Confidence and communication on display in ASU's offensive trenches

Experience and trust have led to high expectations for the O-line

High expectations loom around the Sun Devils' O-line as they try to turn last year's problems into positive outcomes with two former rivals becoming allies. 

The additions of grad transfers Casey Tucker (Stanford) and Roy Hemsley (USC) give the Sun Devils' offensive line added Pac-12 experience.

Last season, the Sun Devils finished 123rd in Division I in sacks allowed (41) and 120th in per game average (3.15). 

First year offensive line coach Dave Christensen, said he didn't want to make any hefty changes this year, rather he desired more physicality in the trenches.

“We just want to play at a high level and to be a physical group,” Christensen said. “We want to play physical and finish blocks. I want to execute at a high level and lead this football team.”

One of the key additions for the Sun Devils this off-season was Tucker, a transfer from Stanford who racked up more than 20 starts for the Cardinal in his three years on the team.

Even though Tucker did not participate in the Sun Devils' spring practices, he eventually received a promise from head coach Herm Edwards: a starting spot was waiting for him.

“It was kinda strange but I think it kind of helps me,” Tucker said. “We were talking and I know there was high expectations. Nothing was explicit right off the bat, but he did tell me right before the first practice.”

Tucker said he still felt obligated to earn the spot every day in practice, rather than have it handed to him on a silver platter. 

Christensen has been able to help Tucker with a few kinks in his technique. However, those kinks have not lessened Christensen's opinion of Tucker. 

“He’s had a good camp, practicing well,” Christensen said. “(He's) working on a few technique things that he had to iron out, and he’s doing a nice job with that. He’s made very limited mental errors, so yeah, he’s doing a nice job.”

The offensive line now has multiple players with over 20 starts (Tucker and redshirt senior Quinn Bailey).

“We have a lot of experience back and we add a guy like (Tucker),” Christensen said. “The other guys have all played significant snaps. Zach Robertson has played, one guy that hasn’t played a lot but has had a great camp is (Alex) Losoya. It’s good to have the experience we have.”

Junior Cohl Cabral transitioned from left tackle to center this season, leaving offensive coordinator Rob Likens a little concerned.

“When you are in the spread-shotgun offense, the first thing you think about when you move a guy to center is, 'how the snaps (are) going to be,'" Likens said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, is there some wood to knock on? I’m just saying, the guy has been so consistent with his snaps, he’s blown me away."

Arguably the offensive line's biggest improvement throughout camp has been keeping Wilkins upright. 

“He's way more comfortable, our protection is a lot better,” Bailey said. “He also looks a lot more comfortable and takes his time and looks good.”

Although the protection has progressed, Wilkins wants more than just solid blocking, he wants communication. 

“You gotta be communicating or else it's not going to work out,” Wilkins said. “Just continue to communicate with them and let them know what I see, and what I want to see, what they see, and how they see it, just so we are on the same page.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @SebastianEman5 on Twitter. 

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