March 1, 2007

Spring Preview: Quarterbacks

In 2005, Arizona State was the only team in the nation to throw for over 4,000 yards with more than one player starting at quarterback. With both Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter set to return the following year, it appeared at the time as though the Sun Devils would have one of the best two-deeps at the position in the country.

That, of course, was before "Keller-gate" and the subsequent shocking season-long struggles with the ASU passing attack that ultimately directly, and ironically, contributed to the replacement of Dirk Koetter as the program's head coach.

After leading the nation in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman, when he completed an astounding 68.4% of his passes, was the only quarterback in the country to have an interception percentage of less than 1%, and went 156-of-228 for 2,273 yards and 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions, Carpenter hit a sophomore slump.

The reasons for the signal caller's production drop off were difficult to precisely pinpoint, though it appeared that ASU struggled to find capable receivers to replace Derek Hagan, Matt Miller and Moey Mutz, and opposing teams were able to key in on the Sun Devils' resulting deficiencies, namely an inability to successfully throw the ball downfield.

Additionally, it was speculated throughout the season that Carpenter was playing with unconfirmed injuries to one or both of his hands -- his non-throwing hand was stepped on by an opposing player versus Colorado -- though he consistently maintained that he was not hurt.

Whatever the case, the 6-foot-2, 207 pound Carpenter appeared to struggle with his accuracy and decision-making through much of the campaign, and he finished 184-of-332 (55.4%) for 2,523 yards with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

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