Koebensky Shows Progress, Prepares to Start

It seems that with each passing week the Sun Devil football team fall victim to another injury, some more severe than others. Unfortunately that ugly trend continued last Saturday night as senior Garth Gerhart went down with an ankle injury early against Oregon State. Thankfully, sophomore Kody Koebensky filled in admirably, helping steer the Sun Devil offense in their 35-20 win over the Beavers.

The loss of Gerhart prompted head coach Dennis Erickson to turn to the young and seldom-used Koebensky early in the contest with the Sun Devils in a precarious situation, trailing Oregon State. Despite that though, Koebensky performed better than most could have expected and the Sun Devil offense was able to awaken from its slumber to rally for their first victory over the Beavers since 2007.

"I guess the coach mentioned I did as best as I could, so you'll have to ask him how I did, I guess," said an exhausted Koebensky after practice on Tuesday evening on his performance. "But, I heard a few 'good jobs' so that was good."

Koebensky, who only saw action in three games last season, admitted that there are still some things that he'll need to work on this week in practice if he plans on having his name called again for this week's matchup with Utah.

"I think one of the things that I need to work on is some of the line game stuff I just need a little more depth," he commented. "But other than that I felt a lot of the stuff I saw pretty well, and Mike Marcisz and Andrew Sampson were helping me out a lot. It's good to have some experienced guys there with me."

During Monday's press conference the redshirt sophomore earned praise from his head coach for performing well despite being thrust into a difficult situation, with the Sun Devil offense sputtering and trailing the Beavers.

"I thought he came in and did a commendable job," commented Erickson. "He'll get better this week just because he's played under fire. He'll have the whole week to probably practice with the first group. I look for him to get better."

Offensive line coach Greg Smith echoed those thoughts as he reflected on the performance of the Scottsdale native, while also pointing out the need for improvement.

"He played okay last Saturday," Smith stated. "It was an eye-opening experience for him. He has two veteran guards playing next to him so that helps him. He didn't disappoint me by any means. He went in and battled and probably played as well as he is capable of playing. Is there a lot of room for improvement? Yes."

Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler, who started the game slow by throwing two first quarter interceptions, applauded the effort of Koebensky, while crediting him for contributing to the Sun Devil comeback.

"Surprisingly, there really wasn't that big of a difference as far as the way I work with the center," he said. "I thought there might be a difference in communication but Kody stepped in and played a tremendous game.

"We slowed down a little bit but then he got a few series under his belt and he played lights out from there on," he added. "That's not easy to replace a guy like Garth, so for Kody to step in and not make any errors in pointing out the right guys he played a great game."

Erickson described the loss of a starting center as one of the more damaging losses to a team's offensive makeup, but remains confident his team can still be successful going forward.

"That position is the hardest position to play in football," he said. "To me, it's almost like losing a quarterback. That's how important that position is because it starts every play. If you don't get the ball back, obviously you can't do anything, besides blocking assignments and those types of things."

Koebensky's performance shouldn't come as too much of a surprise though, as he has been consistently improving since he joined the team. He showed great strides from last year through fall camp, impressing both Smith and other members of the coaching staff.

"He's constantly making improvement," remarked Smith. "The more snaps he gets, the better he gets. He made a big adjustment from spring ball to fall camp and I was pleased with everything he did.

"The problem is he doesn't nearly get as many reps as Garth gets and he had to learn by watching him and watching film."

Koebensky credits his improvement to the coaching style of Smith, while also soaking in any available bit of information from his mentor Gerhart.

"You've just got to go off what coach tells us," remarked Koebensky. "He's a great coach and he shows us pretty much every look we need to see. It's just a matter of us executing it."

With the availability of Gerhart still unknown for the upcoming week, Koebensky took all the first team reps in Tuesday's practice as he prepares to make what could be his first start this Saturday.

"We'll see, I'm preparing," said Koebensky on his chances of starting this weekend at Utah. "I figure the better I prepare, the better things will go. Either way, I still have two really good, experienced guys on the line. And of course Dan (Knapp) is a senior, so we've got a lot of experience there. I think we'll be real good working together."

"He's going to spend more time studying film and with getting all the reps at number one this week he'll be fine," said Smith. "We're not in any kind of panic mode by any means."

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