For the majority of the fall, the dome has been home for the ASU football team.
After an intense storm brought the facility – known simply as “the bubble” around the program – to the ground just before ASU’s first game of the season last year, the Sun Devils were forced outside, left only to stare at the wreckage.
This season, with reconstruction complete, the team has been inside the $8.4 million facility for almost every practice, providing a break from the oppressive Tempe heat.
“The sun isn’t beating down on us, so [being inside] kind of keeps us more refreshed,” junior guard Jon Hargis said. “Sometimes it gets a little muggy in there, but it’s constantly 80 degrees in there instead of 105 when you come outside with the sun beating down on you for two hours.”
The indoor facility also gives the Sun Devils an opportunity to practice on FieldTurf, a synthetic surface that many teams play on.
“In my conversations [with the players], it has made a huge difference as far as their energy is concerned,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said of the time spent indoors. “We’ve only had one game, so we’ll find out [what impact the bubble has].”
Hargis has done his fair share of shifting positions across the football field in his time at ASU.
After redshirting in 2006, Hargis spent his first year on the field playing defensive tackle, where he collected 20 tackles and made a key sack on UA quarterback Willie Tuitama in ASU’s 2007 win over the Wildcats to end a 10-2 regular season.
Last season, with thin depth on the offensive line, Hargis shifted to left tackle, where he started all 12 games as the protector of former quarterback Rudy Carpenter’s blindside.
When camp started up this year, Hargis was asked to move again, this time to guard, where his coach said the junior is continuing to make a solid impact.
“He’s been every place, so he knows what’s going on,” Erickson said. “That makes a big difference.”
Playing defense during his first season gave Hargis a chance to see what techniques were employed by the offensive linemen who had his number, he said
Moving inside to guard, though, has meant an emphasis on strength for the 6-foot-3, 312-pound lineman.
“[At guard], you have to get physical, quick,” Hargis said. “At tackle you have to be a little more patient, but at guard guys right across from you are shooting in. Technique-wise you can’t be hunched over; you have to get your hands up pretty quick.”
Erickson said he is excited about the overall improvement he has seen in the offensive line, noting in particular the performance of sophomore Matt Hustad.
With sophomores Garth Gerhart and Zach Schlink set to return from injury in the next couple weeks, the options are opening up for ASU coaching staff.
“We’ve been playing real well together, and we’ve got depth,” Erickson said. “I’m interested to see where we’ll be as we move along.”
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