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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Two-headed monster Lewis, Kelley reaping dividends for UA football”

    UA linebacker Xavier Kelley (15) latches onto Toledo receiver Stephen Williams in a 41-16 Wildcat win on Sept. 6 at Arizona Stadium. Coaches said Kelley and Sterling Lewis, who now leads the team in tackles after taking over, both play like staring linebackers.
    UA linebacker Xavier Kelley (15) latches onto Toledo receiver Stephen Williams in a 41-16 Wildcat win on Sept. 6 at Arizona Stadium. Coaches said Kelley and Sterling Lewis, who now leads the team in tackles after taking over, both play like staring linebackers.

    After UA junior linebacker Xavier Kelley went down with an ankle injury in the middle of the Toledo game, the untested junior Sterling Lewis was thrown into the fire.

    And he certainly didn’t get burned, leading the Wildcats with 12 tackles in only three quarters of work in the 41-16 Arizona win. Lewis has started every game since then, despite Kelley’s health improving enough to play after sitting out the New Mexico game.

    “”He’s by far playing like one of the best guys out there on the field,”” Kelley said. “”I mean, he’s giving it his all and he knows his assignments, so I give hats off to him and I

    appreciate the way he’s playing right now. I think the team appreciates the way he’s playing right now.””

    How could they not?

    At the season’s midway point, Lewis either leads the team or is tied for the team lead in three statistical categories.

    He has 48 tackles – 11 more than senior middle linebacker Ronnie Palmer. His 29 solo tackles is 10 more than the next man and his four tackles for loss is tied with sophomore defensive end Ricky Elmore.

    Lewis also stuffs the stat sheet with two pass breakups and a forced fumble to go along with a fumble recovery.

    But he doesn’t take all the credit by any means.

    After the Toledo and Washington games, Lewis said he still looks to Kelley for advice because of the two extra years Kelley has in the Wildcats’ defensive scheme. Kelley and Lewis watch game film together to spot areas they could both improve on.

    “”It’s a good little relationship we’ve got going,”” Kelley said.

    No matter which player is on the field, the coaches are confident the level of play will be indistinguishable.

    “”We feel like we have two starting middle linebackers,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”I think both of them have played tremendously well for us and played winning football. It is nice to have two guys that you feel very confident about and are comparable in talent.””

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