Stewart Keeps Positive Outlook

Coming off three consecutive losses, suffice to say that the Sun Devils are experiencing some dire times. In situations such as this, the team's leadership has to prove its worth and aid in pulling out the squad out of its quagmire of troubles. In this exclusive interview, Safety Riccardo Stewart told DevilsDigest he plans to do just that.

The junior from La Verne, CA is once again leading the ASU defense with his team high 47 tackles. Additionally, he has recorded 10 or more tackles in three games this season (averaging 9.4 stops per game). However, the humble Stewart puts his individual accomplishments in perspective. "I'm doing all right," he said. "There's some stuff this year that I wasn't able to do last year, but that just comes with experience. But we have to come back, put it together, and get a win. I'm not saying this because I have to say it - but the individual stuff doesn't mean anything. Individually, I can never win the Rose Bowl or the Pac-10."

Stewart, who is tied with Jason Shivers for a team leading three interceptions, pointed to missed assignments as the biggest factor plaguing the Sun Devils in their three game skid. "We're having breakdowns on key plays," exclaimed Stewart. "In this defense, everybody has to do their job. We had a couple of plays, where one or two players, myself included, aren't doing their job. We have to play together. We need some guys back like R.J. Oliver, and we'll be fine." While he said that one could be hopeless in face of injuries, other intangibles can survive the physical rigors of the game. "You can't do anything about injuries," stated Stewart. "You can't prevent anyone from going out there and hurting themselves. But you can help your courage; your heart…and guys are playing hard. No one can say that we're not working hard enough, and I like that."

As the permanent co-captain of the team (along with Andrew Walter), the safety realizes the attitude he has to assume, especially when his team is besieged with losses and all around scrutiny. "I'm coming out here with a positive face," Stewart said. "And I don't have to make myself do it. We're still playing College Football. We're lucky – not everyone can say that they played Pac-10 football. I'm in good health – I don't have any injuries or surgeries. I thank god for that every day."

On Saturday, ASU will face an Oregon team, which leads the conference in passing offense and is third in the scoring offense category. Thus, after facing a challenging Trojans' vertical attack last week, Stewart and he and his fellow defensive backs will once again be tested early and often. "Oregon's offense is pretty much the same thing they've been running the last few years," claimed Stewart. "Their receivers might not be known like the USC ones, but they're a lot faster. They run a lot more deeper routes, and this will be a different type of offense we'll see this week. In the Pac-10, every week we'll see good receivers. They also have good running backs, two good quarterbacks, and the line does a good job in protecting and blocking."

There are a lot of questions concerning the nature of the factors that have contributed to ASU's shortcomings in 2003, and the methods needed to overcome them. "I'm not sure what the reason is (for the team's problems)," said Stewart. "But whatever it is we'll find it out and take care of it." This week, the safety and his teammates will look to provide answers rather then pose troubling questions.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories