I bet you don’t know who the ASU football team’s leading rusher was in Saturday’s game against NAU. Feel free to venture a guess.
Surprise: It was the same player who completed over 78 percent of his passes. Indeed, it was senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter.
Let us officially end the Rudy bashing right now, once and for all.
I was there three years ago against USC. I know who Sam Keller is and who Dirk Koetter was.
But the quarterback controversy ended a long time ago. Carpenter has increased his total passing yards for each season since 2005 and is currently the second leading career touchdown passer in school history.
His importance cannot be understated when you consider the minimal amount of time Carpenter actually played last Saturday. Carpenter was out most of the third quarter and all of the fourth, but still threw for 388 yards.
Carpenter’s play rivaled that of some of the nation’s marquee signal-callers.
Even whispering the word “Heisman” draws laughs and sharp criticism, but his 428 net yards topped the efforts of Oklahoma sophomore Sam Bradford, Missouri senior Chase Daniel, Georgia junior Matthew Stafford and the reigning Heisman winner, Florida junior Tim Tebow.
It seems fair to say that Carpenter has a new rival in USC junior Mark Sanchez, who racked up 338 passing yards in a 52-7 drubbing of Virginia.
ASU’s passing game was plenty effective with Carpenter completing at least two passes to six different receivers.
It is somewhat inaccurate to say that the running game didn’t produce the results many had hoped for. Junior running back Dimitri Nance left in the third quarter when the game was already in hand. With senior running back Keegan Herring not suiting up, Carpenter scrambled for his yardage outside of the pocket.
This is how it all comes back to Carpenter. Should he continue to throw efficiently, he will open up more running possibilities behind an offensive line which only allowed one sack last Saturday, and with the current receiving core at hand, there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to do this, at least in the air.
OK, so Heisman talk might be a little premature. But it’s fairly easy to say that Carpenter was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation this past weekend. Should ASU’s aspirations of a Rose Bowl come to fruition, then it’s expected that someone on this team will grab some of the national spotlight. Why not Carpenter, who is the leader of this team anyway?
Let’s hope Stanford’s defense folds as it did last year when Carpenter and the Sun Devils scored 41 points against it.
The running attack will get deeper the second Herring is cleared to play. ASU faithful just need Carpenter to keep making defenses respect his right arm.
Or as he showed Saturday, Carpenter can run his way to an unexpected season.
Reach the reporter at Joshua.Spivack@asu.edu