to face an actual opponent. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 388 yards and a touchdown in under three quarters of action.
“Rudy threw the ball extremely well,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said.
On a night where the ASU passing game needed to carry the Sun Devil offense because of hamstring injuries to running backs Keegan Herring (senior) and Shaun DeWitty (junior), Carpenter was at center stage.
One reason for his look of ease: a well–played game by the offensive line.
“I thought [the offensive line] protected pretty well,” Carpenter said. “For the most part, I had a lot of time to sit back there and read coverage and make plays.”
Carpenter quickly got the Sun Devils on the board in their first drive of the game when he dumped the ball to sophomore wide receiver Kerry Taylor, who then flew by the Lumberjack defense for a 52-yard touchdown.
“Rudy made some great throws to me, so it was kind of easy,” Taylor said. “It helps having a quarterback like Rudy who can put the ball on the money.”
Taylor finished the game with four catches for 93 yards, eclipsing his total receiving yards for all of 2007.
“I just had a better opportunity this year,” Taylor said. “A lot of hard work in the offseason has paid off for me.”
Carpenter’s connection with Taylor was his only touchdown pass of the night, but he marched the Sun Devils down the field for five more scoring drives.
At one point, Carpenter completed 13 straight passes in the first half, tying a 56-year-old school record.
“The thing Rudy’s doing [this season] is moving around and getting rid of the ball quicker,” Erickson said.
Senior wide receiver Michael Jones was Carpenter’s favorite target on the night, as he caught six balls for 162 yards. But he wasn’t the only one.
Carpenter did not discriminate with his pass distribution. He completed passes to eight different receivers.
“I’m very comfortable with all of the guys we have,” Carpenter said about the receiving unit.
Erickson said the progression of the team’s wide receivers is a direct result of the work they have put in.
“They’ve played together for a long time; they spent a lot of time [practicing] this summer,” Erickson said. “They have confidence in one another and Rudy has a pretty good idea of where they are going to be.”
While Carpenter was nearly perfect, junior quarterback Danny Sullivan was far from it.
Sullivan replaced Carpenter at the 6:58 mark of the third quarter and completed just one of eight throws for -1 yards. The Sun Devils could not muster another first down for the rest of the game.
Nicholas Kosmider contributed to this report.
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