A second opinion on Sam Keller’s injured right thumb, given on Friday, indicated that the Arizona State quarterback would have had a longer, more arduous rehabilitation had he delayed surgery until after the season.
Keller is scheduled to undergo surgery in the Valley on Tuesday. An ASU spokesman said that the junior is expected to be available for comment at coach Dirk Koetter’s weekly press conference today.
The damaged ligament in Keller’s thumb will be sewed back together, and four to six months of rehabilitation will follow.
"The hand specialist recommended that Sam not do any more throwing, and if he waited too much longer, there’s a chance they would not be able to heal it by sewing the ligament," Koetter said on Sunday. "They would have to do a graft. From a healing standpoint, sewing is much easier."
Koetter declined to identify the doctor that Keller saw on Friday.
Keller’s first season as a starter ended after seven games, in which he was 155-of-264 for 2,165 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He will likely not be fully recovered in time for spring practice.
Redshirt freshman Rudy Carpenter, who threw for 401 yards in the Sun Devils’ 44-20 win against Washington on Saturday, is the new starter, with graduate student Chad Christensen the second-stringer.
"In the locker room after the game, that’s when it hit Sam hard," Koetter said. "We sung the fight song, and I went over to Sam’s locker, and he was a hurt puppy. Sam is a competitor, and he wanted to play out the season, even if it was as a backup."
Guard Stephen Berg’s left knee injury is not as serious as ASU feared, though he will not play in Saturday’s contest at Washington State. Berg has a medial collateral ligament sprain, and Koetter said he hopes the junior can return sometime this season.
Center Grayling Love (foot) and guard Leo Talavou (elbow) are scheduled to be evaluated today. Tackle Andrew Carnahan will have the pin taken out of his thumb and is expected to practice on Tuesday.
"A lot will happen before we practice Tuesday, and a lot of guys have to see the doctor," Koetter said.
Tight end Jamaal Lewis, who has been out with a shoulder separation, is questionable for Saturday. So is backup receiver Moey Mutz, who hurt his shoulder against Washington. Tailback Keegan Herring has a knee tendon strain but is expected to be OK.
Maurice London had been a starting safety until Saturday, when he did not play. Former cornerback Josh Golden filled the position and earned rave reviews.
Asked if there is a reason London did not leave the bench, Koetter said, "Yes, there is a reason." He would not elaborate, but said that London will return this week.
Josh Barrett, a projected starting safety before Zach Catanese won the job during preseason camp, will probably get a look at cornerback in practice, Koetter said.
Though Jesse Ainsworth did well as the punter against Washington, Koetter said that Chris MacDonald could get the job back before the season ends. . . .
With the versatile Christensen, a Desert Mountain High product, now the backup quarterback, his action at other positions — he has played tailback and wide receiver — will be very limited. . . .
Saturday’s game balls were given to Carpenter (offense), Golden (defense) and Terry Richardson (special teams).