When Rudy Carpenter awoke on Friday morning, he hardly looked — and sounded — like someone who would quarterback the Arizona State football team to victory later in the day.
The redshirt freshman, who had been suffering from strep throat, barely was able to talk as the Sun Devils went through their final preparations at the team hotel.
How in the world would he be able to call signals inside a crowded Sun Devil Stadium?
“I was trying to drink a lot of tea for my voice to get OK so my teammates could hear me,” Carpenter said afterward, his voice hoarse.
Carpenter managed to be loud enough to do his job, but — after being superb in his first three starts — he was not sharp in the first half, missing receivers and guiding the offense to only a field goal.
Coach Dirk Koetter said his voice became the least of Carpenter’s problems.
“He took a hard shot on the shoulder,” Koetter said. “I could tell by the look on his face that he was hurting. Rudy is a tough dude, but I know that shoulder was bothering him.”
Still, Carpenter did throw for 246 yards and was 3-for-4 on the drive that led to ASU’s game-winning field goal.
That meant his indoctrination to the Territorial Cup rivalry was a success.
“I didn’t really know how important this rivalry was until I was down on the field and saw all the excitement,” Carpenter said.
“I can’t wait for the next three years.”
In the Sun Devils’ 34-27 loss last year in Tucson, their last gasp in Arizona territory ended when wide receiver Matt Miller dropped a fourthdown pass that would have extended the drive. Miller carried that yoke for 12 months, and his redemption came on Friday.
In his final game at Sun Devil Stadium, the Mountain View High graduate had two catches, including a 26-yard reception on the first play of the Sun Devils’ winning drive.
“I had a lot of revenge on my mind going in,” Miller said. “All I have to say is, ‘How do you like me now?’ It’s been on my mind for a year, and I wanted to finish out strong.”
ASU middle linebacker Dale Robinson had not practiced much since injuring his foot at UCLA on Nov. 12, and he saw limited action early in Friday’s game. Eventually, the senior played through the discomfort.
It was not physical pain, however, that gave Robinson the most trouble. He had a quick trigger at times, getting flagged for three offsides penalties.
“Sometimes they drew me offside, and another time, I lined up wrong,” Robinson said. “That was my fault. I didn’t know what I was thinking out there, but that was all my fault.”
Keegan Herring’s emergence at UCLA suggested that he would start getting the bulk of the tailback work, and sure enough, the freshman started on Friday.
But when ASU needed the tough yardage later in the game, it turned back to Rudy Burgess, who had 86 yards on 15 carries. Forty-three of the yards came on the Sun Devils’ final drive.
“I knew I’d eventually get my chance,” Burgess said. “When it came, I had to give it my all to send us out on a bang.”
The Sun Devils made some personnel changes on defense, most notably moving Josh Golden back to cornerback. He had played the previous three games at safety. Defensive coordinator Bill Miller indicated that Golden struggled at safety at UCLA. Josh Barrett started at Golden’s vacated safety spot, and Will Kofe was at defensive end in place of Quency Darley. . . .
Defensive lineman DeWayne Hollyfield had his first career interception in the fourth quarter. He tried to advance the ball but was tackled. “I wasn’t thinking about just going down,” the 275-pound Hollyfield said, chuckling. “I was thinking about a touchdown.”