Carpenter walked into the press room at Sun Devil Stadium just as Coach Erickson had some good things to say about him. "As I said before, he's a competitor, he's got a big heart, and he's tough," Erickson said. He then mentioned how he doesn't want Carpenter to hear him say these things and eventually get into his head. Erickson then turned, faced Carpenter who was waiting his turn near the entrance, and laughed.
It was then Carpenter's turn to answer questions, and one of the questions was about the fact that the signal caller and the team have had trouble winning games in the state of California. "To be honest with you, I think that the lack of success in California is something everybody else really talks about, I haven't really thought about it until you just mentioned it," Carpenter said.
Carpenter mentioned how he got his first real meaningful playing opportunity at Stanford in 2005. He remembers it well. "The first pass I ever threw in a game that really mattered was intercepted for a touchdown. I'll always remember that," he recalled. "We were down 45-7 and we came back and the final score was 45-35. It was fun for me because it was the first time I got the chance to play and do really well. Obviously we still lost but that's definitely where it all started for me. It's going to be fun going back there this year and hopefully we can get a W."
Coming away with a victory is all Carpenter has on his mind, as well as Coach Erickson. "Coach has been stressing just one game at a time and this week it's just number five," Carpenter stated. "We're really more worried about that than where we are playing or who we are playing." Carpenter mentioned that he doesn't feel a difference between home games and away games except there is a two hour plane ride in between. That is why they are treating this as a "business trip," he said.
After last week's shaky start against Oregon State that included one early interception and a fumble, Carpenter certainly has a lot of business on his mind. "I was a little disappointed in the fumble that we had, I guess they called it a fumble, because that was just a bad decision on my part," he added. "Those are the types of things I really want to get better at and I've been trying to get better at all year. When I make mistakes like that it really does bother me, but I think overall I though I played well, especially against a good defense like Oregon State's."
Carpenter was most pleased that his team was able to come back. He admitted that he was not sure if the Sun Devils could have come back from a 19-point deficit to Oregon State last year. "That's just the difference in the mentalities," Carpenter commented.
So what is the motivating factor for these Sun Devil wins according to Rudy Carpenter?
"I think everyone wants to come back; everyone wants to play hard," he explained. "For me, after I threw that interception, I still felt like we could throw the ball. I threw the interception and came back to the sideline and said to myself I'm still going to try to take the game over. That's how we're going to win because we weren't running the ball. I'm going to take it over myself."
"Once I told myself that I started playing and we started playing well. I don't think there's one person that is the main motivator. I think we all want to do well and win."
The fact that ASU has come out to slow starts is a dead horse beaten to a pulp, but Carpenter commented that "obviously we would like to start out a lot faster and score points on our first drive." He knows that against USC, CAL or UCLA playing from behind is not going to be as easy as it was versus Colorado.
Although starting slow has had its disadvantages for ASU it has also appeared to give Carpenter a comfort level in running a no-huddle offense or a two minute drill scheme. "There are two things that we've done; we've done a two-minute drill or no huddle. I don't know what it is but every time we're in those situations we've put points on the board," Carpenter said. "Whether it's a field goal or a touchdown, the offense just starts clicking and we start playing better. In the third quarter, I think our coaches do a great job of making adjustments at halftime and figuring out what they're doing on defense. We usually come out right away and put up some points."
Carpenter rallied off a series of mandatory compliments about the new Stanford coaching staff that includes Jim Harbaugh. He then added that the Cardinal have a good offense and a good defense, pretty standard stuff. The last thing he left reporters with about Saturday's game was "We better be ready."
If Coach Erickson were listening in on Carpenter during that answer I'm sure he would have nodded with approval.
Confidence, Courage, and California
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