Crawford and Love Hogging Accolades On the O-Line

This wasn't supposed to be this way. Following a 2001 season where four of the ASU's senior offensive linemen were drafted by the NFL, rebuilding and pessimistic outlook were synonymous with the 2002 Devils' offensive line. Evidently, someone forgot to tell that to the young players manning ASU's front line. Regis Crawford and Grayling Love talk about this year's version of the hogs, and their success this season.

As a junior, Crawford is considered the elder statesman of the group. The 6-3 302 left tackle, isn't terribly surprised at the progression of his unit. "It's natural as the season goes along the whole team gets better, and the offensive line does too. The young guys are getting experience and stepping up like Chaz White, and we're getting back experienced guys from injury like Adrian Ayala. We got a very strong core of players, and we take a lot of pride in our play."

Any time your quarterback passes for 400 plus yards and gets sacked once, the blind side protector on the line, in this case Crawford, will naturally receive a lot of praise. Consequently, the left tackle graded the highest of all players at a 98. However, he's more than happy to deflect the personal recognition on to his line coach and teammates. "We just real confident right now. Coach Grimes teaches us a real good technique, and we're having a lot of repetitions in practice. Every day we work hard in practice, and when we go out there (on game day) we're already ready mentally and physically for the game. Whatever you put in during the week pays off on Saturday."

While the passing game has been on fire the last few games, the running game continues to be somewhat average. The junior agrees, to some extent, with that assessment. "The running game is something we always want to get going. Cornell is running his heart out, so we love blocking for a guy like that. He makes people miss all the time because he's so quick, and he reads the holes correctly…the running game could be better, but it's not bad right now. I think everyone is playing pretty well, but on this team you always set your goals higher. I know we'll be better at running the Football."

As mentioned, last year's line was a very seasoned unit. Ironically, back then Crawford was the puppy of the group, and this year he became the elder statesmen. How has it affected his demeanor? "You have to play well to be respected as a leader. I learned that from the guys last year. You can talk as much as you want acting like a leader, but there's comes a time where you have to play like one. When I played with guys like Levi Jones and Scott Peters, I knew that I couldn't talk much and I had to go out, produce, and show what I can do. So, that's what I'm trying to do with the young guys here. Show them how to play hard, and hopefully they follow your lead. So far they're doing a great job…I would say that myself and Drew (Hodgdon) are the leaders on the line. We've been around and we can teach the guys the tricks of the trade. So, that's the biggest difference for me, having less leaders this year and for me personally stepping up as a leader more than I ever did."

Grayling Love may be listed as a center, but he can play any position on the line. The 6-3 285 lineman has been one of the pleasant surprises on the Sun Devils' offensive line. When we asked him what was the secret about manhandling a talented Cardinal line last Saturday, he said: "I think we outperformed and out dominated Stanford's defensive line. They're a real big and fast defensive line. We were having trouble a few times moving them off the ball, but we started to wear them down. I think our offensive line is in the best shape it's ever been this season. We were able to take it to them, and just pound them."

According to the redshirt freshman, meticulous preparation helped ASU play at the level they did. "We came in with a good game plan, and we were ready to execute it. Everyone was making their assignment reads. There was just great protection (on the quarterback) not only by the line, but also the tight ends and the backs. When we protected Andrew he was able to sit back and just pick apart the defense, and throw at will. We were having a lot of fun out there, especially on those short drives where after two three passes we score a touchdown, and we're sitting on the bench not even sweating (smile). We were wearing down Stanford with the no huddle, they couldn't handle us just passing and passing on each down. It was great when the coaches asks us in the end to just keep running it down their throat and we did. You could just tell that Stanford was tired, and ready to give up."

Love was engaged in a fierce battle with Tony Aguliar for the starting center position, and was barely edged out for the season opener. However, with Aguilar's ongoing injury Love is making a strong case for not relinquishing his first team duties. Nevertheless, he takes the whole playing time issue in stride. "I'm gonna play whenever the coaches need me, and I'll play anywhere on the line. It doesn't matter to me. I just want to be part of the success of the team. If it's being on the sidelines or on the field, I'll do whatever it takes."

It's easy for first year players to get overly confident after a big win, such as the Stanford. When Love talks about that topic, he does sound wiser than his years. "Everybody is excited to get this first Pac-10 win. This is just a stepping-stone in our ladder. We're trying to go undefeated at home, and get a Pac-10 win. So far we accomplished that. Of course we're happy after the win, but we finished our celebrations on Saturday. Sunday we were watching film, and we got back to business and that's preparing for North Carolina. We're expecting a physical game, and we have to play like hogs do to win this game."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories