Bulldogs Stymie ASU's Passing Offense

After suffering a shocking loss at the hands of UNLV the Arizona State Sun Devils took the field with a chance to atone against the number three-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the game went as many predicted. Despite completing 65 percent of his passes for over 200 yards, Rudy Carpenter and the Sun Devils' offense struggled to find consistency moving the ball.

"It just felt like we were throwing it a lot," stated Carpenter. "We were doing good in the early part of the game but we just didn't execute. We didn't convert. We didn't have any big plays really go our way."

Although Carpenter shouldered much of the blame, more ire deserves to be laid upon the running game which amassed only four net yards the entire game, the fewest for any Sun Devil team since rushing for minus two against Cal in 2002.

With senior running back Keegan Herring out with a hamstring injury junior Dimitri Nance got the nod and was ineffective collecting only twelve yards on ten carries. The non-existent running game enabled Georgia to leave fewer defenders in the box and to focus more on the passing game.

"Our game plan coming in was to throw the ball so we expected to throw it and try and throw it a lot," Carpenter noted. "But we're going to get played that way all year if we don't run it better because UNLV played cover two the whole game and Georgia played cover two almost every single snap dropping eight."

"When they didn't drop eight they got pressure," Observed Carpenter. "We have to do better but besides all that we have to do a better job of making bigger plays in the pass game."

In the week leading up to tonight's contest, much was made about the speed and talent possessed by Georgia and perhaps a disparity in the level of talent between the Sun Devils and the Bulldogs. While it appeared on the field that the Bulldogs did hold an advantage in athleticism, Carpenter was not ready to admit that inferior talent was the reason for Sun Devil's 27-10 defeat.

"I can't say (that Georgia was more talented than the Sun Devils)," said Carpenter. "I look around the country and I see Boise State beat Oregon, I see North Carolina State today beat Eastern Carolina. We have to find a way to just make big plays on special teams, on offense, on defense and until we can do that we're not going to be able to beat (the best teams in the country)."

"Georgia came out on offense and had some huge plays. For us on offense we couldn't match those big plays. We have to find a way and that's really on the players to do that."

A big turning point in the game came late in the second half with the Sun Devils driving deep into Georgia territory. After reaching the Bulldogs' ten-yard line the drive stalled and Arizona State had to settle for a field goal making the score 14-3 in favor of Georgia with 2:38 left in the half. Had the Devils been able to come away with a touchdown the makeup of the game could have been entirely different.

"The thing about these games, (with) great atmosphere, they're all about momentum," said Carpenter. "When you drive down (to the red zone) and you can't score touchdowns, even though you get a field goal, it deflates you. It takes the air out of you. It takes the momentum out because you're not scoring touchdowns."

"That's been our story all year. We get down there, we drive, and we can't score touchdowns. The coaches can only call the plays, we have to execute and get the ball into the end zone. It's simple. "

With the passing yardage Carpenter accrued against the Bulldogs his career total went up past 9,000 yards (9,181) and he moved into second place in school history and 12th all-time in the Pac-10.


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