Carpenter determined, focused on beating UA

In his last weekly press conference senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter talked about this weekend's rivalry game with Arizona, the 2008 season and his career as a Sun Devil.

The last four years for Sun Devil football fans has been a wild ride full of ups and downs and no one knows this to be truer than the guy who started at quarterback almost every game over that stretch, Rudy Carpenter.

The senior has been leading the Sun Devils ever since ex-Sun Devil Sam Keller went down midway through 2005 and has defeated the University of Arizona the previous three times he has faced them.

"It would be a big accomplishment (to go 4-0 vs. Arizona)," remarked Carpenter. "I would like to say that playing against U of A is just another game were trying to win but that's not the case. When you come to ASU playing U of A is a big deal and winning is a big deal and I've been fortunate to be part of three teams that won the previous three years.

"But I was also a part of a team that lost my true freshman year so I know what that can be like, especially when I watched a lot of those seniors play down there and lose their final game to them. We don't want that to be us."

The signal caller also thinks that despite both teams struggling some this year that the importance of this game is not diminished.

"I think it has kind of been like this the whole time I've been here except for last year," admitted Carpenter. "It's obviously still a huge game. It's a big rivalry game and for the guys who are seniors it's a big deal for us to win our last game and also leave saying we never lost to them. It's going to be a pretty hard thing to do."

In the Sun Devils' last game against the UCLA Bruins the offense was miserable and hardly moved the ball the entire contest. While the performance was frustrating Carpenter believes that the offense can bounce back and have a big game in the final contest of the regular season.

"It's always like one thing that happens on every play whether it's an overthrow or a bad throw or a drop or missed blocking assignments or whatever it may be it's just something," described Carpenter. "It's very rare we have plays that go according to plan and that has been the frustrating thing this year.

"We haven't been able to get things going in a consistent way. We've never been able to get a run game going or get a passing game going or anything. When we do score it's on a big play or we just go three and out. We have one more opportunity to turn things around and I think we are due for something good to go our way so hopefully it can be this weekend."

The veteran quarterback also stood up and defended the much maligned ASU offensive line.

"We've started a lot of people who have had minimal to no game experience," said Carpenter, "and that's why it's frustrating for me when people get on the guys on our team because we've started 8 or 9 different offensive lineman this year. I think we had 26 combined starts between all of them going into this season.

"We started a redshirt freshman at tackle. That's a hard thing to do. You have to give that guy credit for stepping in against Georgia and teams like that. To just come in and play well is hard. Jon Hargis was on the defensive line last year and is now playing one of the hardest positions in football. Then you ask Shawn Lauvao to move out to play tackle which he's never played before. You have (center) Thomas Altieri who's never started before. You have Garth Gerhart who is our backup center and he's asked to play guard.

"You don't see any other positions where, ‘you're a running back we're going to put you at wide receiver next week,' It's the same. It's pretty hard to do. We've had struggles but there are reasons for it. I think it's commendable and I'm proud to play with those guys because I know they give their best effort every single week."

Despite a winning record, gaudy numbers and never losing to the rival Wildcats, Carpenter never really found a comfortable place with Sun Devil fans and media. The quarterback has been a figure polarizing amongst the two groups but has also shared and helped to create some special moments for the Arizona State faithful.

"There were times where I thought this was never going to end," acknowledged Carpenter, "and I was like ‘Man, this is pretty hard.' Now that it's at the end and I look back I kind of feel like where did time go? Where did all these games go? Sometimes I look back and I say ‘man I wish that I had some of these games back that we could have won or could have done things differently'. In that grand scheme of things it has gone really fast and has been a good experience here for me."


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