Lewis, Team Anxious for Season Start

The off-season can pass in a blink of an eye. However, once the pre-season begins, it seems like those four weeks of endless practices can last a lifetime. Couple that with the hoopla over the starting quarterback decisions, and it's no wonder why players like Jamaal Lewis wish the season opener against Northern Arizona would already arrive.

"That's one thing we wish we didn't have to deal with," said Jamaal Lewis concerning the decisions on the starting quarterback that took place this past weekend. "It's just another adversity situation that we have to get over with, move on, and keep our eyes on the goal."

Naysayers point to the coach Dirk Koetter's decision to change his starting quarterbacks, after consulting several upperclassmen players, as a sign of a divided team. "There are gonna be doubters out there," acknowledged Lewis. "So we wanna go out there and turn some heads and keep focused. People don't realize how tightly woven this team is with all the stuff we have gone through the past few years. This situation will help us grow as a group and move on."

Lewis mentioned that following the resolution to name Rudy Carpenter as a starter which prompted the departure of Sam Keller, the team leaders kept the squad in line and made sure that no one individual would do something foolish to hurt the team. "It did impact different people in different ways," he admitted. "Some people were closer to Sam. But the guys who lead the group kept everyone focused on the goals and helped us keep on moving forward."

Lewis was part of that senior leadership group that Koetter consulted with, among other parties, before his decision to name Carpenter as the starter. Players such as Zach Catanese, Jordan Hill, Josh Barrett, Rudy Burgess, Terry Richardson, Stephen Berg and Andrew Carnahan are some of the other players that are part of that assembly. The wide receiver/tight end wouldn't characterize the group's meeting as being difficult, but it did carry strong importance with it. "It was an eye-opener," he recalled. "We didn't think we'd be loosing one or the other (quarterbacks)."

Lewis admitted that he's one player that was hurt perhaps more than the others that Keller would leave. His reasoning is nostalgic in nature. "Sam came in with me," said Lewis. "His first touchdown pass was my first touchdown reception. Stuff like that really affects people in different ways. The freshmen obviously barely knew who he was."

The senior will still shuttle between tight end and wide receiver, and is talented enough to play all wide receiver positions. "Everything is set and I feel confident with the plays," he said. "I'm reading the defenses better…I'm just ready for that first game in the season. My first snap was against NAU. I can't wait to go out there and play again."

Aside from seeing time at tight end, Lewis will assume all the receiver roles during any game. "I improved my ability to get off," he explained. "As a tight end you just run by the linebacker. Now I'm using hands to get off corners."

Up until now, it may have been a grueling pre-season that has dragged with nearly 20 practices and counting. With just over a week before the season opener, the pace seems to be picking up a bit, and the whirlwind over the quarterback situation probably did nothing to slow down matters. It also hasn't let Jamaal Lewis and his teammates be led astray from what they set out to accomplish. "One game at a time, we need to keep our eyes on the prize," he said. "The Rose Bowl is our goal and we have to stay focused on that and keep on winning."

With a talented and close knit team such as the Sun Devils, dreams stand a good chance to become reality.

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