Walter Wouldn't Change A Thing in His Past

With his eye-popping numbers and clam demeanor, it's easy to forget that Andrew Walter had rocky journey towards stardom in 2002. The sophomore signal caller was regulated to a back up role ever since spring practice, which he feels help him mature and evolve to not only the best rags to riches story on the team, but also to one of the premier College quarterbacks in the nation.

"I didn't agree with the decision made after spring ball to not start me," Says Walter "But I wouldn't change anything. Going through struggles makes you enjoy the high times more and keeps you grounded. If I would have had success right away and throughout my career I could have thought that I was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I don't. That situation really helped me to get to where I am right now." He recalls his frame of mind earlier in the year, when he contemplated leaving Tempe. "I was not pleased coming out of spring practices, but, it is something that I didn't want to give up on. I have always wanted to play at ASU, I was born and lived here in Phoenix, so, this is home and I didn't want to go anywhere else. It was important to me to stay…It was pretty difficult at the beginning of the season and I tried to focus on the little things; hanging around the guys and just make the most of what reps I got at practice."

With all the trials and tribulations that the Sun Devil starter went through, one would think that he would savor his recent victory just a little longer. However, Walter has the Huskies on his mind. "It (Oregon victory) still feels real good. I am going to start really looking toward Washington tonight and get back to work. It was a great win, but we have a big game ahead of us." The humble Grand Junction, CO high school graduate was almost oblivious about his record setting game in Eugene this past weekend. "After the third quarter they showed the stats on the JumboTron and I just happened to catch it when it flashed up there. I didn't even know where all the stats had come from because it just didn't seem like it. Against Stanford and North Carolina, both those games I could feel the yards piling up."

Another feeling that Walter has been experiencing the last 48 hours is the outpouring of support, as well as various awards and media requests. "I've gotten a few more phone calls from friends and family back home, so it is nice for them to enjoy it with me. Today, nothing has really changed on campus, except for a few comments here and there saying 'nice game' and stuff like that." While the team's outlook has changed dramatically since defeating the Ducks, pressure is a notion that won't enter his mind, as well as his teammates. "No question the expectations have changed. Before this weekend, the only pressures were on ourselves because we all had big expectations. Now more people have caught on with the attention toward the program. The expectations toward the program and players are more of a tangible thing to grasp. It is a reality now that we have expectations from our fans, from the nation and we can go out and grab what is there. I think a lot of players are excited and the mood in the locker room, on the field and in the huddle has changed."

For the most of the season, the Sun Devils have shown an incredible knack to overcome any adverse situation they encountered. Walter states that the reasons for this attribute are all embedded in the spirit of the team. "You don't want to go into Autzen Stadium and go down 21 points, because that sure isn't how you draw things up. But, to come back in that type of atmosphere and respond is huge and I would say it is just the mental attitude of this team. A lot of guys on the team said they looked at the scoreboard when we were down 21-0 and it didn't even register that we couldn't comeback and win the game. You can't measure it in stats, in wins or losses; it is just confidence and what makes this team go. The comebacks are special and speak volumes toward the character of this football team." The ASU quarterback seemed to get off to a sluggish start that was reminisced of his worst game of the season, just the other week against Oregon State. As always, he was able to dig himself out of the hole he dug. "Against Oregon State it was kind of a situation where I got knocked around early and couldn't find a rhythm or get things to click. I asked Coach Helfrich (ASU's Quarterbacks Coach) if there were any nuances that he went through when he was a player that could help me. This game didn't start out good early with two interceptions early and the offense wasn't clicking in the first quarter. But, it felt like we were close and the rhythm was maybe just a half a beat off. I really think it was just our team relaxing and letting things happen. We didn't press and just played our game."

When you're a quarterback and your head coach is also the offensive coordinator, your relationship can be more strenuous than usual. However, Walter has nothing but positive words when he talked about Dirk Koetter, and according to him that relationship has a very positive impact on the squad. "The communication lines have always been there, but now it is really open and it truly reflects the state of this program and where we are as a team. The feeling between coach and I is really great and I think that is the way it is pretty much for our whole team right now." It doesn't hurt that Koetter's explosive offensive schemes fit Walter like a glove. "After the game, I said, the system allows you to put up numbers like that. Any given day you can throw for 400 yards. The calls that were made were absolutely perfect in the situations. With the some of the athletes we have on the field, those plays can really hurt other teams. Shaun McDonald made some great catches on some poor throws. More often than not he is making the big plays. Having someone like him on our side is great. Hopefully he will be around next year and we can keep this going." If there's an aspect of Koetter's coaching that Walter is less enamored with, it is the fact that on game day the ASU skipper prefers personal communication to hand signals. "It just helps so you don't miss any signals. I am not a fan of it, because I get tired running over there all of the time. I would rather have it signaled into me, but in a case where you are in a loud and crazy environment like Autzen Stadium, it really helps."

While Walter looked like a grizzled veteran against Oregon, it's hard to realize that he's only a sophomore who amassed a mere 546 yards on 86 attempts in all of 2001. The most recent Pac-10 offensive player of the week knows that his improvement is just one more reason why the future of the team is even brighter than the present. "We are an extremely young team and will get a lot back next year. What we will be able to accomplish this year will surprise some people, but we expected this. All the hard work in the off-season has paid off and will continue to pay off, as we grow older as a team and more confident within the program. I think the most important thing is that a younger team like ours is learning how to win close games and seeing how fun it can be to win." If there was any display of inexperience on his part, it was the fact that he tossed the ball when the game ended, when he had to chance to keep an invaluable memento. "I wanted to throw it into the stands, but didn't know if I would get a penalty or something, plus, that is pretty disrespectful to the Oregon Ducks. We were all celebrating. It is probably with the rest of the game balls from that game. I have to go get one though so I can remember that game." And Sun Devil fans are likely to remember this game for years to come…

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