Arizona State Football: Fixing the Offensive Line
The past two seasons have been less than productive for the Arizona State Sun Devils offense.
Lack of an offensive line.
Arizona State's offensive line seems as though someone has placed a curse on it, riddling it with injuries in recent years.
Just this spring ASU's most reliable and experienced offensive lineman, Jon Hargis, tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss his senior season, a devastating loss for the team.
The additions of right guard Zach Schlink, guard Adam Tello, and Matt Hustad to the list of spring injuries only adds to the disappointment.
Injuries have not been the only problem for the O-line. The lack of big guys has taken a toll on the ASU offense.
This was even more prevalent during the 2009 season with Danny Sullivan under center.
Sullivan, who rarely saw playing time while backing up Rudy Carpenter for three years, was literally thrown into a starting position which he was not qualified for. He struggled with fast and in-the-moment judgement after the snap, and the smaller offensive line did not give him the time he needed.
Opposing defenses easily plowed through the Sun Devil offensive line, putting pressure on the QB seemingly every play.
Sullivan was not the only ASU quarterback who found himself in unwanted situations due to a weak o-line.
Rudy Carpenter found himself in the same predicament just a year before. He was sacked 34 times and saw his stats cut dramatically when compared to his impressive 2007 season after key offensive lineman were added to the injury list.
Both quarterbacks had weak offensive lines, resulting in excessive passes being thrown away, less accuracy, and sacks.
Now, the offensive line is not to be blamed entirely for the lack of quarterback success, as they should be able to handle the rush. But the offensive line enabling the rush nearly every play can take a toll on their performance.
Head coach Dennis Erickson is looking to solve these problems.
In 2010, Dennis Erickson recruited six offensive lineman, the most recruited since 2002. These include the highly touted junior college transfers Brice Schwab and Aderious Simmons.
Schwab, a 6'8" 320 pound lineman out of Pennsylvania, was rated nine out of the top-50 junior college prospects in 2010 and will bring in some height and strength to the struggling line.
Aderious Simmons has been the focal point of enthusiasm for the revamped o-line for Dennis Erickson. With a stature of 6'7" and 320 pounds, Simmons will add size to the line.
Although he will not arrive until the fall, Erickson plans to add him to the mix of starters immediately.
Erickson has been displaying a new found confidence in his offensive line, which has not been seen in a while. The addition of his new, bigger recruits will be vital for their success.
Another plus is the return of Garth Gerhart (brother of Toby Gerhart) at center after foot injuries limited his playing time last season.
Overall, there will be an improvement with the offensive line for 2010 season, because let's face it, anything is an improvement over the performance in past years.