"You take any win you can get in the Pac-10," said Dirk Koetter. "Under the circumstances we were dealt, I'm proud of our guys for hanging in there. They had plenty of chances to cave. They (Washington) came out and played exactly like we thought they would. We thought we could throw the ball downfield during this game and it worked out. The first half everything was working, and they didn't stop us one time. The only time we didn't score is when we missed a field goal. They changed their coverages in the second half, and forced us to run the ball playing two-deep. Guys made the plays when they had to and executed on third down."
One position that continues to be decimated by injuries is the offensive line – who added Grayling Love to the list of sidelined players, and lost Stephen Berg during the course of the game. "I'm not surprised, but happy with is how well that O-Line (played)," stated the Sun Devil skipper. "That was patchwork. Robert Gustavis getting the start at right guard was the ninth different lineman we started. When Berg went down, Gustavis had to flip to left guard, and in comes Paul Fanaika, a walk-on who only played in a few mop-up games. He had a couple false starts, but I thought he really sucked it up. We had a lot of offensive linemen play out of position, and I'm just really proud of that group. That's a nice testament to Brent Myers our O-Line coach and the job he does getting those guys ready to play." Koetter added that when Berg went down, he was very close to burning Shawn Lavaou's redshirt, but decided to play Fanaika instead. Koetter mentioned that he's hopeful to get Andrew Carnahan back on the line next week, but was afraid it doesn't look too good for Stephen Berg. Grayling Love will be evaluated on Monday.
While Carpenter did a tremendous job passing for 401 yards, three scores, and all this on 79% completion, he did contribute to the seven sacks he suffered. "The one thing that he will have to get better at, as he plays more – he held the ball too long a couple of times tonight," remarked Koetter. "He has been so successful at picking out open receivers, that when it doesn't happen to him right now it seems like he's holding it forever. Rudy is a great scrambler, and he only showed that off twice tonight. We're gonna have to have Rudy take off and scramble." An odd Washington defensive formation in the second half, that created a bad match-up for Rudy Burgess blocking from his running back position, was also a culprit for the sacks ASU suffered.
Carpenter will get the nod for the rest of the season, not only due to his fine play, but also because of Sam Keller's torn thumb ligament. "We found out yesterday that Sam (Keller) is going to have thumb surgery next week," Koetter commented. "We were hoping he could make it until December 1st. The hand specialist didn't recommend any further throwing. If we do the surgery next week, we have a chance for it to heal so he can get ready for next year (Keller faces four months of rehab). I just want to stress what a stud Sam Keller is. We could have used him in an emergency tonight. He had a heck of a season.". As a result of that injury, Chad Christensen will go back to his old position as second string quarterback.
Jesse Ainsworth did a solid job at punter replacing starter Chris MacDonald. He averaged 41 yards a kick, with one being carefully placed in the opponent's 10-yard line. "I'm very pleased with Jesse," said Koetter. "He has improved so much as a punter the last month, and he has improved his get-off, trajectory of his kick…we decided to make the switch and practiced it all week and I think that gave our team confidence. We needed Jesse to step up and he did. But if he only had to punt three times a game, that would be OK with me too…I'm not down on Chris MacDonald. He's a great kid and a very valuable member of our team."
As if they didn't have enough injuries on offense, running back Keegan Herring was out for most of the game because of his knee. "Keegan got hurt in the first half," Koetter explained. "Initially, they (the team's trainers and doctors) told me that he had torn something is his knee and he was out for the rest of the game. Later in the game, Keegan wanted to come back and they said that he could come back. But I just didn't feel good about it and Preston did a good job in practice. I'm not sure what Keegan's status is."
Two main factors caused Josh Golden, who is closing out his ASU career, to play at safety for the very first time. "With the emergence of R.J. Oliver and we're a little healthy at corner…we didn't feel like we were getting quite as much production out of the other safeties other than Zach Catanese, as we were earlier in the season. I think Maurice London will have a chance to work in at safety next week."
Both teams had a pair of fumbles, but only Washington lost both of them. That coupled with one interception, gave ASU a 3-0 edge in the turnover department. "The turnover thing was huge," said Koetter. "That's one thing we didn't have the last few games. Tonight we got some and that was great to see. Although Washington moved the ball on our defense, we found a way to buckle down in the red zone. We're #1 in red zone defense in the Pac-10 and I'm sure we didn't do anything to hurt that tonight. The frustrating thing tonight - it seemed that we had a penalty every (Washington) third down. But we made plays."
Koetter Praises Gutsy Win
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