Rudy Carpenter is more game manager than gunslinger, and that suited Arizona State just fine on Saturday. Carpenter completed 14-of-15 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown and ran for 31 yards in the Sun Devils’ 38-3 homecoming win over Stanford.
He even punted, though the kick wound up rolling into the end zone for a touchback.
“Nothing flashy, but that’s what Rudy did last year,” ASU coach Dirk Koetter said. “He managed the game. He didn’t make mistakes. He made the plays that were there. . . .
“I think this was easily Rudy’s best game of the season.”
Carpenter was solid in the passing game — he completed his first 12 passes — and he did plenty of damage with his legs, rushing for positive yardage five times for 49 yards. (He was sacked twice for a loss of 18 yards.)
His willingness to take off with the ball meant that he missed possible opportunities for big plays down the field. But it kept the offense moving in the right direction.
“If I miss some open guys I miss some open guys, but I’m going to try to make sure every play is a positive play,” Carpenter said. “We’re not losing yards. That’s why sometimes I make up my mind so quick to run it. It’s been effective too, so I’m going to keep doing it.”
In ASU’s first five games, Carpenter ran for positive yardage 17 times for 102 yards. (He was sacked 14 times for 76 yards to bring his rushing total in those games to 48 yards on 31 carries.)
Taking away two sacks that cost him 12 rushing yards last week against Southern California, Carpenter rushed for 61 yards on six carries against the Trojans. He was sacked twice by Stanford but rushed for positive yardage five times for 49 yards.
Several of the runs resulted in first downs.
“Rudy’s totally got the green light,” Koetter said. “Every time he’s running I’m screaming, ‘Get down! Get down! Get down!’ But Rudy has really done a nice job the last two weeks making good decisions in the running game.”
Carpenter also made good decisions in the passing game, though he was quick to point out that, “We’re not really throwing the ball too far down the field.”
He didn’t throw an interception for the second consecutive game and he threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to running back Ryan Torain after changing the play at the line. He also managed to get his wide receivers more involved against the weak Cardinal defense than he did against USC.
He hit his receivers six times for 79 yards.
“He can run, but he can pass, too,” said receiver Nate Kimbrough, who caught three passes for 42 yards. “Rudy goes everywhere. You’ve got to be on your toes when Rudy’s playing quarterback.”