Arizona State will have one of the youngest and most inexperienced offensive lines in the country this year, but that doesn't mean it's an untalented unit.
The program's head sports performance coach Shawn Griswold thinks it will be a tough puzzle for position coach Chris Thomsen to solve in the month ahead because of how many possibilities there are.
"I think we have a lot of people who can play," Griswold said following the Sun Devils' final summer workout before players report for camp Tuesday. "The hard part for coach Thomsen is who plays and who plays where and fit it in. You look at that group of people and we have more depth than we've ever had. Hopefully you can get some guys to actually play. If you can't start hopefully we can get some guys in the rotation and stuff so you're building more and more toward the future.
"This group has really gelled well together and that's a big part for the offensive line."
An emphasis as been made this summer to trim some weight off the linemen, a decision likely made in part because of new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey's preferred style of play. At Southern Miss the last couple years, Lindsey's offense almost exclusively used zone blocking, an approach that lends itself toward being lighter and more athletic along the offensive front.
"I wanted to lean some guys up and I think you can see that today," Griswold said. "Our [offensive line] guys up front look really, really good. They've made a decision to lose some weight. They're in great shape. If you saw those guys run today they're very lean, very athletic. I'm really pleased with the overall team conditioning. I wanted to get a little stronger upper body-wise and we accomplished that. I know that because on Tuesday we had 57 guys get their personal record on bench, which is good. It's tough to do that in the summer time. Typically you don't see that because you're running so much. It's hard to have good strength in the upper body. We added an extra heavy lift on Fridays just because we're such a young team. I thought we needed it. Hopefully that will help too."
As much as anyone, senior Senior Evan Goodman personifies the offensive line's evolution in 2016. He's cut approximately 15-18 pounds and is now just under 300 pounds, the lightest he's been in his career.
"He's had an incredible seven months, a total transformation," Griswold said of Goodman. "One example would be his 3-cone. It was 8.12 and he ran 7.56 three times this summer. He's done a great job as far as his attitude and being a leader, those kinds of things."
Overall, the Sun Devils are as strong and fit as they've been under Todd Graham and that's attributable to the continuity they've now had.
"This is the first we've ever been anywhere five years except for when I was at Utah State," Griswold said. "So with [senior tight end Kody Kohl], we've taken that kid from start to finish. Usually in today's day and age that doesn't happen a lot. Yesterday he was supposed to do 310 (pound clean) and he was like, 'coach I want to go heavy.' He's a senior, okay, let's do it. He went 330 (pounds) for three. That's impressive for a guy that's gained 25 pounds since last fall too for a guy who has improved all his strength numbers. He squatted 500 for five and it was probably the prettiest of anyone besides [junior running back Demario Richard]."
Breaking the Rock
ASU's final summer workout always culminates with a tradition in which they use a sledge hammer to break a man-made 'rock' tablet that represents the transition to preseason camp. They'll then break another one after every win of the season.
Senior safety Laiu Moeakiola was given the honor of breaking the rock Friday after sharing some thoughts about the upcoming season to his teammates.
"I love you guys," Moeakiola said. "Forget what the Pac-12 thinks. All we know is work. That's all we know. This year we're just going to put our head down, day by day, just rock it, rock it. Nothing said, nothing doing. We just rock it. At the same time, let's have fun man, let's love this."
Smith continues to progress
A serious knee injury and surgery in March of 2015 forced junior wide receiver Cameron Smith to miss the season. He didn't take that time for granted.
Smith focused on his eating habits and becoming hyper-focused on the weight room and rehab. The result: at 202 pounds the 5-foot-11 Smith has just 4 percent body fat, lower than any player Griswold has had at ASU.
The muscularity of Smith makes it look like he's preparing for a body building competition in addition to his anticipated starting role at wide receiver for the Sun Devils.
"I feel like he's really healthy," Griswold said. "He'll probably tell you he's 80 percent just because Cam is a perfectionist. Obviously the discipline he has and the way he eats, it's a good looking 202 (pounds). He power-cleaned 290 three times yesterday too, squatted 455 and benched 355. So he's done a good job getting healthy."
Smith's knee is in good shape per Griswold, though he has been rehabbing a bit of a groin straight. Still, Smith was running without any issues Friday and looked to be improved from even he spring when he was fully cleared.