O-line making strides before season opener

Building up: Senior offensive lineman Dan Knapp makes a block for junior Brock Osweiler during a game against Washington State last season. Knapp leads a seasoned corps of linemen that has improved during fall practice. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Offensive line continues to improve

The Sun Devils enter the 2011 campaign with a variety of depth and talent on the offensive line. With the regular season opener against UC Davis just two weeks away, offensive line coach Gregg Smith likes what he sees.

“We’re making improvements every day,” Smith said. “We’ve got a couple guys that have been nicked up a little bit so we’ve had to shuffle some guys around. So the more you do that, the more you’re going to be prepared when you get into the season when somebody gets hurt.”

Senior Dan Knapp, freshman Tyler Sulka, junior Andrew Sampson and sophomore Evan Finkenburg have all battled minor injuries in recent days. Smith said Sampson is expected to participate in some activities Thursday while Finkenburg is nursing a hamstring injury and will be limited.

The unit has also been without senior Adam Tello, who is sidelined with a back injury. Tello is expected to return once he regains some of his strength.

Although the season has yet to start, ASU is already benefiting from having a plethora of depth on the line.

“It’s crucial because you’re going to get nicked up and hurt as you go through the year,” Smith said. “The guy behind him has got to be ready to jump in and go play. So the more turns we get with some of these other guys, the better off we’re going to be.”

 

Marshall practices, Robinson remains sidelined

Junior running back Cameron Marshall returned to the practice field yesterday afternoon after sitting out of ASU’s morning practice.

Marshall looks to be a key piece of the ASU offense once again this season. He rushed for 813 yards and nine touchdowns while also tallying 227 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown a season ago.

Meanwhile, senior wide receiver Gerrell Robinson remained sidelined during Wednesday’s practice. Robinson suffered an MCL injury during last Saturday’s scrimmage.

 

Erickson stays out of Miami fiasco

The college football world is currently revolving around Coral Gables, Florida, and the University of Miami, as the Hurricanes as currently under NCAA investigation for numerous violations.

Although ASU coach Dennis Erickson led the Hurricanes to two National Championships in his six seasons as head coach, he is not concerned with the current news in Florida.

“I have been away from there for 18 years,” Erickson said. “I don’t really pay attention. I’ve got enough troubles trying to get my own team ready.”

Although he shied away from questions specific to Miami, the coach does believe the NCAA is cracking down more than they have in the past.

“I would guess that they are looking at it a little more closely than they have in the past,” Erickson said. “It is difficult to see what boosters are doing. We haven’t had any issues here, but it is difficult sometimes because you don’t know.”

 

Upcoming scrimmage

As for Erickson’s current team, the Sun Devils completed their last two-a-day on Wednesday and are looking forward to their scrimmage on Saturday, which will likely reveal a little bit about the team’s progress so far.

“The scrimmage will tell us more about where we’re at,” Erickson said. “We’ve got to go one more time real hard.”

 

Magee out for season

Senior Colin Parker took snaps with the first-team linebackers as he looks to replace senior Brandon Magee, who is out for the season after tearing his Achilles in the team’s last scrimmage. Magee played in all 12 games last season, and started in 11. He finished the year with 73 tackles, enough for second-most on the team, behind only Vontaze Burfict.

Reach the reporters at gdillar@asu.edu and william.boor@asu.edu