Monday, October 01, 2007


The O-line is not the issue here, dude.

Photo stolen from

The recently maligned Hell Hogs have taken a lot of flack for the abuse Rudy Carpenter has taken this season, but after rewatching the ASU-Stanford game they deserve less badmouthing than they're getting.

Carpenter was sacked five times in the first half, and two of them came by blitzing Cardinal players that Ryan Torain was in charge of stopping. Torain has been an incredible back this year, but blocking appears to be his weakness. Pass blocking, like basketball defense, is played with the feet and Torain tends to lean out rather than shuffle his feet and move laterally when a pass rusher makes a move to the outside. This affects his leverage, which is key in blocking, not to mention football in general. Torain's leverage is also compromised because of a high pad level, which is a common criticism of his running style. Get low and drive up: it's very basic, leverage 101. DE Dexter Davis' solid play has been attributed to his high school wrestling career and the skills he gained by throwing people around. But enough of throwing one of ASU's best players uder the bus.

Ok, we'll do it a little more. Two of the first half sacks came from blitzing Cardinal players that weren't blocked at all. There's a couple of issues at hand here, and one is very easy: there simply weren't enough bodies to block everyone. This falls on Carpenter for (not) reading the blitz and making an adjustment in the form of a hot route, audible, etc. Carpenter admitted in post game interviews that Stanford blitzed the bejeezus out of him all night, creating confusion for the junior signal caller. The other issue could be that Carpenter is picking up the blitz and making the call but Torain either isn't getting the signal or he's misinterpreting it.

The fifth sack of the first half was a speed rush off the end and the tackle got beat, but these types of things happen sometimes. We can't all be Randall McDaniel.

Still think they're not up too snuff? Well they run block too, and Ryan Torain and Keegan Herring are averaging 5.4 and 6.2 yards per carry, respectively, for an average of 5.7 per carry in meaningful time. That's how Phil Steele judges O-lines, and if he says it then it's gotta be true. Dmitri Nance has been no slouch in mop up time, but since most of the haters are targeting the starters, that's where I looked.

It's still hard to complain. Here ASU sits at 5-0 and ranked 18th nationally, and the offense just dropped 34 points despite several red zone farts. The boys are beating teams soundly and gaining confidence in one another which can only lead to good things. Wazzu's up next, and any team that allows Dizzy Tuitama to throw six TD's (in one night!) shouldn't be that big of a challenge.

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I was at the Stanford game and I second your comments regarding R.Torain and his blocking. He stinks! KH does a much better job of blocking. If RT doesn't get it together on that aspect of his game, he will find himself sitting more than playing.
Carp, also held the ball a little too long on some plays.
While, the sacks can't all be placed on the OL, the remaining games aren't against the bottom half of the conference either. This unit needs to show everyone that they can play as was projected. To date, this unit has been very average.
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