Carpenter Calm, Focused For USC Showdown

This week ASU faces its toughest challenge yet hosting USC on Thanksgiving night. The Trojans have more experience on the national stage, but Carpenter, and the rest of the Sun Devil squad, looks to Erickson for guidance on how to deal with a game carrying such an enormous magnitude.

"Coach Erickson talks about it all the time, how he has been able to be a part of big games like national championships, BCS games and games where highly ranked opponents are playing each other and the magnitude, intensity and emotion of those games," said Carpenter. "It's even better knowing that you have a coach who has been there and done that in all of those situations. We really rely on him and count on him to prepare us for those situations."

USC boasts the best defense ASU has seen thus far in 2007, including a few first round NFL draft choices. "Up front, they are very good. They have a good defensive line, based with Cedric Ellis and Lawrence Jackson, who are both gifted players and then obviously the local kid… Everson Griffin is another great player for them who plays a lot," stated Carpenter, who grew up with some of the USC players. "Two of the four up front could be All-Americans, so it is going to be a huge week for our offensive line and a huge challenge for those guys to see how well we can protect and run the ball against probably the best defensive line in the country."

This Thanksgiving game marks a big change in the routine of Carpenter who said he is used to watching other teams battle it out with his family on turkey day. "This is the first Thanksgiving since I've been here that my whole family will be out here," he commented, "and I'll get a chance to spend some time with them Wednesday before the game and obviously Thursday and Friday, so I look forward to that."

"It's one of those things where you watch all the games on TV and kind of hope and wish to have a chance to play in a big game like that. Fortunately for us we're going to have a chance to be the national game on TV that day and play in front of the U.S. It's going to be a lot of fun and we look forward to it."

Carpenter mentioned his throwing thumb is feeling better and that he was glad to take the bandages off and start taking snaps in practice again. "It was good to be back at practice," he remarked. "I felt kind of worthless last week not doing anything so it feels good to play football again and be with my teammates and throw the ball around."

Carpenter talked about how his practice habits haven't changed from week to week, and Erickson backed him up on that as well. But there might be other pressure for Carpenter besides playing a ranked opponent, playing on national television and playing on Thanksgiving. He has friends on the USC team.

"Well this week I don't have any," Carpenter laughed about friends on USC. "I played with a couple kids in high school, pretty much their whole recruiting class was my year. We playing in the same All-Star games together and a couple kids on that team we played on the same high school team together," he added.

While for ASU fans this turkey day game could mean Rose Bowl or none, for Carpenter it is work as usual. "As for me, it's the same, every single week is the same; it's just a game for me."

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