August 25, 2004
Senior cornerback R.J. Oliver is out for the season after fracturing bones and tearing ligaments in a foot during Arizona State’s scrimmage last Friday.
"This is a huge blow for R.J. and the team," coach Dirk Koetter said after practice Tuesday night. "But we have to push on."
Oliver, a three-year starter, was injured defending Moey Mutz late in the scrimmage at Camp Tontozona.
He said he jumped to try to intercept the Andrew Walter throw, was pushed by Mutz, and landed on his toes.
"I knew something was wrong," he said, describing the incident as a "freak accident."
"I just didn’t know how severe it was."
X-rays could not reveal the extent of the damage, but a magnetic resonance imaging test did.
The injury is so severe that during surgery Thursday a foot specialist will reconstruct several toes.
"My toes are off-line," said Oliver, a fifth-year senior who has used his redshirt season.
Oliver has been troubled by injuries the past two seasons. But he said his current situation was "by far" the most difficult he’s had to face.
He’ll be in a cast for three months, he said, then begin rehabilitating the foot.
"I wouldn’t wish this on anyone," he said. "But it’s football."
There’s a drop-off from the starting cornerbacks.
Junior Josh Golden has started in the past and is next in line in experience.
Injury-plagued redshirt freshman Chad Green was billed as ASU’s top cornerback signee from last year. Mike Davis Jr. is also a candidate. "One of those three guys will have to rise up," Koetter said. The loss of Oliver’s experience and expertise won’t mean a shift in philosophy, Koetter said. "We won’t change our style because of one guy," he said.
Safety coach Dan Fidler may just be a little distracted when the Sun Devils open the season Sept. 2 against Texas-El Paso. His wife Kim is due to deliver the couple’s second child that day.
Safety Riccardo Stewart was again in street clothes Tuesday. An MRI on Stewart’s damaged shoulder was negative. "He’s got some shoulder and stinger issues," Koetter said. "He’ll be cleared to play when it gets stronger." Linebacker Justin Burks (clavicle) returned to practice.
ASU fans can watch the taping of Fox Sports Net Arizona’s "Sun Devil Insider Kickoff Show" Thursday at McDuffy’s in downtown Tempe. Koetter, Walter, Stewart, and athletic director Gene Smith will be part of the show. The show will air Sept. 1.