Simplicity Suits Carpenter

Complex offensive schemes have served the Sun Devils well in years past. However, there's no denying that the motto ‘less is more' is being implemented quite well these days in Tempe. ASU signal caller Rudy Carpenter has naturally embraced that approach, which has helped the maroon and gold enjoy an undefeated campaign thus far in 2007.

Keeping it simple and learning by repetition. That's the method of teaching on offense according to Rudy Carpenter, and under the circumstances he feels it's the prudent method to take.

"We have a lot of guys on our team who are smart enough and capable enough to have a whole huge playbook," said Carpenter. "But the hardest thing is that it's a new offense for us. Everyone is still trying to learn the whole concept of the offense. Our game plan doesn't change every week. We're gonna run our stuff and we just got to execute it against certain coverages. Of course we're gonna have things in for every week, but we have our stuff and we're gonna run our stuff. That's what we're gonna do."

On a personal level, simplicity has been emphasized from day one in his conversations with Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "He just told me ‘you're smart. You can do it all. Sometimes although I think you know too much information you don't need to know," Carpenter recalled. "He just gives me plays, does a lot of repetitions, so I can get as many looks as I can with those plays."

The minimalism in the ASU offense, is also manifested through the fact that Carpenter isn't asked to be the savior on each and every down and the load he carries on his shoulders is significantly lighter than 2006. Increased experience at the wide receiver position is probably the biggest contributing factor. "Now we got guys that can play," explained Carpenter. "I don't need to point out every little detail to them. They know who to block on certain plays…so yes, the load is definitely lighter for me. It makes the game easier."

The trust the team has in its head coach and his method of teaching, is vastly based his lofty credentials. At times, as ironic as it seems, the players have felt more under pressure than its coaches. "It's funny because we'd get into certain situations, where we might try to panic…and Coach Erickson will (say) ‘I don't understand what the big deal is.', Carpenter described. "It's genuine too, so you're like ‘yeah, I guess what is the big deal? think about all the games they (the coaching staff) coached combined. I think that's what helped us."

Any coach, including Erickson, will tell you that their words will go in one ear and out of the other if the end result, mainly victories, doesn't materialize as a result of those teachings. "Since the first day Coach Erickson got here. The only thing is really said to us is ‘win.' Everything is ‘just win.'" Carpenter remarked. "At first, I think that was just kind of just a word for everybody. ‘win on three (as the team yells breaking a huddle)' What does that mean? We're in summer conditioning. What are we trying to win?"

"Nothing has changed from the first day he got here until now. It's win and we've been just winning. Not always pretty, not always big, but just winning. I think now guys are really starting to believe that. Sometimes you have to convince yourself that you can win. Learn how to win and you're gonna win games. That's what he has brought here more than anything – teaching us how to win."

When watching old game film from Erickson-coached teams at Miami and Oregon State, Carpenter takes one main theme from those clips and realizes how it applies to this ASU squad. "Some people might think it's bad, but it's the attitude, the swagger about everything. Some people don't like it when you play physical or play rough…but it's a swagger thing," Carpenter stated. "Football is a real emotional game and that's one thing Coach Erickson preaches – be physical and be emotional. Guys are emotional and they respond. That's how I play and that's why I mix with Coach Erickson real well. He allows us to be emotional. He knows that they're things that are gonna happen through a course of a game or a season, but as long as we stay on the right path we will win."

The pragmatic approach by Erickson has contributed to the most considerable difference the ASU quarterback has seen in himself from last season to this one. "The biggest thing is that coaches now let me play," he said. "Coaches say ‘just do what you do. Play football. That's what you do.' I feel that they let me do that. It's kind of hard to change your game and try to adjust what you're doing when you're not used to that. When you do something that it's in your comfort zone, you're gonna play better and do overall better."

Going into a bye week undefeated, will help heal the bumps and bruises that Carpenter has after seven contests. Carpenter knows that the team's record not only keeps moral up, but will make this bye week be a breeze and find a motivated and rejuvenated squad ready to take on its next challenge – a home game against Cal.

Pundits claim that only a win against the Golden Bears will validate, at least for the time being, what these Sun Devils have done and justify their lofty ranking. Fans may occupy their time thinking of it and spend several hours on message boards discussing that topic. The football team on the other hand will put its focus elsewhere.

"That's the funny thing. Nobody on our team has even worried about that stuff," said Carpenter. "We're just worried about trying to every win every game we play, one at a time. We talk about only one game as each week goes by. We have our goals that we set at the beginning of the season, and right now we can say that we're one of a few teams that still have all their goals in tact. That's what we're really more focused on - is us."

"What people say about us or validate our wins…Oregon State, Stanford, Colorado are all good teams. Stanford beat USC, Oregon State beat Cal…the one thing we get out of it the most is that (we know) we really have a chance now. We just keep doing what we're doing, playing hard – we got a chance. It's not like (the team is saying) we're beating these teams, not the upper echelon ones. These guys are beating everyone else too and we're beating them even worse. We got a chance and I think that raises the level of confidence and the hunger to do well."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories