The season started of with a bang at ASU with a QB controversy right out of blocks. Head coach Dirk Koetter named senior QB Sam Keller to the starting job at the end of fall practice only to change his mind, with the help of sophomore QB Rudy Carpenter and some of Keller's teammates. The end result, without going through all the sorted details, was that Keller transferred to Nebraska and Carpenter has struggled.
ASU started the season with 3 straight wins but has been absolutely owned in losses to Cal and Oregon. Carpenter, who led the nation in passing last year but has struggled to get his groove, and has put ASU 6th in passing in the Pac 10. They are 2nd in rushing in the Pac 10 and they have some good production from junior college transfer Ryan Torain. TE Zach Miller has seen some time at full back and that has been part of the reason why the running game has done so well. Slowing down the run will be key and the SC defensive front needs to get pressure in order to contain plays before they develop.
He got what he wanted...
Until Carpenter gets his confidence back look for ASU to try and establish the run and hold onto the ball. Part of Carpenter's problem has been the inconsistency of his receivers Kimbrough has done some great work but Burgess and Richardson have been shaky and without them performing it will be tough for Carpenter to get back to the level that he was at last year. The secondary will again have to have a strong game and not let Carpenter get in a groove with their passing game. They need to play the receivers tighter and not allow them to get open in the middle on those third and long plays like the UW receivers did last week. Hope fully PC has adjusted the defense in their cover 2 scheme to take those opportunities away.
The SC offense needs a breakout game this week and the ASU secondary is just the opportunity they are looking for. Of course, I said the same thing last week against UW. Turner had a great game last week, and while Booty made some great throws he didn't make more of the big plays that the offense needs to really break a game open. The ASU safeties are pretty good and freshman Ryan McFoy, Chris' brother, will be looking to have a big game against his brother's team even though Chris will sit out the game due to injury. Washington and Moody again need to be consistent running the ball. We saw some great runs by both, especially Washington's 60-yard run that was called back because of a penalty. With Jarrett returning, the deep threat we need should be on the field and hopefully give the ASU secondary fits. Patrick Turner has shown he can step up, now he needs to stay at that level if Steve Smith is unable to go due to injury.
We need to see a lot of this on Saturday!
The SC defense once again needs to have a big game. Sed Ellis and Keith Rivers need to get some major penetration and contain the run. They need to create turnovers and get a few sacks. ASU has relied on the run a lot this season and by containing the run it will force Carpenter to put the ball up and try to get it to his receivers who, as a whole, have had a less than stellar year. Pressure on Carpenter can also result in some turnovers.
ASU has had two weeks off to prepare and they will be looking to get the bad taste out of their mouth that came with the last two losses. SC on the other hand is still looking to get into a comfortable groove. They are capable of so much more than they have shown the over the past few weeks and a convincing win this week will go a long way to getting prepared for the second half of the season as they enter their bye week next week.