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October 6, 2008Quarterback Rudy Carpenter's iron-man streak of 36 consecutive starts for the Arizona State football team is in serious jeopardy.
The senior signal caller suffered a sprain to a non-weight-bearing projection of a bone in his left ankle early in the fourth quarter of ASU's 24-14 loss at Cal.
Carpenter continued to play Saturday, but his status for the Sun Devils' upcoming game at USC is up in the air.
"We have to see how he moves out there [in practice]," Coach Dennis Erickson said. "We won't know anything about that until time goes on. It's a point that really doesn't even need to be discussed until we see how he progresses the next three days."
Carpenter limped into his weekly press conference Monday with his left foot in a walking boot.
He said he would try to practice this week and that he doesn't know much about his injured ankle.
"I really have no idea what's going to happen this whole week and as far as the game on Saturday," Carpenter said. "I have no information about my injury."
But Carpenter is a competitor. He wants to get out there and play Saturday.
He said that in his mind, as long as he can walk, he can play.
"I just want to play," Carpenter said. "I feel like I can walk right now so I feel like I can play. But realistically, we'll have to take it day-by-day during the week in practice."
Erickson said doctors have not yet cleared Carpenter and that he will not start Carpenter Saturday unless he is close to 100-percent.
"I'm not going to put him on the field unless he has to ability to move and throw," Erickson said. "If he can't go pretty close to full speed, like I said, I'm not going to put him out there. That's why we have backup players."
And Carpenter agreed with his coach.
Carpenter has confidence that Erickson will start whoever he feels gives the team the best chance to win.
Carpenter just hopes that even with his injury, that person is him.
"I don't think it's fair to the guys on our team who work really hard to put me out there if I can't give them the best opportunity to win," Carpenter said. "If Coach E thinks I can give them the best opportunity to win then I think he'll let me play. If he feels that I can't then I think he'd be doing the right thing by putting in the best guy to play."
If Carpenter is unable to play Saturday, junior Danny Sullivan will start for ASU.
In his more than two-year career, Sullivan is yet to start a game. On the season, he is 1-for-8 for minus-1 yards.
Erickson has full confidence in Sullivan and said that he is one of the most prepared backup quarterbacks he has ever coached.
"He's a very competitive guy," Erickson said of Sullivan. "He's knows what we're doing so [if he starts Saturday] he'll do a good job.
"He's pretty physical. He's big and he's got a very strong arm. His feet have really improved ever since I've been here. But probably more than anything he really understands [ASU's offense]."
But The Coliseum is a tough place for an opposing quarterback, especially one who is making his first career start.
If Sullivan does start Saturday, Carpenter thinks his replacement will do just fine.
"Danny is a good player," Carpenter said. "He's got a strong arm. He makes good decisions and he's been here for a little while so I think if he's given an opportunity that he'll do well."
Regardless of who starts Saturday, ASU will game plan pretty much the same way.
Erickson said Carpenter and Sullivan do pretty much the same things and that his strategy will be the same no matter who is lining up under center.
And that means ASU will continue to try to run the football.
Against Cal, the Sun Devils rushed the ball 32 times for a net of 71 yards.
The lack of success on the ground game is something that is bothering the whole team and Carpenter said the team needs to execute better in all facets of the offense.
He just doesn't know how to accomplish that.
"On offense we haven't been executing the way we should be," he said. "We haven't been completing passes. We haven't been making big plays or whatever it may be so I'm like you guys, I'm trying to find the answer and I can't give you an answer because I don't know. If I knew, the score would have been a lot different on Saturday."