Walter and His Receivers Are Now On the Same Page

The Sun Devils quarterback and his head coach claim that the additional collaboration in practice between the signal callers and the wideouts will pay dividends in the team's Pac-10 opener.

The junior exclaims that the biggest adjustment he had made this week in practice was spending more time than ever this week with his arial targets, especially in the classroom. "Just getting on the same page with receivers," he states. "Having them understand where I'm coming from, and for me to understand where they're coming from. That's what the biggest adjustment was. It wasn't (going over) fundamentals or anything like that." Walter says that practices have been crisp, and that the players on offense have been working exceptionally hard.

Walter agreed that this current week has been a humbling period of sorts. "It's been a week where you realize who's on your side and who's against you," says the junior. "I guess you knew that before, but it helps make it obvious. We looked at it (the Iowa game) as a wake up call. We didn't get the wake up call during Pac-10 play and we have to be thankful for that. It's definitely something good to get out of the way before Pac-10 play."

When viewing the tape of his next opponent, Walter thinks that the Oregon State defense will give a different (and arguably favorably) look than Iowa did. "They're an attack style defense that challenges receivers, and makes plays," exclaims the quarterback. "There's some talk that they'll play cover-two. We'll have to adjust on the run if they change anything up. But from what we saw they'll be in attack mode." Another issue Walter isn't apprehensive about is the Corvallis crowd. "They're gonna have a long day to gear up for the game. The student section here I think knows what I'm talking about (smile). They'll be ready to go. But we came from a place that's hostile too, so we'll be able to keep it all in perspective."

According to Walter, getting over the Iowa loss is easier than some would think. "You just watch the tape on Sunday," says the junior. "You realize where you screwed up and what you need to get better at, and you move on. It's not a game you need to dwell on, but you definitely learn from a loss. You just need to turn a negative to a positive…I don't see us thinking about it on Saturday.

Despite all the pre-season accolades that he and his team enjoyed earlier in the year, the quarterback is treating this upcoming contest as a just one more game on the schedule. However, that's not to say that this match-up with the Beavers isn't a golden opportunity for redemption. "It's a normal game," claims Walter. "It's no different than anything else, even with all the hype that was going on before. It changes nothing for me. People are gonna say what they want to say. It doesn't affect my preparation or the guys on the field practicing…I can show everybody on TV that I can play. Last week was a fluke, and every week is a proving ground. That's the way I have to look at it."

Skeptics have wondered how such a veteran ASU team could lose confidence during the Iowa game. Walter says that the confidence hasn't been lost, and that the greener positions will get better in time. "We're veteran at some positions like quarterback and offensive line," says the signal caller. "But a lot of the receivers aren't veterans. So when things don't go well, it takes the veterans to get guys straighten out. We just want to play good. I feel real good about where we at where we are in practice."

" I think I had confidence in these guys this week as much as I had any other week," continues Walter. "And I think it will show up on Saturday. I think we're as far along as we've been even since camp. I do like where we at right now. We are where we need to be and we'll keep getting better."

Coach Koetter isn't rattled by the court of public opinion and the discontent they expressed following the defeat to Iowa. "That's just part of it," says Koetter. "People are gonna over react on the high side when we do well, and over react on the negative side when we don't do well. We know we didn't play well last week, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves. I tell the players all the time we dug ourselves into this and we'll have to dig ourselves out."

The ASU skipper was optimistic that his injured stars, Daryl Lightfoot and R.J. Oliver will be suit up on Saturday. "Daryl is good to go. He has had an excellent week of practice. He was a little bit sluggish on Sunday, but Tuesday and Wednesday he has been great…R.J. was pretty darn good, but not as good as Daryl, but good enough to go. We'll see how he does today, but chances are that he will go." Koetter added that banged up defensive backs Riccardo Stewart and Josh Golden will play in the Pac-10 opener.

Koetter seemed to agree with his quarterback, when trying to predict what defensive scheme Oregon State will employ this week. "They played a little cover-two in extreme long yardage against Boise State," states Koetter. "That's not their base defense. I think we always have to be on guard for teams to do that (play the cover-two). That's not Oregon State's style, and I don't think too many teams will change their style just because they play us." He adds that a decision on a starting running back will come after Thursday's practice.

Another point of agreement between the ASU head coach and Walter was the renewed level of cohesiveness between the signal caller and his wide receivers. "They met together a lot more this week," exclaims Koetter. "Traditionally, we have our quarterbacks and receivers meet separate so they can cover more ground. But we felt that we had to bring those two meetings together, so they can make sure they were hearing it the same way, seeing it the same way on tape…I think the players feel good about that, and I think we'll see the difference on the field."

The third year coach squelched any notions that Walter has to step up his leadership this week, in order for the squad to reverse its fortunes. "Andrew has done a good job with that already," says Koetter. "He took the heat for the things that he should take heat for in the last game. He always does a good job with the media…is this a week for him to do it (exhibit leadership)? He has done it whether he needed to or not."

This week, one can sense genuine excitement and a keen sense of anxiousness among the maroon and gold squad. Koetter claims it's only natural to posses that emotion at a time like this. "They're excited two fold," he says. "One, to get into conference play - that's huge no matter what. Two, whenever you come off a game like we played last week, you can't wait to get that taste out of your mouth." Koetter was emphasizing once again his pleasure with his defense and special teams. "They have nothing to be ashamed of the way they played against Iowa. Offensively we didn't get it done. If our defense plays like that all year, and our special teams play like that all year, we will win more than our share of games."

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