Finkenberg savvy beyond his years

With no significant experience behind starting quarterback Brock Osweiler, the Sun Devils will be relying heavily on their veteran offensive line to keep him upright and in games, which puts a lot of pressure on the guys protecting his blindside, notably, sophomore left tackle, Evan Finkenberg.

While he's the only member of the Sun Devil starting five who is an underclassmen, Finkenberg, the redshirt sophomore, is anything but inexperienced. As a redshirt freshman last year, Finkenburg saw action in all twelve games, starting in the final eleven, something he felt he could do from the start.

"I was always expecting that maybe I could (start)," Finkenberg pointed out. "It was a goal of mine when I first came out to college. I just had to keep working hard and it paid off, and I'm still trying to work hard right now. As a team we're working hard and hopefully we'll have a good year.

"I think we've been working well so far. I think the O-line is meshing a lot. We've picked up a lot of blitzes, and I think it's going to help us a lot during the season seeing all those different looks versus our defense."

Working against his team's front seven everyday in practice is anything but an easy task. Therefore, any victory in practice for the guys in the trenches is something to be proud of.

"Sometimes you're just pissed you have to go out there against them, but it's great practice," Finkenberg said. "With the linebacker crew and the front seven we have, we're not going to face anyone better than that in the whole season. Everyday we're working hard against those guys and we're beating them some days, it'll help us for the season."

Sometimes you simply have to fight fire with fire, and to combat the Sun Devils' 2010 woes in the red zone one can expect quarterback Brock Osweiler this season to possibly go under center more often as the offense shifts to a smash mouth mode, if you will, to gain a few but precious yards deep in the opponent's territory.

"I think it'll help us with getting different looks," said Finkenberg about that alignment. "It'll help us have more of a power game in the red zone this year and allow us to do more things."

One thing that front seven of the defense doesn't lack is confidence as they're always hollering, chest bumping, and pumping each other up whenever they make plays. While this is common for defenders, sometimes as the normally no frills offensive lineman you need to match the intensity of the guys you're lined up against.

This isn't something most offensive lineman are known for, but Finkenberg sees his group finding it's "swag" as the offseason has moved along.

"I think we try to improve on that and be more vocal, but most of us are guys that like to perform on the field, and put our head down and do the right thing," Finkenberg said of his group. "We try to pump each other up and we've done that a lot this year.

"It's helped us to get more excited during practice. Some days you come out and it's been a pain and that happens, but we just have to start jumping around and yell a little bit and that helps us out."

The most important thing for offensive lineman is cohesiveness. Without it it's very difficult to stay consistent and makes coordinating protections challenging to say the least. Having all of last season's starters on the front five return as well as work together in the off-season workouts, this unit has seemed to be reaching the level of cohesiveness needed to succeed.

"It's nice because in the past everyone has looked down on the O-line and it hurts your confidence sometimes," Finkenberg admitted, "but we know that last year we used that as pride to make us improve everyday.

"Now this year since we have a lot of guys returning and we want to keep on improving, especially with (giving up) sacks; we shouldn't have been giving up as many as we had last year and I think that's one goal of ours is to give up less sacks.

"I think we have more confidence. We've seen it all, we've all played together in games so we felt each other out, and I think we're just more comfortable out here as a group."

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