Thursday, September 18, 2008

Q&A with Pitchfork Nation's Justin Karp

Justin Karp is a regular contributor to the finest Arizona State themed blog that we've been able to find in these here Internets, Pitchfork Nation. He also serves as Assistant Program Director for KDUS, The Fan 1060 AM in Tempe, AZ. We were able to track Justin down with a few questions about the Arizona State program and about some current and former Sun Devil stars. He was even able to give us some info about the Tempe area for the Dawg fans making the long trek to The Grand Canyon State.

Note: Pitchfork Nation was kind enough to return the favor and ask a few questions of can find our answers here. Feel free to visit the site and comment on your thoughts about the questions asked and answered.

Catfish & Cornbread: How has Dennis Erickson energized the Arizona State program and fan base?
Justin Karp: Dirk Koetter alienated so many fans, alums and boosters over his six seasons in Tempe, which made Dennis Erickson's revitalization of ASU football last year that much more impressive. DE brought immediate credibility to a program that had become stagnant and a constant underachiever when Koetter was in charge. Dennis interfaces with the community and engages in team marketing so well; he's in TV commercials, he's very accessible to the media and he's even got a cameo in the team's jumbotron pump video. When his mug comes on the screen and says "These are your Sun Devils!", Sun Devil Stadium STILL goes bonkers.

C&C: Rudy Carpenter's stats speak for themselves. In your mind, where does he rank among quarterbacks in Arizona State history?
J.K.: Rudy isn't the most liked quarterback in the history of the program, but he will go down as the most durable one the Sun Devils have had in quite a while. He took over midway through his freshman year in 2005 and has not relinquished the job since. His stats speak for themselves and they will continue to grow as the season goes along, but his attitude isn't well liked by fans (and even some teammates) and he'll never be embraced as one of the best of all time.
Though his stats don't lie, because of how he came into the job after the Sam Keller debacle, he'll never be mentioned in the same breath as Danny White, Jeff Van Raaphorst (ASU's only Rose Bowl winning QB), Jake Plummer and Andrew Walter.

It also doesn't help that a guy like Max Hall, who wasn't even given a chance as a local recruit to make his way up the depth chart, is having so much success elsewhere. ASU hasn't had a QB to legitimately challenge RC for the starting job, either, so the face that he's been the incumbent every year and still hasn't won a big game for the Sun Devils rubs many the wrong way.

C&C: Who is the one offensive and one defensive ASU player to watch that Georgia fans might not know about?
J.K.: On offense, make sure to key in on Kerry Taylor. Taylor, who grew up in Chandler and is the son of former 49ers WR John Taylor, has emerged as this team's legit deep threat in the absense of Rudy Burgess. He's tremendously fast off the line and has the 2nd surest set of hands in the WR corps behind Chris McGaha. When ASU is looking down the field to pick up chunks of yards, Taylor will be the one getting open.

Defensively, there are two. Luis Vasquez and Dexter Davis will be a handful for that banged up offensive line. Davis has been a stud throughout his ASU career and shows no sign of letting up. He led the team and was among the conference leaders in sacks his freshman year and has continually impressed with his strong footwork and quickness. On the other side, Vasquez is a JuCo transfer who immediately impressed. He wasn't supposed to play for a while as his spot was supposed to be filled by highly-touted Florida transfer Tranell Morant, but he never played a down in two years at ASU due to injury. Luis didn't miss a beat and he's easily the strongest player on this team.

C&C: At Georgia, everything is predicated on running the ball and stopping the run. How important is RB Keegan Herring to ASU's offense and do you think his nagging injury will prevent him from playing Saturday?
J.K.: Tremendously important. This team has no sign of a running attack without him. He was the only reason the Sun Devils could still run the ball after Ryan Torain went down last season becuase of his homerun ability. Herring, when healthy, can break a big run on any play at any time.

This makes his nagging injury that much more of a concern. When we first heard of his injury, I got more nervous than more people did, knowing full well how healthy he'd been throughout his career. He's the kind of kid that, if he has an injury that keeps him from taking the field, it must be bad. He ran in practice yesterday and so hopefully we'll have him back on the field on Saturday. If not, there's no way the Devils move the ball on the ground.

C&C: We know he is on IR right now, but what can Atlanta Falcons fans expect from former ASU linebacker Robert James?
J.K.: Robert James was easily this team's defensive MVP last season. His best attribute is his innate ability to be a ball hawk. Wherever the football is, James is usually within about 3 feet. He's fast in coverage and quick on the blitz as well, which is something I'm sure the Falcons desperately need. He's also very sure handed; many of his picks throughout his college career were difficult catches that not many other players would have held onto.

C&C: Even here in Georgia, Pat Tillman is a hero and a legend. What does his legacy mean to the Arizona State family?
J.K.: Pat Tillman's legacy will always live on at Arizona State. The team still wears PT-42 patches on the neckline of their jerseys, his #42 has been retired by the school and Tillman jerseys are the top selling pieces of ASU clothing at the stadium shop. Every year, Tempe and San Jose, CA (Tillman's and my hometown) hold Pat's Run, a 4.2 mile run/walk from which all proceeds go to the Pat Tillman Foundation. The tunnel leading from the ASU locker room to Frank Kush Field is named for Pat and there's a giant mural outside the locker room depicting Tillman in his ASU jersey, an Arizona Cardinals jersey and his Army Ranger uniform.
I could keep going on, but I'd take all day. Tillman is a hero to everyone here at ASU.

C&C: For Georgia fans traveling to Arizona for the game, which golf course, restaurant and bar should they try to visit while in town?
J.K.: I just started golfing so I haven't played too many of the courses; obviously there are many to choose from, but you can't go wrong by getting a tee time at Karsten Golf Course, located on the ASU campus just a half a block away from Sun Devil Stadium. Not much shade, but it's a tremendous challenge, has super fast greens and reasonable fees.

I wont let any Georgia fan/blogger/journalist I have talked to since January leave Tempe without going to Four Peaks Brewing Company, an incredible place about two blocks from campus. They brew all their own beer, and if you try to order something else, they'll just bring you their equivalent, which is always better. Their food is amazing...try the Italian Beef Beer Bread Sandwich or, if you're just looking for drunk food, check out the giant soft Bavarian Pretzels.

As for my favorite bar, you'll find a good time pretty much anywhere on Mill Avenue, but my favorite is The Big Bang, an underground dueling piano bar on 5th and Mill under Hooters and The Library. If you like drinking on the cheap, all sorts of good looking people and some rocking good tunes and hilarious times, you'll love this place. I'll be there after the game on Saturday, win or's even more fun after a win and cheers you right up after a loss.

J.K.: If your readers need any more recommendations on stuff to do this weekend, have them feel free to e-mail me at this address:


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amiable and fun guy. Though I won't be in Arizona, it sounds like he put some thoughts into his recommendations.

Though I am no lover of the Pac-10, I have to admit that this laid back style of football fandom is a refreshing change from the idiotic SCAR, TENN, and FLORIDA fans I am used to dealing with. All the interviews I've read with ASU folk kind of make me want to sit down and buy them a beer....and then explain why our brand of football is infinitely better.

Not to worry though, I am sure I'll be snapped back to reality by the Crimson Tide fans online and coming into Athens next weekend.

Worm said...

Thanks Justin. Great info and perspective on ASU. Tillman is truly a hero!

Nick said...

Justin does a fine job with Pitchfork Nation but just one correction. John Taylor is Kerry's uncle not his dad. His dad is Keith Taylor who was a 10-year NFL vet.

Anonymous said...

This was well done and informative. Lots of thought went into these answers. Thank you. The ASU people do seem laid back. I have a feeling I will start being a Sun Devils fan in all sports because of this home and home series.

27-20 Dawgs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interview - great one!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview. Cannot wait for this game. Good info from Justin.

Anonymous said...

I literally feel sick that I can't be in Tempe for this game. I visited Tempe on business a couple of years ago and had an absolute blast. Love the town...

No matter the outcome of this game, I really hope to have alot of their fans show up in Athens next year. I agree with everyone's sometimes a pleasure to play another team whose fans can actually be civil without things degrading into a "you suck" contest.

Tempe really reminded me of Athens alot (nice campus and stadium within walking distance to a cool vibrant downtown scene). So much so that I even bought an ASU shirt that I've almost worn to pieces.

Anyhoo, God bless Pat Tillman.
Go Dawgs! Go ASU!

Otto said...

This is good stuff right here!

Jesse said...

This guy is a useless kike. I hate him.

And you for interviewing him. Losers.