Senior Cornerback Feels Sense of Urgency

There is an old adage in baseball describing young free-swinging ballplayers from the Dominican Republic: <I>you can't walk of the island.</I> In the case of senior R.J. Oliver, Arizona State University's number one corner back, staying on an island is just fine by him.

Playing in the pass happy PAC-10, Oliver is put in a lot of one-on-one situations against some of the best aerial attacks in the country. "I came to the PAC-10 to play corner because, especially in this defense, it's one-on-one all day long," said Oliver.

To alleviate some of the riggers of playing in the PAC-10, defensive coordinator Brent Guy has switched to a 4-3 defensive scheme instead of the 4-2-5. While Oliver will still be in his patented one-on-one role, he believes the addition of an outside linebacker will take a little heat off of him. "We have a little more help with the safety and linebackers dropping underneath," stated Oliver. "So we don't have to play the underneath as much,"

On a 5-7 team last year with many deficiencies, none was bigger than the one in the defense backfield. To help patch up that hole, head coach Dirk Koetter brought in Mark Carrier to coach the cornerbacks. Carrier, a former Jim Thorpe Award winner and NFL star, has game tested knowledge and brings a competitive attitude. "In the league he was a competitor day in and day out," remarked Oliver. "Today (Tuesday) we slacked off and he got after us. We can't afford to do that, especially at this level. That's how we lose games. That's why we were 5-7 last year."

Oliver, who was hampered last year by a hamstring injury that occurred on a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, enjoyed his best campaign in 2002 when he had four interceptions en route to a Holliday Bowl appearance. Oliver hopes his last season in Tempe is a healthy one and he will be doing his best to make sure the great senior leadership of the 2002 team appears again Among the maroon and gold. "All the seniors are taking a leadership role because last year we let a lot of things slide and we ended up 5-7," said Oliver. "We're not going to let the team slip like we did last year."

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