November 5, 2007

Oregon Report Card

After building a reputation nationally for digging itself out of double-digit deficits, the No. 4 BCS ranked Arizona State football team was unable to live up its status against a talented No. 4 ranked Oregon Ducks squad, falling 35-23 in front of a hostile capacity crowd at Autzen Stadium.

Behind 21-3 in the first half, the Sun Devils dug themselves out of an early hole, responding with 13 unanswered points of their own. But it wasn't enough as ASU lost the chance of escaping with a road victory with two costly turnovers in the fourth quarter. It was a game in which the Sun Devils needed their best performance to stay undefeated, and a few mistakes by several position groups, as well as a coaching blunder cost the team in the end. Here's how each position group graded out.

Quarterback:

Battling a sprained thumb that limited his reps this week at practice, junior Rudy Carpenter gave a gutsy performance against the Ducks throwing for 379 yards and two touchdowns. Despite apparently re-injuring his thumb while being sacked on one of nine different occasions, Carpenter was able to throw for more yards than in any prior game this season. His reluctance to get rid of the ball, and his tendency to accept sacks too easily at times were the noticeable flaws in what could have been a truly remarkable performance.

Carpenter simply took too many sacks, and on several occasions he was unable to adjust to the obvious blitzes. Whether that is entirely his fault, or simply partially his fault is unclear. It's hard to know whether there were built in mechanisms in the gameplan designed to deal with this type of pressure, but if there were, they were largely ineffective.

The interception Carpenter threw late in the game was a mistake, as he tried to force a ball to a receiver who was freelancing after the conclusion of his route. It was too risky a gamble, in a situation that required Carpenter to throw the ball away and move on to the next play. Carpenter showed that he is a tough quarterback, but once gain some of his decision-making especially towards the end of the game was a bit shaky. In his biggest career start, Carpenter will earn a B-.

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