Carpenter Building Confidence

In football, one player's bad luck is often another's good fortune. Needless to say that backup quarterback Rudy Carpenter would have liked to be getting reps with the first team under other circumstances, than the multiple injuries suffered by starter Sam Keller. Nevertheless, he has taken full advantage of his opportunity gaining the approval of his coaches, as well as settling furthermore in his role.

"We (the first team offense) had two good practices in a row which is good," said the 6-3 197 Rudy Carpenter. "I usually don't get the chance to work with those guys, and just being in the huddle with guys like Grayling Love, Derek Hagan…is a lot different. It helped me because now I needed to be more of a leader and step up my presence on the field. It has helped my confidence a lot. In order for me to play with those guys I needed confidence, and that's something I thought I was lacking." The redshirt freshman added that he admires the confidence and smarts that Sam Keller exhibits on the field, and that he tries to learn from that.

Thus far in 2005, Carpenter has played in three games and is 14-17 for 140 yards and two touchdowns. One of those scores was a beautiful pass to Nate Kimbrough in the Temple game. The signal caller had no problem admitting that Kimbrough is his favorite target. "I'm with Nate in the 2's and we work out a lot together, and I have a natural timing with him," Carpenter commented. "I do miss him. Going with 1's in practice…those guys are a lot faster. So I have to be fast throwing the ball and getting it there on time. My knowledge of the game has improved working with the 1's. The transition was a lot smoother than I thought. I thought it was gonna be harder because I'm still learning. The coaches have a good game plan, and I've been learning it."

Carpenter arrived in Tempe last year as a much heralded player. He was named the Los Angeles Daily News offensive player of the year, led Westlake (Calif.) high school to a championship and an undefeated 14-0 season, and played in the prestigious CaliFlorida high school all-star game. As with many true freshmen, he had to endure a steep learning curve when coming into the college football world. "I didn't get a lot of reps with the offense, so I had a lot of learning to do," he commented regarding his freshman year. "When I came into the spring, I was just thrown into the mix. I had no idea what was going on. I wasn't getting all the reps, so I did have to do a lot of film work and that's how I got better."

There's a strong chance that he will play against Stanford, and maybe even start. Is Carpenter worried about the pressure that he may endure? "I played football all my life," he sated. "Coming into college and playing football was a goal of mine. If I get to play, then I'm excited. Maybe before the game my stomach will be turning a little bit (smile)."

The redshirt freshman played in three games, which was invaluable. The jitters, the calmness and focus kicked in once on the field. "I remember sitting in the bus before the Temple game," Carpenter recalled. "I was asking guys what it's like playing in a college game. I was kind of nervous, even though it was a game that we knew we would win. In the game everything felt natural and felt like high school. Every game I played my confidence grew."

His style of play is one that may not cause a game plan to be altered, but will nonetheless have an aspect of excitement to it. "I like to run a little bit more than Sam," Carpenter remarked. "Jake Plummer and Brett Favre are guys I look up to. I like the fact that those guys are football players, not just quarterbacks. They go out and compete everyday, which I like to do to…there's a dimension in my game that I can use that can help the team. I have fun doing it, and if I'll play it's an aspect I'm sure I'll use."

Despite the fact that in Tuesday's practice he did take the vast majority of the snaps as a starter, his starting status isn't determined either way currently. This fact however won't dictate his preparations. "Sam practiced today and threw the ball pretty good," he said. "I'm just gonna go out here and do my job which is prepare like I'm gonna play. I think I'm prepared and I'm only gonna get better with every day that I practice."

Preparations are never limited to the physical sense, and mentally Carpenter had to adjust his outlook compared to other second-stringers. "That's why throughout the season and in camp I wanted to act like I was gonna be the starter, just because that's the only way I can prepare myself and not slack off," Carpenter continued. "I'm always one play away (from starting), and I didn't want to be the guy that's unprepared."

One thing that may cause him to be found ill-equipped is taking care the family members that will be at the game. "I do have family that lives in the bay area, and when they found that I'll have a chance to play people have been calling me wanting tickets. I don't know how I'll get them all (laughs)."

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