Koebensky embraces heavy responsibilities at center

Offensive lineman Kody Koebensky waits to snap the ball during the Sun Devils’ spring game last April. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

When people say that linemen are just big players that run into each other, redshirt junior center Kody Koebensky doesn’t take offense. He gets why people might think that though.

“That is how it kind of looks on TV,” Koebensky said. “It’s understandable.”

Koebensky is in his first year as a starting center. It is a position that takes strength, discipline and most importantly a cerebral approach to the game, and it requires Koebensky to be the leader of the blocking scheme.

According to Koebensky, his duties are getting over the ball every down, recognizing the defensive front and calling out every block responsibility. That is not easy to do in a quick no-huddle offense.

Offensive line coach Bob Connelly called the center position an extension of a coach on the field.

“He’s held to a higher standard simply because he is making every line call that I expect to be made to set the targeting for all of our run and pass plays,” Connelly said.

Still think offensive linemen only thump against defensive linemen?

“I think if (fans) were to sit in a film room with us, it would kind of open up their eyes,” Koebensky said.

When Koebensky steps over the ball every down, his head is on a constant swill. He quickly looks for variations in the defense.

If he sees anything unusual — like a linebacker creeping up — he’ll look up, point and alert his teammates.

One missed call by Koebensky, and it could result in a tackle for a loss or a sack. It is a lot of responsibility for the center and he thrives off of it.

“I like the responsibility,” Koebensky said. “I love getting up there and talking. I try to be as knowledgeable as I can. But the more I can see, the more set I’ll have everyone else.”

Koebensky turns and yells out the different blocking calls to his fellow linemen. When he snaps the ball, he trusts that they will do their job.

The offensive line functions at its greatest potential when the group is working together as a cohesive unit, and it all starts with the center.

“We’ve been around each other for a long time now,” redshirt junior offensive lineman Evan Finkenberg said. “We have that chemistry where we can look out there on that field and already know what the calls are going to be.”

Whenever Koebensky leaves the Verde Dickey Dome after practice, his work isn’t over.

With the responsibility of the center position comes the extra work off the field. Koebensky said he spends at least an hour and half each day after practice going over film.

Connelly said he expects Koebensky to put in extra work because they are relying on him to make those calls.

Regardless if the offense uses a run or pass play, the linemen look to the center for pre-snap adjustments.

Koebensky prefers quarterbacking run plays. When it comes to blitz pick up in pass plays, it gets a little bit trickier.

He said pass protection is the aspect of his game that he needs to improve on the most.

“We always want to get better,” Koebensky said. “You never want to see your quarterback get hit in the face by a guy that’s 6-foot-6-inches, 291 pounds. I can always improve on that nothing’s good unless it is perfect.”

To simulate an opponent’s pass rush, Koebensky faces a defense every day in practice that wants to get to the quarterback.

Coach Todd Graham’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme gives the opposing offense a lot of different looks and blitz packages. Koebensky said going up against the ASU defense in practice has improved his blitz pickup skills.

During the play it may appear that Koebensky and the rest of the ASU offensive line are just coming off the ball and hitting their counterparts in front of them.

Watch Koebensky before the play, and it is not just what it looks like.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu