Sunday, September 09, 2007


Uh, hooray?

At least Troy Nolan is excited.

Meh. For the second year in a row Arizona State stays undefeated in OOC play by defeating a hapless Colorado team in lackluster fashion. Rudy Carpenter threw a pick-6 in the opening series and the defensive secondary created a pile of those oh shit moments but were underexposed by a Colorado receiving corps that couldn't catch crabs from a 10-peso Tucson hooker.** Freshman QB Cody Hawkins looked stunning for a kid making his second career start, but perfect passes in stride were literally going through his WR's hands. The score could have easily been 28-0 before the ASU offense came to life in the second quarter.

Despite the secondary getting beaten several times, the front seven looked solid and they were especially stout against the run only allowing 37 yards on the ground. The newfound depth in the D-line rotation kept legs fresh, but the primary concern for this group is that they were unable to establish a lot of pressure on the quarterback when only rushing four. Many conference QBs would have picked apart the secondary with that much time in the pocket.

Everyone in Tempe has gone totally gay for Ryan Torain, even CU defender Alonzo Barrett. How is there a hands to the face penalty but nothing covering this? The Train racked up 91 yards on 17 carries, and while it pales in comparison to last week's numbers he recovered well from a slow start and a slight injury to propel the team through a medium-hot second and third quarter.

The line play of the Hell Hogs in front of Torain was up and down, and it appeared that they are beginning to take on the streaky nature of QB Rudy Carpenter: they play well when things are going good, but there's something lacking when things go south. Once things got going on offense, huge holes were opening up but the same can't be said for the first quarter. This could also be attributed to the thin Colorado D-lne and the 100-degree heat, but one thing is for sure- this position group needs the Koetter kicked out of them. A senior group like this one needs poise and confidence on every play.

One of the O-line's better moments as captured by

QB Rudy Carpenter sprayed passes on Saturday night and was only one pass over a 50% completion rate on the evening, but these weren't poorly executed dink and dunk passes. With the exception of one 6-yard screen pass to Torain, the shortest pass completion was for 16 yards, and that was a fourth and one toss to Nate Kimbrough. The receivers deserve a lot of the credit for catching balls thrown behind and above them on many ocasions. The night's biggest huzzah goes to Kyle Williams for his only catch, a 22-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone to end the first half. There were four to six defenders surrounding him and Carpenter put the ball in the one place that Williams and no one else could reach it. I was impressed with the placement and decision of the pass until I read Carp's post-game thoughts on the matter:
That was an unbelievable, unbelievable catch. It was late in the half so I figured whatever, if it is an interception they're not going to get much, I might as well take a chance for the end zone.
Jeebus Cripes. WR Mike Jones had a pretty good view of the play from the field, here's what he had to say:
I saw four guys on Kyle [Williams] and I saw the ball go up in the air. I was like, `Oh my God.' Then I just saw the ball stick in Kyle's hands. I was like, `Wow, we scored.'

Scary, yet effective. (photo credit:

I'll be crucified somewhere for saying this, but Carpenter's tuck and run ability looked Plummer-esque last night. Scrambling around trying to make a play was a big no-no under Koetter even though that's the trait that Dirk originally noticed in Rudy, but it suits his natural instincts and abilities well. He knows how to carry the ball when he takes off and I wasn't once concerned about a fumble.

Erickson's system also caters to Rudy's talents through the use of the shotgun, another Koetter no-no that was surprisingly used in Jacksonville today. While Carpenter was shaky and out of sorts in the first quarter, he looked like the brilliant 2005 Rudy during the no-huddle drive to end the first half, making quick reads and dissecting the Buff defense without out-thinking himself. Was the no-huddle applied in reaction to his slow start? Perhaps, and if it was then Coach Erickson deserves heaping praise for knowing his players and understanding how to manage them.

The man can read minds!

Coach Erickson wasn't the only Sun Devil coach in attendance as hoops head man Herb Sendek took in the game from the student section where he was handing out headbands to the sweaty undergrads. This was his second game in a row hanging with the kids, and last week he was seen meeting and greeting in the student wristband line where he sprayed the sun and beer soaked students with a water gun. When asked why he didn't bring it this week, he said that security wouldn't let him bring it inside the stadium. Good to see Herb cultivating a grassroots following for ASU basketball, which is how it will have to be done in the already crowded valley sports market.

The chicken little sky is falling response has been that this team is no more disciplined than they were under Koetter after tracking up 136 penalty yards. Judging by Erickson's body language and halftime comments the players responsible for the careless penalties will be dealt with, like running wind sprints until they're blue in the face. DE knows what his legacy and reputation have become and I believe he wants to change that. Players that headed to the sideline after committing the infractions got an earful from Erickson and other coaches. I don't think this will be tolerated for very long, and remember that there were only four penalties against SJSU just a week ago.

I hate to sound so doom and gloom because it was a Sun Devil victory and a convincing one; it's a game that the coaches can point to and say "this is what happens when you take a team lightly, this is what NOT to do." Despite the inconsistencies in some areas the team is leaps and bounds better than the 2006 squad. The defense has given up one touchdown in eight quarters of play, Torain is averaging over 100 yards per game, the receivers are catching balls that would have been drops last year, and Carpenter's TD-INT ratio is 5-1. Will the schedule get tougher? Absolutely, but the team will also improve as time goes on. Of the weaknesses exposed against Colorado, all of them are correctable. It's still probably better that the east coast writers and coaches went to bed before watching the ASU game, because the final score was more impressive than the actual game.

**- on a side note, Florida State's DeCody Fagg might be the worst receiver in D-1 football. Next week's CU-FSU matchup in Denver should be a clinic in drops and fumbles.

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