He has not played quarterback in a game in three years — and had not even taken a snap in practice before Tuesday — but Chad Christensen is confident he can lead the Arizona State offense if need be.
With the season-ending thumb injury to starter Sam Keller, Christensen, who came to ASU as a QB but was moved to running back and receiver, has been tabbed by coach Dirk Koetter as Rudy Carpenter’s backup.
"If I had to go in there, I would feel very comfortable," said Christensen, a graduate student and Desert Mountain High product. "I’ve been around the block here and seen a few games, so I have an idea of what we are trying to accomplish in this offense."
Christensen played quarterback in eight games in 2002 — starting the first four games of that year — and completed 27-of-64 passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Andrew Walter took the starting duties from him and went on to become the school’s alltime leading passer.
"Chad is going to be spending most of his time at quarterback from here on out," Koetter said. "Chad knows our offense well, and I’m confident in what he can do."
On Tuesday, Christensen — wearing an orange (noncontact) jersey — also worked at his inside receiver spot. But his game action there figures to be very limited.
"It’s a trade-off," Christensen said. "The quarterback in this offense is very important, so we have to have someone who is ready to go. I’m going to have to lay off other positions to concentrate on that, but if that helps the team, I’m ready to do it."
Tackle Andrew Carnahan — wearing a large cast to protect his thumb — practiced on Tuesday and is eager to provide reinforcement for an offensive line that desperately needs it.
Carnahan will be fitted for a new cast daily, trying to find a fit that gives the necessary armor with the most comfort. He feels he will be able to play at Washington State on Saturday.
"It will take getting used to, having this club on my hand," Carnahan said. "It hurts a little every now and again. Take some getting used to, but it will be fine."
Guard Leo Talavou (elbow) also worked out on Tuesday, as did running back Keegan Herring (knee).
Koetter said a practice objective this week will be developing a rotation that keeps the defensive linemen fresher.
"After looking at tape, we need to do a better job of rotating those guys," Koetter said. "I think a couple of them are wearing down a bit."
The starters are ends Kyle Caldwell and Quency Darley and tackles Jordan Hill and DeWayne Hollyfield. Mike Talbot, Will Kofe, Shannon Jones and David Smith are the primary backups.