Gerhart, Offensive line work for consistency

Although the Sun Devils have dropped three straight contests, their running game has proven to be surprisingly effective and sometimes lethal and some credit should be given to the offensive line. However, with the ten sacks surrendered in the last two games the ASU front five has also received its fair share of criticism. Center Garth Gerhart is looking for a measure of steadiness from his group.

Through five games the Sun Devils have earned a reputation for turning the ball over and committing a glut of penalties. They've also started to show vast offensive improvements from 2009. The key for this year's Arizona State offense may simply boil down to limiting mental mistakes.

"We didn't execute on offense when we needed to down in the red zone once again," Gerhart confessed. "It's something we'll work on big time this week. We have to fix that, forget about it and move on to this game."

"I think we had some breakdowns at the end of that game. The sack at the very end we had a little breakdown, just a miscommunication. That's just from new guys and new things. But everyone is on the same page. Coach has us all on the same page so whenever someone comes in there we're ready."

Getting back on track won't be easy for the Sun Devils. They head to Seattle to take on a Washington Huskies team that has had its share of ups and downs this year. This past Saturday they went on the road and defeated USC and senior Jack Locker continues to be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country. If ASU plans on hanging around with the Huskies, they're going to need another strong performance on the ground.

(Washington) has some good players, a solid defense. A lot of stuff reminds us of Oregon's defense. They're kind of like them," Observed Gerhart. "We have some great running backs back there. Deantre (Lewis), Cameron (Marshall) and all those guys make us look good. We're working better as a unit this year, staying on our blocks longer and getting a hat for hat. That's a big thing."

Despite Gerhart's modesty, the offensive line has been working hard in the run game and the results are improving because of it. Head coach Dennis Erickson spoke highly of Gerhart after Tuesday's practice.

"Garth is our most valuable guy there," Admitted Erickson. "He runs the show. He's a leader of the offensive front and one of the big leaders on our offense. It's good to have him back at that position because he knows what's going on."

With another road trip looming after this week (with a bye week in the middle), the Sun Devils know how important it is that they get a win this weekend in Seattle. If ASU falls to 2-4 their chances at qualifying for a bowl game will drop vastly.

"It's going to be nice having a bye week," Observed Gerhart. "Six games in a row is a grind. People get sore and it will give us some time for the guys that are injured or not completely healthy to get better. It's just a big game for us. It's always nice to go into the bye week with a win so it's a huge game for us and hopefully we'll use it as a turnaround game."

Each of the last three losses suffered by the Sun Devils could be considered big losses. All the opponents were of high quality and wins against any would have gone a long way in earning ASU some national respect. Many in the media took notice when ASU lost to Wisconsin by one point, but two losses later and even the most loyal Sun Devil fan has to be questioning just how good their team is.

If Gerhart and the rest of the Sun Devils are going to beat Washington, they're going to need to reach deep yet again to overcome another painful letdown.

"It's tough," Gerhart acknowledged. "You lose by one point, three points. Last year I think we lost 5 games by a combined ten points or something like that. It's hard having the heartbreakers. We have to forget about that stuff and keep working. That's why at practice today we had a little players meeting without the coaches where we just talked with each other, trying to keep our morale up and use these practices to get better for the games."

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