Hodgdon Expects More of the Same in Bowl Game

Having several weeks to prepare for a bowl game can sometimes result in implementing a sizeable number of gadget plays to throw off one's opponent. Looking at the evident mismatch between ASU and Kansas State, in their abilities to run the ball and stop the run, one would assume that ASU would load up on the trick plays to combat this disparity. However, Sun Devil offensive lineman Drew Hodgdon says that his team will stick with what brought them this far.

"We're gonna approach this game like we have every game this year." says Hodgdon, "We're gonna try to run the ball and open some things up too. We're not gonna change our style of play just because they play an aggressive style defense." Nevertheless, the offensive lineman recognizes the challenge that his team faces. "Teams had trouble running the ball against them all year. That's just the style of defense that they play – they expect to stop the run first. Hopefully that will open some other doors for us."

The Wildcats effectiveness in halting opponent's running games doesn't bode well for the Sun Devils who've had troubles in their ground game for most of the season. The sophomore doesn't deny those shortcomings, but does see the sliver lining of their efforts. "For any offensive line it's frustrating that when you can't run the ball – that's our bread and butter. We're a young team, and still trying to get it all together. That will just keep on getting better, and I think all year we've grown and gotten better with experience. I know we'll be more successful as time goes on. I hope we can show that we're improved on Friday." The apparent mismatch between Kansas State's run defense and ASU's rushing game could be one of the reasons for the huge odds stacked against the Sun Devils, who will enter Friday's game as a 17-point underdog. Hodgdon realizes that this fact can fire up the team, but overall doesn't seem too concerned with this perceived sign of disrespect. "I think it can be a source of motivation. The coaches haven't really talked a lot about it, but we know that we've been underdogs pretty much all year. We not unaccustomed to it, and we know that we've come on top in the end. So, I don't know if we're gonna pay much attention to that."

It's no secret that some of the Devils' senior offensive linemen last year were allegedly loud voices of dissention when Dirk Koetter and his coaching staff arrived in Tempe. However, a year later the team's cohesiveness is listed as the major factor for the success that ASU has enjoyed this season. Hodgdon says that there's no comparison in the attitude of his fellow linemen between last year and this year. "It's apples and oranges. We're a totally different team. We had a lot of good senior players last year, and they we're frustrated that they couldn't go out with the old coaching staff. It was just hard for them. I'm just part of the younger guys who came in together, and we worked hard in the off-season with our team chemistry. That was our biggest priority, and we took care of that." Many ASU fans were proud that four of the Sun Devils' offensive linemen were drafted in the first four rounds of the 2002 NFL draft. Hodgdon prefers not to think about that accomplishment that he may share at the end of his playing days in the maroon and gold. "That's an after thought. Yeah, I saw a lot of my buddies do that, but I'm focused on the Holiday Bowl this week, and getting to the Rose Bowl next year. That taught is so far from my mind…"

The focus and enthusiasm is evident in his voice, when we asked him about his team's last game of the 2002 season. "We feel great. We feel that we made a lot of progress this week with our game plan and our schemes. We got to relax and have a vacation, and we had good practices. Everything is working out great. We're real excited to go at it on Friday." Hodgdon acknowledges that it would be nicer to spend Christmas at home, but he exclaims, "I guess this is part of the reward for coming to a bowl." And further gratification looms large for Arizona State if they would previal (heavy underdog and all) against Kansas State.

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