Carpenter, Erickson, Share Same Ambition

Monday afternoon, at ASU's press conference theatre, Coach Erickson and signal caller Carpenter said that anything can happen on any given Saturday in the PAC 10. They both said that they were happy with their performance at WSU, but that they have their minds focused on Washington this Saturday in Tempe.

"Any win in the Pac 10 is hard to come by, especially up there in Pullman. It's a hard place to play," Carpenter said to cameras, reporters and writers Monday afternoon. "I think everyone saw this week that anyone can beat anyone, with Stanford beating USC," Carpenter added.

" Like I've said a few times, I think those wins that we had at home early in the year against Colorado and Oregon State when we were down is a huge advantage to us coming into the later part of the season, especially with Washington State. It was a big win for us and we're just happy to be 6-0."

6-0 is certainly a great way for any team to finish its first half of the season, nonetheless an ASU team that has faced so much adversity in the courts of public opinion. Coach Erickson doesn't let his players or himself listen to anyone but well, Coach Erickson.

"Lots of people, as I've said before, have gone up there and not come out successful," Erickson said. "We didn't play our best game by any means, but then again, that was part because of them." Even though the Cougars gave the Sun Devils hell, they were resilient enough to keep their heads on straight and come back to Tempe with another W.

"(The resiliency) comes from leadership within," Erickson said. "You try to set the tone as a coaching staff, try to instill confidence that they're doing the right thing and that we're doing the right thing, but then you've got to have some good things happen with that resiliency, and we've been fortunate enough to have that happen."

The senior class at ASU has done a great job of stepping up according to Erickson, who has a perfect record at ASU thus far. "We've got awfully good seniors that have been successful that are pretty darn good leaders for us, and that helps," Erickson said. "It doesn't have to be seniors either, but we do have good leadership on our football team," He added.

Junior, Rudy Carpenter, is certainly one of those leaders that Erickson is talking about. "I think it's two places," Carpenter said about where the team's resilience is coming from. "I think the leadership of our team because we have a lot of seniors on our team who have been here a lot and played a lot of games. They know that the games are four quarters long and you just have to play the whole 60 minutes."

"I think the coaching staff is probably the biggest difference maker right now," said Carpenter of the second reason for the team's resiliency. "They bring a little bit of a different attitude to the team and I think they keep the confidence level up in the players."

Keeping the confidence down in a team that is 6-0 is sometimes harder than keeping it up, but for the Sun Devil's locker room there appears to be a high level of maturity spreading around, according to Carpenter.

"I think (being undefeated) just makes the guys on our team hungrier to keep working hard and keep practicing hard because we know we have a legitimate chance to accomplish the goals we set earlier in the year," Carpenter said.

How high those goals are Carpenter did not share, but he did make a good comparison between now and last year.

"Whereas in prior years, by this time, we were kind of already out of the goals we had set for ourselves at the end of the year," Carpenter added. "So, I think it makes the locker room a more positive place and guys are wanting to go after the goals we set at the beginning of the year."

Coach Erickson is in tune with Carpenter on goal setting, and his goal right now is to know more about the University of Washington football them than they do. "They're a good football team. Tyrone's obviously a good coach, does a great job," Erickson said. "They're a very disciplined football team. I know their coaching staff very well. I guess, as many years as I've been it, you know about all of those coaching staffs pretty well."

U of W quarterback Jake Locker is going to be the toughest opponent ASU has seen yet. Because of its favorable schedule, ASU keeps getting harder and harder opponents.

"I watched Jake when he was in high school. The thing about Jake is not only is he a good quarterback and good person, but he gives you so much trouble because of how versatile he is," Erickson said. "He's big. He's fast. He can run. He can do all the things that are really necessary to be successful at quarterback," he added. "He's young, but he's 230 pounds and he gives you that other element of scrambling and doing the things that are very necessary to be successful. They'll put him back in the shotgun and run some of that spread stuff. He's a problem. He really is a problem that we're going to have to deal with him."

Locker will be a weapon against the Devils, but they have a weapon of their own who has been performing in fifth gear as well – running back Ryan Torain.

"Ryan is a great runner for us and he is so strong physically and so well conditioned that towards the end of the game when the other team starts to get tired and people start to wear down, Ryan is still going at 100 percent," Carpenter said about the Devil's leading rusher. "We need that from Torain because he is a bruising back, and he runs very hard, and we need him to take over games like that at the end. Especially when we come to this part of the schedule when we play some really good teams. Hopefully we can continue to get that out of Torain. And he is healthy this week."

"They're a real solid football team," Erickson said again of ASU's upcoming opponent. "As I've said many times, you can take, (the PAC 10 teams), fling us all up, and you just never know what's going to happen, on any given Saturday. That's been proven time and time again in this league. Again, if you're not ready to play, if you're not prepared, if you turn it over, or if you make errors, then you're going to lose a football game."

At this point Carpenter knows what it means to get his team ready to play. "Washington played against some good competition this year like Boise State, Ohio State, and USC, so we have to be ready to play against these guys," Carpenter said. "Our preparation starts today."

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