After rushing for 210 yards last week in a win over Oregon State, Stanford (1-1, 1-1 Pac-10) amassed only 113 yards on Saturday night. Arizona State (2-0, 1-0) was able not only to punish the visitors in the passing game, but also outgain Stanford on the ground and collect 127 yards.
Nonetheless, the Sun Devils offensive machine took a little time to get cranked up.
In its first two possessions the maroon and gold drove inside their opponent's 5-yard line, but had to settle for two Thomas Weber field goals. Sandwiched between those scores, was an 80-yard drive by the Cardinal where signal caller Tavita Pritchard went 5-5 for 69 yards (after registering 91 passing yards the entire Oregon State game), which ended with a 5-yard run by Toby Gerhart.
"I think we were a little too excited," said defensive end Dexter Davis on ASU's defensive performance to start the game. "Some of the guys, me in particular, got winded real quick. We were really amped to play because we knew it would be a battle."
"Once we calmed down, thing starting going better for us."
The Sun Devil defense yielded just three points in the second quarter, while the offense came alive in that same stanza. Carpenter threw two of his touchdowns passes (Mike Jones for 11 yards and Kerry Taylor for 45) in that period, and despite an interception by the senior Sun Devil quarterback, the hosts went down to the locker holding a 20-10 edge.
In the second half, it was Stanford's turn to sputter on offense.
The Cardinal's first possession ended with a Gerald Munns (ASU's leading tackler with seven stops) interception of Pritchard, and culminated with a one-yard scamper for a score by Dimitri Nance on ASU's first possession of the second half. A sack on Carpenter causes a fumble recovered by Stanford and Gerhart scores a touchdown in what would be the visitors' last points of the game.
ASU answered in the ensuing possession with a 2-yard TD catch by tight end Dan Knapp, and Pritchard's second pick (courtesy of Troy Nolan) leads to Keegan Herring score from one yard out. Another ASU interception, this time by Terell Carr, sealed the fourth quarter shutout and 1-0 start for the Sun Devils in Pac-10 play.
"I am feeling comfortable and obviously our passing game is one of our strengths," said Carpenter. "I don't want to sound negative but, it was a good win, I was a little disappointed in how I played. I called a couple plays wrong and threw an interception, and that was a terrible interception. It was good to put those points up, but we have to get rid of those turnovers."
"Since the beginning of the season Coach Erickson has been preaching to take one game and one day at a time," Carpenter noted. "We're just going to keep on going with that. I know we have UNLV next week and it's going to be tough. We have to get through that one before anything else."