ASU's O-Line Coach Acknowledges Shortcomings

A struggling running game, and a near last conference ranking in sacks given up, doesn't bode well for the Sun Devils offensive line. In this exclusive DevilsDigest interview, Offensive Line Coach Jeff Grimes talks candidly about the play of his group.

In recapping the loss to Cal, Grimes said the offensive line has its ups and down during that contest. "Obviously anytime you score points you do some good things on the offensive line, but we had too many bad things. You can't afford to have a great block on one play and a sack on another. The guys are doing good things, but we have to be more consistent." According to the second year ASU assistant coach, there are some obvious reasons for the struggles of the hogs upfront. "It's not only inexperience, but also missed assignments that shouldn't happen at this part of the season. Even though these guys have played a full season, they're still a year or two behind a lot of guys (their opponents). We have a true freshman playing (Chaz White), and you shouldn't be playing offensive line as a true freshman. Four of our five guys are playing their first whole season, and next year they'll be a lot better. There's just so more that goes into confidence, mental capacity, and physical development once you do it for a full year. I think that will show up next year. But on the other hand, they are things they have to do better. Some of it is technical, but the effort has always been there. They're doing everything we're asking them to do, but they need to do it more efficiently."

The team's inability to run the ball is a strain on the whole ASU offense, and especially on the front five players who have to guard against opposing defenses who are fully aware of that deficiency which leads to predictability in the offensive play calling. "When you're behind in the game, and have to throw it on every down – that makes it hard on the offensive linemen. You have the defense there pinning their ears back, slobbering to come down and knock down our quarterback. That's a tough situation to be in. When you're one dimensional, running or passing, that's never good unless you're flat out better than your opponent. That's doesn't come along in this day or age in the conference. It's hard when the defense knows what you're doing and knows how to stop it. That's putting you behind the game."

When we asked him if he sees any progression from the beginning of the season in the unit's pass blocking or run blocking abilities, he replied. "Not really. We would have had an opportunity to run the ball better against Cal in the second half. We were just starting to get going there. When you behind, you don't have the opportunity to run." Some fans express concern over the lack of girth of this offensive group. Grimes however does see the advantages of a trimmed down offensive line. We're not as big as other lines, but we're in better shape and that comes into play when you run the ball at the end of a game.."

Life won't be easier for Grimes' boys as they face a USC Trojans team that ranks second in the Pac-10 it total defense. The ASU coach knows that he has his hands full. "USC is big, physical, and fast. They're good solid Football players. They play with good pad level, and use their hands well. They're good against the run and the pass. They're a great challenge but we're looking forward to it."

Before season start, many ASU fans didn't expect their team to be at 7-4 after 11 games. It was actually the 2003 season when Sun Devil followers believed that the Devils could really make their mark. Thus, one would think that Jeff Grimes would be excited that his offensive line, with all its problems this season, will be one of the strongest units on the team. Grimes' competitive spirit won't let him look that far ahead. "It's not a comfort that we'll be better next year. We'll worry about next year next year. Right now we're trying to win our next game, and that's all that matters. When you lose a game it hurts like hec - you just don't worry about next year. You have to worry about how you beat your next opponent."

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