Lightfoot Vows To Beat Injuries and Aid Offense

Durability overcoming talent. Some say that is the book right now on wide receiver Daryl Lightfoot. He has been the perfect example of a willing mind battling an unwilling body. His absence from the lineup was never felt stronger than the Iowa loss, where the Devils were lacking a speed burner to combat a stifling zone defense. Nevertheless, a frustrated Lightfoot told DevilsDigest he is ready to return to the lineup and accomplish other goals that lie ahead.

The junior states that his hamstring injury is behind him, and that he's ready to play in Corvallis this week. He adds that his durability isn't an issue this time around. "I feel like I'm way healthier than I was last year," says Lightfoot. "Right now, I just have a little nick that kept me out. I understand that the coaches didn't want me to play so I won't make the injury worse, and that I'll be ready for Oregon State. I think I could have played at Iowa and the coaches know that too. But at the same time they were looking out for me, and I understand that."

When talking to the wide receiver, he doesn't know what was more frustrating for him: Watching his team under perform at Iowa, or the fact that he had to do so from the sidelines. "It's easier to be in the game. I thought for a minute that I was going in, but it didn't end up going like that. That was a call I really couldn't make." Just like his teammates, he's ready to put the loss to the Hawkeyes in the rear view mirror and look ahead to the beginning of conference play. "The loss was frustrating," exclaims the junior. "But I'm ready to take care of business this week. Our first three games were non-conference, and this week we have the Pac-10. This is where it all starts. You always wanna win those games and do well as a team. I'm ready for this week."

This week's film session was naturally a very unpleasant experience to Lightfoot and his cohorts at wide receiver. However, that meeting was also a chance to get in synch with quarterback Andrew Walter and see the errors committed from the signal caller's point of view. "We didn't watch the film alone, we watched it with everybody else. Andrew showed us what he was looking at in the game, and why people didn't get the rock in certain positions. If we know what he's thinking in the pocket, it's easier for us to make adjustments and get it done."

Speaking of adjustments, head coach Dirk Koetter said that it the team's offense did suffer without the services of their fastest receiver. Does Lightfoot view that statement as a compliment or does it just deepen his frustration over his injury? "A little bit of both," he states. "I know what I can do when I'm out there. A lot people know if I'm not out there it's frustrating to the team – knowing what I can do in certain situations. It's sure frustrating to me, I'm looking at the game and I'm like ‘man, I could have run right by him' (smile). Things like that come up in your head. But I have confidence in our receivers to get the job done."

Lightfoot is aware that a good deal of fans have become extremely disenchanted with the team's play to date, in light of all the hype that the Sun Devils received going into the 2003 campaign. While he respects those sentiments, he says that the team and the coaches are keeping everything in perspective. "There's always expectations, and we had a lot of high expectations coming in to the season," states Lightfoot. "As soon as we don't live up to them or it looks like we won't live up to them – we're gonna have those questions by fans). But as a team, we're gonna try to stick together. Coach Koetter prepares us every week, and tells us that we're as good as a team as people think we were (in the beginning of the season). We had stuff like fumbles at the goal line, penalties…that makes the score look a whole lot different than it really should be."

"We know that this loss didn't hurt our Rose Bowl chances," continues Lightfoot. "Like everyone else, we wanted to go to New Orleans (to the Sugar Bowl) too. But we know that even after the loss in Iowa there's a lot to accomplish, and the Rose Bowl is one of things we want to accomplish. So the Iowa game is behind us."

The receiver views the recipe for success this week against Oregon State, as being tied in with the cohesiveness of his unit. "We just need to be on the same page. We have some people like Richardson and Matt Miller that haven't gotten a lot of reps. Once we're all healthy it will all come together." It does seem on paper that for the first time season the Sun Devil wide receiver core will be healthy and fully in tact. On Saturday night. We'll all learn if this was indeed the vital ingredient for this once explosive offense to bring back found memories of last year.

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