Sun Bowl Start Bittersweet for Safety

Josh Barrett readily admits that teammate Riccardo Stewart has had a great influence on him. Going into the Sun Bowl, the misfortunate of Stewart who underwent season ending surgery becomes a golden opportunity for Barrett to notch his first post-season start.

We caught up with Josh Barrett last week in Tempe, and talked to him about his new role. "I'm feeling good," he said. "I'm working hard out here, practicing with the 1's, and I'm getting a lot of support. It's a cool thing that you got so many people backing you up."

As mentioned, no one has lent more endorsement than Riccardo Stewart. As strong as his emotions may be on the subject; the redshirt freshman knows he has to put them aside come this Friday. "Riccardo's a great motivator, and I look up to him," Barrett remarked. "He's like a mentor for me. He's always been really positive, and always gave me advice. I was injured for a lot of games (missed all of 2003 after getting injured in the season opener), and he's been in that position before. Him being injured now is bittersweet for me. It does give me an opportunity, and that's what I need to focus on."

Barrett played in nine games in 2004. He collected 13 tackles and one interception during that time. The Sun Bowl will mark his fourth start this season, so naturally he's beyond the stage fright jitters that may accompany others who haven't played as much as him. "I definitely feel more comfortable," he said. "I have a lot of plays under my belt, and we have so much time to prepare for Purdue. We scouted them as well as you can scout anyone. They have a lot of weapons, and we have the scheme that's ready to deal with that. As an individual, I have to give a big effort every play."

The safety said that preparing for Purdue, who hails from the Big Ten conference, is much like getting ready to play an old familiar Pac-10 foe. "They love to sling the ball," he explained. "Their quarterback (Kyle Orton) was a Heisman candidate a lot of weeks into the season. They have great receivers. Taylor Stubblefield knows how to read defenses and get open, and Orton has a strong arm and can get it there as quick as he can."

Ironically, the redshirt freshman admitted that his pass defense is probably the aspect of his game he was perfecting on the most during the season. "I was definitely working a lot on that," he stated. "In the Pac-10 you face great quarterbacks every week, so you have to be ready for that. You can never be prefect covering the receiver. There are too many obstacles like reading the routes and stuff like that."

Starting in the Sun Bowl for Josh Barrett, much like Sam Keller's start, provides coaches and fans a glimpse to the future and some of the probable starters in 2005. Thus, the safety is fully aware of the magnitude of the occasion "It's a chance that not many get," he said, "and it's an opportunity I have to seize. I'm ready to give a great effort." Much like his mentor has for four years in the maroon and gold.

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