Szakacsy continues to elevate game

Junior quarterback Samson Szakacsy has had an interesting tenure at Arizona State. The longhaired Camarillo, Calif. product has been through multiple surgeries on his arm, seen two offensive coordinators, two different starting quarterbacks ahead of him and even recorded a start of his own.

In 2009, Szakacsy was able to complete 32 passes on only 50 attempts while throwing four touchdowns and averaging over seven yards a pass. Not bad for a player that is getting ignored by some pundits in the quarterback race.

His first career start came last year against UCLA, a 23-13 loss.

"The UCLA game was cool but against Oregon I played a little better," said Szakacsy. "That was my first real taste of action. For me, it let me know that I could run with these guys and do some damage. That was my first real experience and it left me feeling like I could be great.

"But you have to keep working."

Szakacsy knows the last part of that quote to be true as much as any guy on the Sun Devils roster. After multiple surgeries to his elbow, the signal caller underwent another surgery, this time on his shoulder. Even after all the physical setbacks he maintained an upbeat attitude and now is healthier than ever.

"Well, everything is learning," Szakacsy noted. "It's more that I look at (the injuries) as an opportunity to get better at other things. It's all a learning experience. It made me stronger. It built character. Things are happening for a reason. I trust."

After three days of fall camp it would appear that Brock Osweiler and Steven Threet have a slight edge over Szakacsy as far as earning the starting role. That aforementioned tandem has shared the majority of the snaps with the first team offense, but Szakacsy hasn't let that fact discourage him.

"The other two (quarterbacks) are great," Szakacsy acknowledged. "I've been injured and I just try to worry about getting better. I think everything else will fall the ways it falls and you just have to grind every day."

One factor Szakacsy has working in his favor is his speed and mobility. While both Osweiler and Threet surely have the ability to take off and run, neither of them has the quickness or agility of Szakacsy. In offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's new, spread based offense and with an offensive line that hasn't proven itself yet, a mobile quarterback may be a necessity than a luxury.

"It's fast and I like to play fast," Szakacsy remarked. "I think that's the main thing. I just have to learn it a little better so I can feel more comfortable and pick things up a little bit. Overall, I feel good. The quarterback has the option to run, the option to throw, and the option to give so there is a lot of things and a lot of freedoms. That's kind of how my high school offense was so I'm used to that style."

When asked what specific changes he has noticed in the offense at practices, Szakacsy replied:

"The energy is higher. I feel like it is a lot more competitive now. Guys are believing in the offense and what we're doing and that's awesome. You can tell by the energy."

The past couple of seasons have seen the Sun Devils' defense dominate summer camp, which ultimately materialized in a season of struggles for the offense. This year's camp the offense has started to fight back and was clearly the better unit on the second day of practice.

"I'm sure the defense noticed that we're beating them little more than we used to," Szakacsy commented. "But the defense is great and we're just fortunate to be able to go out against them every day because they're one of the top defenses around.

"We're grateful at the end of the day for that."

One main highlight thus far in camp has been the talent and depth shown at receiver. A mix of returning players, junior college transfers and Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad has the unit flying up and down the field and wowing observers. Asked if he could pick a favorite receiver, Szakacsy politely declined an answer.

"I just throw to whoever's open," he said. "Our receivers are great. You see them out there, everyone is capable of making big plays and we're all confident in all of them. It's more just going through progressions and hitting the guy that's open."

With several weeks before the season starts and nothing definitively decided at quarterback, Szakacsy just might be looking for those receivers during the season opener.

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