Walter Continues Healing, Keller Preparing

Coach Dirk Koetter still expects his starting signal caller to play on Saturday. Nevertheless, the focus on Tuesday's practice was to ensure that backup Sam Keller get an adequate number of snaps in anticipation for the possibility that he may see his first start as a Sun Devil.

"Andrew is getting better," said Koetter. "Like I've been saying before it's day to day. We don't have a crystal ball, but if anyone can play on it Andrew will play. I know that in my heart."

For Keller, Tuesday's practice schedule was quite different than he's used to. "Today is really the day we install the game plan," exclaimed the Sun Devil head coach. "And Wednesday-Thursday are more situational days. The main focus of today is to give Sam a lot of reps and get him up to speed…Andrew will be in and out from some stuff (in practice) today. The stuff we're doing today – Andrew has done a million times. Today will be a good day for Sam to get caught up." Koetter added that Walter's injury didn't prevent him from attending any of the position meetings prior to practice.

Sam Keller may be a true freshman, but he seemed liked a grizzled veteran in his UCLA post game comments where he took responsibility for the team's loss. However, Koetter thought that Keller took an inordinate share of the blame "I do look at that as a good thing," stated the ASU coach. "I much rather have a player that will step up and put the blame on himself, than somebody who's making excuses saying ‘I'm just a freshman…it's my first game.' Sam played well the second quarter. He played like he's been playing in practice. He didn't play as well in the fourth quarter, but we didn't play around him well either."

Based on Keller's feelings over the UCLA game, one probably shouldn't be surprised to learn how he spent his day off. "Sam was in most of yesterday's (Monday's) afternoon," said Koetter. "He was in early today too. Pencil sharpen – notebook open (smile). Sam will be fine. Sam's problem isn't gonna be not knowing what to do."

Coach Koetter is very pragmatic concerning the change in the game plan, in the event that Keller will get the nod. "It's part of what you do. You don't have any options. You have to make a plan that Sam can handle, that our team can handle, and based on what Cal does and what are strengths are. We just have to go forward from there."

With the thinning numbers at defensive end, the emergence of Kyle Caldwell has been a welcomed sight. The ASU skipper knows that the best is still yet to come. "I think Kyle's upside is way up in front of him. He's a true freshman, and it's not like he's playing 15 yards from the action. He's right in there, and the guys he's going against are men, not boys."

Not many members of the 2003 class were as heralded as the local phenom from Scottsdale. While Koetter is very pleased with Caldwell's play, he can't help wonder if the defensive end would ever fulfill the aspirations that others may have for him. "I don't think Kyle could do anything to meet what some people had expectations wise for him. He has exceeded the expectations that I've had, and he had to overcome that knee (injury) that set him back three weeks in fall camp. I think he's one of those guys that the more confidence he has, the better he will play."

The Cal game, just like the North Carolina one, may symbolize a payback opportunity for last year's home loss. Koetter thinks that revenge may or not be a factor, especially with the first year players that didn't participate in the 2002 contest. In Tuesday's 30-minute team meeting, which Koetter called "productive", there seemed to be a different emphasis. "Five players stood up and spoke," stated Koetter. "I liked what those guys had to say. What came out (of the meeting) is that we need to control what we can control. We can control how we play, and how we execute. That will be the focus more than any revenge issue."

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