Keller passes Carpenter to win ASU starting QB job

Updated: August 19, 2006, 2:42 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter has chosen senior Sam Keller as the team's starting quarterback for a Aug. 31 opener against Div. I-AA Northern Arizona.

Koetter chose Keller over sophomore Rudy Carpenter, ending one of the most competitive battles in the preseason.

"It was a tough decision, very difficult decision," said Koetter, who informed the players of his decision before the team's scrimmage on Friday night. "We went with the guy we think is the best guy for our situation that we're in right now. We couldn't go wrong. I told you guys that all along. We couldn't make a bad decision. We have two excellent guys.

"It was very close. I was hoping that one guy would clearly outplay the other one. It just didn't happen that way, so we had to do what we had to do."

Keller started for injured Andrew Walter in the 2004 Sun Bowl when he threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns and was named MVP in a 27-23 victory over Purdue. He looked just as spectacular early last season, throwing four touchdowns in each of his first four starts and for more than 300 yards in four of his first six games.

But the Sun Devils lost four of their first seven games, and Keller threw five interceptions in a 38-28 loss to USC. All hope seemed lost when Keller was hurt during a 45-35 loss to Stanford.

Carpenter threw for 2,273 yards and 17 TDs in 2005. But Carpenter, who redshirted in 2004 after playing his senior season at Westlake High in Los Angeles, sparked the Sun Devils to a 4-1 record in their last five games. He threw for 2,273 yards and 17 touchdowns and led the country in pass efficiency (175.01). Carpenter threw only two interceptions in 228 pass attempts and was named MVP in a 45-40 victory over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl after throwing for 467 yards and four touchdowns.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

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