CORVALLIS, Ore. - With the substantial injury difficulties that Arizona State experienced at the wide receiver position on Saturday, the team could have used Jamaal Lewis.
However, the senior did not make the trip to Oregon State — and the rest of his college career could be in doubt — because he has been suspended due to personal issues, coach Dirk Koetter said.
“Jamaal has some things off the field that he needs to get straightened out,” Koetter said. “Until he can get those things taken care of, he will not be with us.”
Lewis, a 6-foot-4, 229-pounder who converted from tight end in the offseason, has not been able to build on his electrifying 2005. Nonfootball circumstances have been a major reason why.
In the early-morning hours of Aug. 30 — a day before the Sun Devils opened the season against Northern Arizona — Lewis was caught driving at about 115 mph on Loop 101 near Scottsdale and arrested for criminal speeding. He paid a fine and was suspended for two games.
When he returned to the team, Lewis was unable to become the downfield threat he was a season ago, when he led all Division I-A tight ends with 19.6 yards a catch. In 2006, he has seven receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown, scored at Washington on Oct. 28.
Lewis has said that the missed time “set me back.”
HANGING IN THERE
With cornerback Rudy Burgess out for Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle, Keno Walter-White started for the first time since Oct. 14 at Southern California. When Burgess moved over from wide receiver, he bumped Walter-White from the first string.
“I felt comfortable out there,” Walter-White said. “I’m comfortable being out there all game at cornerback. That’s what I do.”
Walter-White has given the Sun Devil coaches some anxious moments this season, but after he replaced the injured Burgess at Washington, he played perhaps the best he has all season, Koetter said.
On Saturday, Walter-White primarily covered Beavers receiver Anthony Wheat-Brown, who caught three passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, a 9-yarder in the second quarter.
“They have good receivers, but throughout the game, I felt I had good coverage,” Walter-White said. “On that touchdown, when they are that close to the end zone, it’s hard to stop them.”
The Sun Devils won the pregame coin toss, deferred and inadvertently gave Oregon State the first-quarter wind advantage.
After the Beavers opted to take the ball, Koetter intended to defend the South goal that the 16-mph wind was blowing from. But ASU ended up going in the opposite direction.
“That was a miscommunication,” Koetter said. “We wanted to kick with the wind, because I was confident that Jesse (Ainsworth) could get the ball to the end zone with it. Somehow, in the communication, we ended up kicking the other way. The officials said it was too late to change it.”
Oregon State was grateful for that arrangement, as late in the first quarter, kicker Alexis Serna booted a 51-yard field goal with the breeze.
Ainsworth missed a 32-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, ending a string of 20 consecutive successful tries inside 40 yards. The last inside-40 kick he failed to convert was at California on Oct. 30, 2004. . . . Junior receiver Tyrice Thompson had his first career catch. . . . Oregon State’s College World Series-winning baseball team received its championship rings during a halftime ceremony.