The status of Rudy Carpenter’s tender right thumb could be a game-by-game issue for the rest of the year, coach Dennis Erickson said, but the quarterback should be good to go when Arizona State plays on Thanksgiving night.
An MRI exam showed that no further damage to the thumb was suffered during the Sun Devils’ game at UCLA on Saturday. Carpenter will not throw in practice until Sunday, when the team begins its normal four days of game-week preparation.
The Nov. 22 contest between ninth-ranked ASU and No. 11 Southern California will have Bowl Championship Series implications.
“Rudy is the same as he was. His thumb is swelled and bruised, with a little sprain,” Erickson said on Tuesday. “Only time is going to heal it.”
Carpenter, who initially sprained the thumb against California on Oct. 27, was not made available for comment on Tuesday. He is allowed to speak to media only on Mondays and after games.
The junior aggravated the injury at UCLA when his hand struck a helmet after releasing a pass to slot receiver Kyle Williams for a 9-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Just one hit to the thumb could sideline Carpenter, a cold reality that he and the Sun Devils must deal with for the rest of the season.
“He needs a couple of months to rest and heal,” Erickson said. “Maybe he will be able to rest it in the month between the Arizona game (on Dec. 1) and the bowl game. But he’s getting a week of rest now, which is more than he has had since (the injury).”
On Saturday, Carpenter was 16-of-31 for 200 yards and stayed in the game until missing the Sun Devils’ next-to-last offensive series, when backup Danny Sullivan took over for three plays. He returned for ASU’s next possession and engineered two critical clock-bleeding first downs.
After the game, running back Keegan Herring said of Carpenter: “He’s just unstoppable. He came through and played through pain like that, where I know it is hard to throw the ball, hard to hand off. He’s willing to sacrifice. Rudy’s shown a lot of heart for this team. My hat’s off to him.”
At that point, Herring, wearing a baseball cap, removed it.
Carpenter is hardly the only ASU player — he is not even the only QB — with aches-and-pains issues.
Samson Szakacsy, a true freshman who started the season as the Sun Devils’ No. 3 signal caller, on Tuesday underwent surgery to clean loose tissue from his right elbow. His availability for the start of spring practice is uncertain.
Defensive tackles Michael Marquardt (ankle), David Smith (ankle) and Jon Hargis (shoulder) will not practice this week, but Erickson did not rule any of them out for Thanksgiving.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who normally would practice that we are keeping out with some minor injuries,” Erickson said.
“I would surely be surprised if there is a possibility of someone missing (the USC game). If it’s possible for them to play, I think that they are going to want to.”
In other news, 9,000 tickets remain for the Dec. 1 game against archrival Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium. With each ticket for the California and USC games sold, a capacity crowd for Arizona would give ASU three straight home football sellouts for the first time since 1987.