Knapp, Sun Devils match made in football heaven

Erickson, Osweiler excited for opener vs. UC Davis from The State Press on Vimeo.

He’s the perfect guy to have around a program — A player in his fifth year enjoying success at a second position.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Dan Knapp began his career at ASU as a tight end.

He made the switch to his current position last year and played in 11 games.

On Monday, coach Dennis Erickson announced that Knapp would start the season opener Thursday against UC Davis at left tackle.

“(Knapp) has played a lot of places and he’s one of our leaders,” he said. “He just wants to win; he’ll do anything to win. You can ask him to play wherever. He’s fought through injuries and I look for him to have a good year.”

Sophomore Evan Finkenberg had practiced at the position for the majority of camp and started 11 games last season.

“It’s going good,” Knapp said. “I seem to be picking it up pretty quick. We all are athletic, quick and big.”

 

Osweiler’s progressions

Last fall, ASU junior quarterback Brock Osweiler lost the starting job to Steven Threet.

But he ended up using the defeat as a positive.

“The life of a backup quarterback is a different world,” he said. “You don’t get too much recognition but at the same time you have to know the game plan as well as the starter.

“You have to put in the same amount of hours as the starter. It’s something every quarterback should go through and I learned a lot from it. I wouldn’t change how anything went down last year for anything.”

The biggest jump from 2010 to 2011 for Osweiler was in his accuracy.

“I was about 50 percent last year, this year I’m over 70 percent,” he said. “I owe a lot of that to (offensive coordinator) Noel Mazzone.

“I try to stay compact and not get lengthy with my mechanics. Being so tall, it’s easy to spread out. I try to stand like a boxer and have everything tight.”

Mazzone’s confidence in his quarterback has grown as a result.

“I just like how he handles himself; he’s got a little moxie about him, which I like,” Mazzone said. “His presence has really gotten better in the pocket.”

Injury update

ASU sophomore running back Deantre Lewis returned to practice Monday after an offseason hamstring injury suffered after a stray bullet hit him.

He didn’t participate in contact drills, but he did catch balls.

Erickson ruled out Lewis for Thursday’s season opener, but the coach is uncertain after that.

“It could be two weeks, it could be a couple months and it could be a year; I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t think anyone knows what he’s going through. It’s not just physically, it’s emotionally too.”

Redshirt freshman cornerback Devan Spann left practice Monday with an apparent shoulder injury.

“Man all it takes is one play for something like this to happen,” he said on his Twitter account.

Spann is second on the ASU depth chart to Osahon Irabor for one of the cornerback spots.

Reach the reporter at tyler.emerick@asu.edu