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Opponent analysis: Walter leads dangerous pass attack

By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
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Coming into this season, Arizona State (4-7, 1-6 Pacific 10 Conference) was ranked among the Top 25 in the nation and had a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. The Sun Devils were expected by many to contend with USC for the Pac-10 crown.

However, with injuries to some key players and an abundance of inconsistent play, all ASU is playing for is to stay out of last place.

The Wildcats travel to Tempe Friday afternoon to play the 77th game against intrastate archrival ASU at Sun Devil Stadium.

Although the Devils have fallen far short of their expectations this season, ASU still possesses a dangerous passing attack led by junior quarterback Andrew Walter.

"I really think Andrew Walter is one of the premier quarterbacks in the Pac-10," said UA interim head coach Mike Hankwitz.

Arizona State

4-7, 1-6 (Pacific 10 Conference) School: Arizona State University
Team nickname: Sun Devils
Colors: Maroon and Gold
Location: Tempe
Enrollment: 45,693
Founded: 1885
2002 Record: 8-6 (5-3 Pac-10)
Head coach: Dirk Koetter
Player to watch: QB Andrew Walter

Walter came into this season touted as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, but sustained an injury to his ankle midway through the season - an injury that hampered him in four games.

In 11 games this season, Walter has thrown for 2763 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those numbers have moved him into second on the Sun Devils' career passing yards chart, and his 52 career touchdowns are third on the school's all-time list.

"With Walter and his abilities and experience to throw, you have to defend the passing game," Hankwitz said. "The passing game is the way they feel they can beat you."

The ASU junior has looked more comfortable late in the season since he's found a go-to receiver in sophomore Derek Hagan.

Hagan leads the Sun Devil receiving corps with five 100-yard games on the season. He went for 109 yards two weeks ago in ASU's loss to Washington State.

Hagan has also gone over the century mark this season against Stanford, USC, Oregon and North Carolina.

In the Sun Devils' last seven contests, Hagan has 46 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns. On the season, he leads ASU with 58 catches for 921 yards and eight scores. His yardage is good enough for fifth in the conference.

The Sun Devils have also gotten a great deal of production out of senior receiver Skyler Fulton.

Fulton is right behind Hagan with 57 catches for 795 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns.

"They have an excellent corps of receivers," Hankwitz said. "(Hagan and Fulton) have made big plays for them."

But Arizona senior linebacker Matt Molina feels confident in his team's ability to contain ASU's passing game.

"I think we match up pretty well against them," Molina said. "They mix it up a lot."

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