Throughout the podcast years, a primary constant was the ASU Devils Den “Three Tines to the Game”. In honor of the tines on Sparky’s pitchfork, this segment focused on three keys to each and every Sun Devil game. In this case, we cover the three key items for the team to achieve during its trip to Camp T as the last major team bonding moment leading up to the 2015 Advocare Texas Kickoff versus Texas A&M, Saturday September 5, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston.
First Tine of Pre-Season: Finding a Left Tackle to Protect Mike Bercovici’s Blind Side
Dependable, three year Sun Devil starting offensive lineman Jamil Douglas had his talents drafted by South Beach which leaves a huge hole at left tackle. Redshirt freshman Sam Jones played left tackle for most of the spring practice session since redshirt junior Evan Goodman was out due to injury. True freshman Steve Miller has been a summer and preseason camp sensation at left tackle. However, Goodman has been getting early practice repetitions as the starting left tackle. Goodman has the physical tools, but he hasn’t been able to put it together on the field. Goodman has some game experience as a back-up two seasons ago, but the four-star prospect out of Florida must show focus and passion in order to hold off the younger Jones.
Second Tine of Pre-Season: Finding a Right Tackle to Solidify the Line
Tyler Sulka held down this spot for the past two seasons with average results. Junior college transfer and redshirt senior Billy McGehee started throughout the spring and during early preseason practices in Tempe. However, with right guard Vi Teofilo returning from a knee injury, could the Sun Devils move Stephon McCray to left guard pushing starting left guard Christian Westerman out to right tackle? One of Westerman’s strengths is playing in space, but does he have the quick first step to play against edge rushers? McGehee has limited game experience going into his third season in Tempe, but coaches are hopeful that McGehee can do a similar job as Sulka while giving true freshman Zach Robertson more time to develop.
Third Tine of Pre-Season: Dependable 3rd Down Receiver
While the Sun Devils have big play potential all over the offensive side of the ball, there will be times when the Sun Devils have to grind out a drive. For those big third down plays, the Sun Devils must have a go-to receiver to keep the chains moving. While the Sun Devil defense is deeper than in the past, it is always better for the Sun Devil offense to win the time of possession and keep the opponent’s defense on the field. Over the past three years, starting quarterback Taylor Kelly always had a go-to 3rd down play and receiver to keep the chains moving. In 2012 it was tight end Chris Coyle who could beat a linebacker into the flat. In 2013, Kelly had Coyle in the flat or wide receiver Jaelen Strong on a back-shoulder fade, and last season, the Kelly to Strong back shoulder fade was a critical part of the offense. These plays keep the chains moving and tire out the defense which then makes the defense susceptible to the Sun Devil big play skill position players. Who will step up this year when the Sun Devils need it? Can new wide receiver D.J. Foster find a route that he will win the majority of times, or is it transfer wide receiver Devin Lucien?
If these three areas are solidified, the Sun Devil offense could be one of the strongest in the nation. Running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage join quarterback Mike Bercovici in the backfield behind arguable the best interior offensive line in the conference with Westerman, Teofilo, and centered by Nick Kelly.
Comments, questions, or other offensive areas of concern . . . leave us a comment or tweet to us @ASUDevilsDen.