Pac-12: Adam Tello

Pac-12 lunch links: Barner bounces back

October, 28, 2011
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Happy Friday.

Lunch links: Arizona wants to have fun

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
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By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.

ASU will rely on college graduates

May, 10, 2011
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Arizona State will feature 10 players next fall who will have already graduated, the school announced Monday.

It would have 11, but quarterback Steven Threet was forced to retire because of concussions. Most of the 10 are either starters or significant contributors, including three starters on the offensive line.

The players are:

Derrall Anderson
Omar Bolden
Jonathan Clark
Garth Gerhart
Dan Knapp
Mike Marcisz
Trent Marsh
Colin Parker
Aaron Pflugrad
Adam Tello
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Two years ago, Adam Tello was a big reason to doubt Arizona State. When he briefly became the starting right offense tackle as redshirt freshman, his ascension revealed just how down the talent on the Sun Devils line was.

Tello didn't pass the sight test. Whatever he was listed at, he looked like he carried about 270 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame. The sight test, of course, isn't always right, but it proved prescient in Tello's case as he struggled mightily in losses to UNLV and Georgia.

"I remember mentally just not being in the right spot," Tello said. "Mentally, I just fell apart. Everything I got thrown into and I just fell apart. It carried over to playing on the field."

[+] EnlargeArizona State offensive line
Matt Kartozian/US PresswireGarth Gerhart (snapping the ball) is Arizona State's most experienced offensive lineman with 10 starts.
His confidence evaporated in the desert heat. He was a non-factor in 2009 -- back problems didn't exactly help, either.

This preseason, however, Tello might be a reason for hope. While he's again ascended to the starting lineup because of roster attrition -- the retirement due to knee injuries of guards Zach Schlink and Matt Hustad and the absence of Jon Hargis due to another knee injury -- he no longer does badly with the site test.

He's a solid 290 pounds. He bench presses over 400 pounds. He looks like a Pac-10 offensive lineman.

"This year I'm ready," he said. "I'm healthy. I got stronger. I got bigger in the weight room."

It all comes down to the offensive line for the Sun Devils. Sure, the quarterback competition is grabbing the spotlight, but Brock Osweiler, Steven Threet and Samson Szakacsy each appear capable of giving the offense at least competent play at the position. Perhaps even more than that. But the line's competency will determine the ultimate trajectory of the season -- either a third-straight losing one or a run to a bowl game.

Make no mistake: There are legitimate reasons to question the line. With four career starts, Tello will be the Sun Devils second most experienced lineman behind center Garth Gerhart (10 starts). Left tackle Dan Knapp is a converted tight end. Right tackle Evan Finkenberg is a redshirt freshman. Right guard Brice Schwab is a JC transfer.

There isn't anyone on the team who hasn't heard the doubts about the line. While many players and coaches feign ignorance when asked about preseason rankings and skeptical media reports, Gerhart admits he reads just about everything. No, he doesn't like it or agree with it.

"It's real frustrating," he said. "You always see this stuff, 'Oh the offensive line is terrible! They're struggling!' It kills you because you know that you're that person they're talking about. But I think we might change people's minds about what they think of the offensive line at Arizona State."

Both Tello and Gerhart know there's an easy way to find out what their chances are this season: Block their own defense. The Sun Devils front seven should be one of the best in the Pac-10. That's been hit or miss thus far, but a new spread offense, which features a quick-hit passing attack, and better (read: faster) depth at the skill positions, should make life easier up front.

Gerhart also knows how fast teams can turn things around (in either direction). He and brother -- you may have heard of a former Stanford running back named Toby Gerhart -- used to talk on the phone in 2007. The Sun Devils were headed to a 10-win season. Stanford finished 4-8 after going 1-11 the year before.

"He used to tell me how it sucked, how he hated it and how happy he was that baseball season was coming around," the younger Gerhart recalled. "But [last year] he started telling me they were going to surprise people, and sure enough, they surprised everybody."

Will the Sun Devils surprise folks in 2010? Only if Tello, Gerhart and their linemates dramatically improve over the past two seasons.

The good news is they at least look like they could do it.

More injury issues at UCLA, Arizona State

August, 12, 2010
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Projected starters at UCLA and Arizona State are done of the season.

Sun Devils junior offensive lineman Matt Hustad has opted to retire after he couldn't beat recurrent knee problems. That means the two guards listed No. 1 on the preseason depth chart have ended their careers in the early days of fall camp due to injury: Hustad and Zach Schlink. And that doesn't included returning starter Jon Hargis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the spring.

Meanwhile, at UCLA, the foot injury defensive end Datone Jones suffered Tuesday is worse than originally thought and could end his season.

The Sun Devils are reshuffling their line, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic:
With Hustad out, the Sun Devils changed their line Tuesday, moving 6-foot-7, 345-pound junior Brice Schwab to right guard. Junior Adam Tello was at left guard Wednesday, with junior Dan Knapp and redshirt freshman Evan Finkenberg at the tackles. If that line stays intact, ASU's front will open the season with just 14 career starts, 10 coming from center Garth Gerhart.

As for UCLA, Jones could still come back this season, though he has a redshirt year available. He will be replaced in the lineup by Nate Chandler, who played tight end last year and defensive tackle during spring practices.

Arizona State loses two to injury

August, 3, 2010
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Arizona State issues on the offensive line just got a little worse.

Sophomore Zach Schlink, listed No. 1 at right guard on the preseason depth chart, has opted to "retire" due to longstanding knee problems.

The math up front for the Sun Devils isn't encouraging: When guard Jon Hargis went down with a knee injury during spring practices, that left only center/guard Garth Gerhart as a returning starter from a 2009 unit that struggled.

It's likely that sophomore Adam Tello will replace Schlink with the No. 1 offense. The other starting guard, junior Matt Hustad, also has battled knee injuries throughout his career. He started five games in 2009 before a knee injury ended his season. He also missed the 2008 season with a knee injury.

Schlink's promising career never really got started. The sophomore, who saw significant action as a true freshman, has required four knee operations and didn't play last season.

Also seeing his Sun Devils career end due to injuries is defensive tackle Otis Jones, but his loss is not as painful because ASU is deep at defensive tackle, where Jones was slated to be a reserve.

Tuitea leads Sun Devils in weight room

May, 17, 2010
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Arizona State's Toa Tuitea, a sophomore defensive tackle, has been named the Sun Devils' "Hard Hat Program Champion," which recognizes his work in the football program's strength and conditioning program.

He topped a list of 48 Sun Devils who were honored.

A news release from the school said the "Hard Hat Program was created to reward those individuals who do what's right in the weight room even when no one is looking ... a Hard Hat Player is someone who is self-motivated, a competitor, committed to personal and team excellence, dependable, accountable, disciplined and most importantly, puts the team first."

To become a Hard Hat Player, a player has to achieve a certain point total during winter workouts. He earns points based on his effort for strength training, speed development and conditioning sessions. They are also awarded points for competitive events and performing extra workouts in the "Blitz Package Program." Each athlete is evaluated after every workout by the sports performance staff with input from an athlete's position coach when applicable.

The list of the honored includes: Corey Adams, Derrall Anderson, George Bell, Omar Bolden, Jarrid Bryant, Mike Callaghan, Jonathan Clark, Chris Coyle, Dean DeLeone, Eddie Elder, Steven Figueroa, Evan Finkenberg, Clint Floyd, Garth Gerhart, Lawrence Guy, Jon Hargis, J.J. Holliday, Matt Hustad, Osahon Irabor, Patrick Jamison, Keelan Johnson, Brandon Johnson, Anthony Jones, Kyle Johnson, Cameron Kastl, Ronald Kennedy, Dan Knapp, Trevor Kohl, LeQuan Lewis, Shelly Lyons, Cameron Marshall, Shane McCullen, Jamal Miles, Bo Moos, James Morrison, Gerald Munns, Brock Osweiler, Aaron Pflugrad, Cole Rarrick, Jamarr Robinson, Andrew Sampson, Zach Schlink, Max Smith, Adam Tello, Steven Threet, Matthew Tucker and Thomas Weber.

Starters or key contributors who didn't make the list (for whatever reason, including injury or excused absence) include: linebacker Vontaze Burfict, receiver Gerell Robinson, receiver Kerry Taylor, defensive end James Brooks, defensive tackle Williams Sutton, defensive tackle Saia Falahola, defensive end Greg Smith and linebacker Brandon Magee.

What to watch in the Pac-10 this spring

February, 19, 2010
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Taking a look at what to watch for as teams head into spring practices, officially ringing the bell on preparations for the 2010 season.

Arizona
Spring practice starts: March 5
Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

The new coordinators: The Wildcats lost two outstanding coordinators -- Sonny Dykes on offense and Mark Stoops on defense -- and decided to replace them with four guys. Tim Kish, promoted from linebackers coach, and Greg Brown, hired away from Colorado, will run the defense, while Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell, both promoted from within, will run the offense, with an assist from new quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo. These guys will need to develop a coaching rhythm this spring that will ensure things go smoothly in the fall.

The JC linebackers: The Wildcats must replace three starting linebackers, and JC transfers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo weren't brought in to watch. If they step into starting spots, then guys like sophomore Jake Fischer, redshirt freshman Trevor Erno and redshirt freshman Cordarius Golston can fight over the third spot and add depth.

Foles 2.0: Quarterback Nick Foles was dynamic when he was on last year, but the shutout loss in the Holiday Bowl served as a reminder that he's not there yet. He's going to be surrounded by a lot of weapons at the skill positions, so he should be able to take another step forward this spring, even with the loss of Dykes.

Arizona State
Spring practice starts: March 30
Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

The QB battle: It's a wide-open battle between Michigan transfer Steven Threet and Brock Osweiler, though the new guy -- Threet -- is perhaps the most intriguing. Samson Szakacsy was supposed to join the battle, but his elbow problem is acting up again, coach Dennis Erickson said Thursday. The competition will be overseen by new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who's been handed an offense that has sputtered the past two seasons.

O-line issues (take 3): The Sun Devils' offensive line has struggled three years running, and it won't matter who starts at QB if the unit continues to get pushed around. First off is health. Will Matt Hustad, Zach Schlink, Garth Gerhart, Mike Marcisz and Adam Tello be ready to battle the entire spring? If so, there should be good competition here, particularly with a couple of JC transfers looking to break through.

The secondary: The Sun Devils were very good against the pass last year, but three starters in the secondary need to be replaced. Both starting corners are gone -- though if Omar Bolden successfully returns from a knee injury he should step in on one side -- as well as strong safety Ryan McFoy. The good news is a number of guys saw action here last fall, so the rebuilt unit won't be completely green.

California
Spring practice starts: March 6
Spring game: N/A

What to watch:

Embattled Riley: When things go well, the quarterback often gets too much credit. When things go badly... well, you know. Senior Kevin Riley has started 22 games and has played well at times. But there's a reason he's in a quarterback competition for a third consecutive season. Will he be able to hold off a rising Beau Sweeney this spring?

Rebuilding the D: The Bears had questions on defense even before coordinator Bob Gregory unexpectedly bolted for Boise State. Five starters need to be replaced, including mainstays like end Tyson Alualu and cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, both first-team All-Pac-10 performers. And with Gregory gone, a new, likely more aggressive scheme now must be incorporated.

RB depth: Shane Vereen is the obvious starter after the departure of Jahvid Best, but Cal has, during the Tedford years, always used two backs. So who's the No. 2? Sophomore Covaughn DeBoskie was third on the team with 211 yards rushing last year, while promising freshman Dasarte Yarnway redshirted. One or the other will look to create separation.

Oregon
Spring practice starts: March 30
Spring game: May 1

What to watch:

The D-line: The Ducks lost perennially underrated end Will Tukuafu, tackle Blake Ferras and backup Simi Toeaina up front. Considering the plan is to run an eight-deep rotation, there will be plenty of opportunities for players like ends Terrell Turner and Taylor Hart and tackles Anthony Anderson, Zac Clark, Wade Keliikipi as well as 6-foot-7 JC transfer Isaac Remington to work their way into the rotation.

The passing game: The Ducks' passing game was inconsistent last year, though by season's end receiver Jeff Maehl was playing at a high level. Refining that part of the offense with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli would make the spread-option even more dangerous. The receiving corps is looking for playmakers, which means youngsters, such as redshirt freshman Diante Jackson, might break through.

Who steps in for Ed Dickson? Oregon only loses one starter on offense, but tight end Ed Dickson is a big one. David Paulson was a capable backup last year, and mercurial Malachi Lewis may be ready to step up. Expect JC transfer Brandon Williams to work his way into the mix.

Oregon State
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring game: May 1

What to watch:

Katz steps in: Sean Canfield is off to the NFL, so the Beavers' biggest question this spring is crowning a new starting quarterback. Most observers feel the job is Ryan Katz's to lose, and the sophomore looks good throwing the rock around. Still, being a quarterback is about more than a good arm. If he falters, Virginia transfer Peter Lalich might offer an alternative.

Better defensive pressure: The Beavers run a high-pressure defensive scheme, so when the stat sheet says they only recorded 17 sacks in 2009, which ranked ninth in the conference and was 22 fewer than in 2008, you know something is wrong. The entire defensive line is back, so the hope is a year of seasoning, particularly for ends Gabe Miller, Matt LaGrone and Kevin Frahm will mean better production this fall.

The O-line grows up: The Beavers' offensive line returns four starters from a unit that got better as the year went on. Still, it yielded 29 sacks and the run game struggled at times -- Jacquizz Rodgers often had to make yards on his own. Talented left tackle Michael Philipp, who did a solid job as a true freshman starter, should be much improved. A second year playing together with underrated senior center Alex Linnenkohl also should help.

Stanford
Spring practice starts: March 1
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

Replacing Toby: How do you replace Toby Gerhart and his 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns? You do not. But the hope is sophomores Tyler Gaffney and Stepfan Taylor and senior Jeremy Stewart will provide a solid answer that keeps the Cardinal's power-running game churning. It helps to have four starters back from a good offensive line.

Rebuilding the D: If you toss in linebacker Clinton Snyder and end Erik Lorig, Stanford must replace six defensive starters from a unit that ranked near the bottom of the conference in 2009. The secondary is a particular concern after giving up 23 touchdown passes and a 63 percent completion rate. The hope is good recruiting from coach Jim Harbaugh will provide better athleticism in the back-half. Another issue: There was huge coaching turnover, particularly on defense during the offseason, so new coordinator Vic Fangio & Co. will be implementing new schemes and learning about what sort of talent they have to work with.

Luck steps up: This was Gerhart's team in 2009. Now it's Luck's. He might be the most talented QB in the conference. Heck, he might become a Heisman Trophy candidate before he's done. But life won't be as easy without defenses crowding the line of scrimmage because they are fretting about Gerhart. Luck will need to step up his game -- and leadership -- to meet the challenge.

UCLA
Spring practice starts: April 1
Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

Prince becomes king? The fact that offensive coordinator Norm Chow has been such an advocate for sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince should tell you something: He's got the ability. Prince flashed some skills during an injury-plagued 2009 season, and it's important to remember he was a redshirt freshman playing with a questionable supporting cast, particularly the O-line. Prince needs to improve his decision-making, and the passing game needs to develop a big-play capability that stretches defenses.

Front seven rebuilding: UCLA not only must replace six starters on defense, it must replace six guys everyone in the Pac-10 has heard of. And five of the lost starters come from the front seven, and the guys who were listed as backups on the 2009 depth chart won't necessarily inspire confidence. In other words, the Bruins will try to take a step forward in the conference with what figures to be an extremely green defense, particularly up front.

The running game? Know what would help Prince and a young defense? A better running game. The Bruins were significantly better in 2009 than in 2008, but that merely means one of the worst rushing attacks in the nation moved up to ninth in the conference. There's a logjam of options at running back -- with a couple of dynamic runners in the incoming recruiting class -- and the offensive line welcomes back a wealth of experience. It would mean a lot if the Bruins could boost their rushing total to around 150 yards per game (from 114.6 in 2009).

USC
Spring practice starts: TBA
Spring game: TBA

What to watch:

Welcome, Lane Kiffin: The Pete Carroll era is over. Enter Lane Kiffin & Co. In terms of scheme, things will be fairly consistent, seeing that Kiffin was formerly Carroll's offensive coordinator and Monte Kiffin was Carroll's defensive mentor. But there will be a period of adjustment. The guess is the hyper-intense Ed Orgeron might provide a bit of a shock to the D-linemen.

Matt Barkley Year 2: Barkley won't have the president of his fan club -- Carroll -- around anymore. He's a true talent. Everyone knows that, even without Carroll's daily sonnets about his ability. But the numbers show he threw 14 interceptions in 12 games vs. 15 TD passes last year, so he's obviously not arrived. Kiffin runs the offense, so you can expect these two to work closely together. Barkley will have plenty of help on offense, but the talent won't be as good as it was in 2009, with six starters needing to be replaced, including his top two targets (receiver Damian Williams and tight end Anthony McCoy).

Secondary questions: All four starters from the defensive backfield are gone, including center fielder Taylor Mays. It helps that cornerback Shareece Wright, an academic casualty in 2009, will be back. He was a projected starter last fall. There's plenty of talent on hand, but last year's team proved that the Trojans don't always just plug-and-play.

Washington
Spring practice starts: March 30
Spring game: April 30

What to watch:

Unleashing Locker: The return of quarterback Jake Locker was the best news any Pac-10 team received this offseason. Locker's passing improved dramatically in just one year under coach Steve Sarkisian, so it's not unreasonable to expect him to be even better in 2010, particularly with nine starters back on offense and just about every skill player on the depth chart.

Replacing Te'o-Nesheim: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim was a four-year starter who blossomed into an All-Pac-10 performer despite almost no supporting cast. He led the Huskies with 11 sacks in 2009, which was 8.5 more than any other player. Also, opposite end Darrion Jones is gone, and the cast at the position is extremely young. Who's the next pass-rushing threat?

The Butler did it: Linebacker Donald Butler blossomed last year, earning second-team All-Pac-10 honors and leading the Huskies in tackles and tackles for loss (15.5). Toss in E.J. Savannah's failure to earn a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, and the Huskies have some questions at linebacker. Mason Foster is a sure thing at one outside position, and Cort Dennison likely will fill a second gap, but there's an opportunity for a young player to fill void No. 3.

Washington State
Spring practice starts: March 25
Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

Tuel time: Coach Paul Wulff decided that freshman Jeff Tuel was the Cougars' quarterback of the future last year, so he opted to start him instead of going with a redshirt season. Tuel showed promise in six games, completing 59 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and five picks. Most of his supporting cast is back on offense, so the expectation is the Cougars' offense could take a significant step forward this fall.

O-line intrigue: Some of the Cougars starting on the offensive line last fall didn't look like Pac-10 players. Injuries and youth made the line a glaring area of weakness, even with veteran Kenny Alfred at center. Alfred is gone, but the expectations are that last year's youth will be saltier after taking their knocks. Plus, a couple of juco additions should be in the mix for starting jobs.

Growing up: There is hope in that 19 starters are back from a team that played a lot of underclassmen in 2009. That youth should mature in 2010. And solid recruiting classes the past two seasons should offer an infusion of young promise.

Georgia a big measuring stick for Arizona State

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
1:44
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State has been utterly dominant while winning its first two games. The Sun Devils' defense is ranked No. 1 in the nation. The offense ranks ninth with 44 points a game.

Now, take that information, crumple it up and throw it out the window. Coach Dennis Erickson knows that pounding on Idaho State and Louisiana-Monroe means little.
Matt Kartozian/US Presswire
Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium will be Danny Sullivan's first start on the road.

A trip to No. 17 Georgia on Saturday? That's a bit of an upgrade in competition.

"We'll find out a little bit more about what we are as a team, that's the bottom line," Erickson said. "It doesn't matter who they are or what their rank is. We're [asking] right now, 'where are we at as a football team?'"

Erickson repeated variations of those sentiments to a variety of questions: Georgia will be a measuring stick for the Sun Devils.

If they manage to win, or least keep things competitive into the fourth quarter, they might become a top-half of the Pac-10 team, though the Bulldogs probably aren't in the class of California or USC this season.

If they can't keep up, then Arizona State likely falls in with the gaggle of teams scrapping for six wins and bowl eligibility in the lower-middle, bottom-third of the conference.

Of course, one game, win or lose, doesn't a season make. It's possible the Sun Devils in Athens, Ga., won't be anything like the Sun Devils in November. Still, this is the first chance to evaluate Arizona State against a first-rate BCS conference team.

Georgia opened a can of whup butt on the Sun Devils last year, the 27-10 count not doing justice to the Bulldogs dominance.

Georgia took a 21-3 lead into halftime and mostly coasted home. They outrushed the Sun Devils 176 yards to 4 and outgained them overall 461-212.

"They pretty much dominated us," Erickson said. "We didn't play very well and they played well."

The first question is how Arizona State quarterback Danny Sullivan will handle his first start on the road in one of the nation's tougher venues -- "Between the Hedges" at Sanford Stadium.

That's impossible to say. Sullivan is a senior, but the last time he faced a fast, elite defense, he crumbled after coming off the bench in 2008 at USC.

While the Georgia defense doesn't compare to USC -- it's given up 34 points per game -- two of those games were on the road, so the home crowd should help.

"Until you go in there and experience it, you just don't know," Erickson said.

On the other hand, this is a different group of Sun Devils. The defense is deeper and faster than last year's and, while there's lots of experience, a youth movement led by tackles Lawrence Guy, a sophomore, and William Sutton and Corey Adams as well as linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- all true freshmen -- is most intriguing.

Yet the biggest difference might be on the offensive line.

In 2008, the Sun Devils started converted defensive lineman Jon Hargis at left tackle and 289-pound redshirt freshman Adam Tello at right tackle. Things didn't go well for either.

A far more experienced Hargis is now the left guard, while Tello is his backup. NFL prospect Shawn Lauvao moved out to left tackle, while guard Matt Hustad and tackle Tom Njunge give the Sun Devils far more athleticism on the right side. Neither was healthy last year.

Is it a great offensive line? No. But last year's unit didn't have a chance -- the Sun Devils ranked 113th in the nation in rushing and surrendered 34 sacks (109th in the nation). This time around, it might.

"We're much more solid, we have more depth," Erickson said. "We're playing a little bit better, technique-wise and so forth. We made some moves to get our best players in the right positions. As we go through the next 10 weeks, if we lose a guy or two, we'll put people out there who play pretty well. I like where we're at. Are we a great offensive line? No, but we're getting better all the time and we're better now than we were at this time last year."

Georgia, meanwhile, entered the season having to replace running back Knowshon Moreno and quarterback Matt Stafford, NFL first-round picks who dominated the action in last year's game. The Bulldogs seem to be getting their legs under them after opening with a loss at Oklahoma State. They had just 257 total yards against the Cowboys but piled up 530 yards Saturday in their win over Arkansas.

"Joe Cox is playing extremely well at quarterback," Erickson said. "The last two weeks, I didn't see any drop-off."

A key matchup will be Bulldogs sophomore receiver A.J. Green against the Sun Devils secondary, particularly cornerback Omar Bolden. Last year, Green dominated Bolden, catching eight passes for 159 yards and a touchdown.

Erickson's advice to his team on handling the frenzy of a road game in an SEC stadium? Have fun.

"You talk to our players about it and they're excited to go down there and experience [that]," he said. "It's going to be fun; they're looking forward to it."

Sounds like the Sun Devils are eager to find out who they really are in 2009.

As O-line goes, so goes Arizona State

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
1:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

While quarterback uncertainty is the focal point for most Arizona State fans -- is senior Danny Sullivan up to the job? -- it won't matter who plays quarterback if the Sun Devils stink up front again.

Coach Dennis Erickson believes things might turn around because his linemen are healthier, more experienced and have "a chip on their shoulder."

Why a chip? "They can read," he said.

Here's something to read: There's reason for hope. The depth chart looks nothing like last year.

Shawn Lauvao, the Sun Devils' best lineman, has moved from guard to left tackle. Garth Gerhart has passed Thomas Altieri at center. Jon Hargis has moved from left tackle to left guard. Adam Tello, who was overwhelmed as a redshirt freshman while starting the first four games at right tackle, is a reserve guard.

The only departed starter is right guard Paul Fanaika. Zach Schlink is the front-runner there ahead of Mike Marcisz, though both were out with injuries Thursday.

A guy to watch is Matt Hustad, a talented sophomore who missed all of last year with a knee injury. He could challenge Tom Njunge, who started four games in 2008, at right tackle or move inside to guard.

"I feel like if I stay healthy anything is possible," Hustad said. "I'm real confident in my skills."

"Healthy" is the operative word. Hustad, Schlink, Tello, Marcisz and Altieri each missed all or some of spring practices.

"I got to be pretty good friends with all the guys who were injured but other than that, it's no fun to sit out while you see all your friends are there getting better," Hustad said. "Since I've been injured, I've kind of been missing the whole 'team' mentality."

So far so good with Hustad.

The lack of depth last year had Tello starting on the edge at less than 290 pounds. This year, there's an extra year of maturity for all and the new depth means competition.

But only if folks stay healthy.

The news is good for Arizona State

July, 29, 2009
7/29/09
9:43
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

There's a lot of Arizona State information packed into this story from Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic, and nearly all of the news is good.

The Sun Devils are almost entirely healthy, Metcalfe reports, other than defensive tackle Otis Jones. The key thing there is the availability of offensive linemen who were banged up before and during spring practices: Zach Schlink, Adam Tello, Matt Hustad, Mike Marcisz and Thomas Altieri.

ASU's season probably hinges on how much the O-line improves, even more than how well things go at quarterback.

Further, folks around the program continue to believe super-recruit Vontaze Burfict will qualify academically. If so, the prep All-American linebacker figures to be in the mix to either start or see significant action.

Still, having seen how things often go with the NCAA Clearinghouse, the Sun Devils might want to continue to rub their rabbits' feet on that one.

ASU's Lauvao a workout and good-works warrior

July, 9, 2009
7/09/09
12:24
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona State fans don't need to worry about Sun Devils offensive tackle Shawn Lauvao spending so much of his time this summer mentoring young people. He's not going to fall behind in the weight room for any reason.

 
  Photo by Kevin Terrell/Getty Images
  Arizona State guard Shawn Lauvao is balancing his work outs and charity work this offseason.
Unless you think a 500 pound bench press and 675 pound squat is falling behind.

While Lauvao did work at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes sports camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., and an Athletes in Action camp on the campus of Colorado State, he still made his 6 a.m. workouts with the rest of the Sun Devils offensive line.

That maligned unit, which has struggled the past two seasons, decided that joint early workouts would build camaraderie. He and the rest of the Sun Devils are eager to put a 5-7 campaign in 2008 behind them.

"I want to say last year was a fluke," Lauvao said.

Lauvao, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior, is the Sun Devils best blocker, which is why he switched from guard to tackle this spring. He believes a lack of experience and injuries made the line vulnerable last year.

"That's the biggest thing," he said. "We have a lot of ballers but you'd be surprised what injuries do."

The hope is the line will be far deeper and athletic if Matt Hustad, Zach Schlink and Adam Tello all make successful returns from injuries that knocked them out of spring practices.

The other big question for the Sun Devils is how well quarterback Danny Sullivan will play after four up-and-down years with Rudy Carpenter leading the offense.

"He's really stepped it up," Lauvao said. "He realizes his clock is running down and this is his opportunity. He's really taken the reins and been a vocal leader, making guys accountable. He's really elevated his play. He's taken the initiative and handled the situation well."

As for Lauvao off the field, he earned a degree in educational sociology in three and a half years and is now pursuing his master's degree in secondary education. He said he wants to mentor and coach young people when he's done with football, perhaps as a high school teacher.

In other words, he's not just dabbling when he volunteers.

"I kind of wish I did more," he said. "To have that type of positive influence can go a long way, pushing kids in the right directions instead of them believing, 'I don't have any options. I don't have anything to believe in.'"

Hard work and, Lauvao said, strict parenting got him where he is today. He noted that he only weighed 185 pounds as a high school sophomore and didn't play football until his junior year at Farrington High in Honolulu, where he was a two-time Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Now he's a top candidate for All-Conference honors and could play his way into the first day of the NFL draft.

But first he wants to get the bad taste of 2008 out his mouth and be part of an offensive line renaissance in Tempe.

"Last year was unacceptable," he said.

Need areas heading into summer

May, 26, 2009
5/26/09
10:04
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Every team enters spring practices with at least a couple of personnel questions, even those with their starting lineup returning nearly intact.

Sometimes those questions get answered. Other times they don't.

Such as...

Arizona: The Wildcats didn't walk away from spring practices worried about their quarterback spot -- Matt Scott and Nick Foles acquitted themselves fairly well. But if you look up and down the depth chart, quarterback is where you eyes linger. Yes, Willie Tuitama's shoes are big.

Arizona State: You, of course, know what's coming. Sorry to be a broken record: offensive line. Matt Hustad, Zach Schlink and Adam Tello have to get healthy and the entire unit needs to get good or the Sun Devils won't bounce back.

California: It's as simple as this: If the Bears get solid -- not spectacular, solid -- play at quarterback, this is a top-10 team. And quarterbacks can do a lot in the offseason to firm up their foundation on the team (hint, hint).

Oregon: The Ducks lost three multi-year starters from the offensive line to the NFL. Projected starters Bo Thran and C.E. Kaiser sat out spring practices. In their absence, the O-line mostly got stuffed. If Steve Greatwood works his magic again, the offense again hits ludicrous speed. If not...

Oregon State: The Beavers lost two multi-year starters at cornerback to the NFL. The secondary got burned throughout spring, though there was some redemption in the spring a game. The general feeling is there's plenty of athleticism here, but recall that it took a while for Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes to become Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes.

Stanford: Let's just go ahead and say that Andrew Luck is going to be an outstanding quarterback. So who's going to catch the ball? There's plenty of experience at receiver and there some athleticism, but you ain't it until you do it.

UCLA: Much like Arizona State, this one is embarrassingly predictable, but Bruins fans are well-aware that their season hangs on getting at least adequate play on the offensive line. Injuries clouded the issue during the spring, so the hope is a clean bill of help will bring significant improvement.

USC: The Trojans need a kicker, but we're going to go with quarterback. While it's easy to be impressed by the talent and spring performances of Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley, they still haven't done squat when the lights are on.

Washington: An 0-12 team has a lot of need areas, but the Huskies must replace both specialists. As any coach will tell you, special teams are critical, and here's a guess that at least a couple of games will swing one way or the other for the Huskies, depending on how good their answers are at kicker and punter.

Washington State: Only one starter, tackle Toby Turpin, returns on the defensive line, a position that was a decided weakness in 2008 in any event. After spring practice, redshirt freshman end Cory Mackay, who'd played well during spring practices, suffered a serious back injury in an automobile accident. Young and unproven players will need to step up. And the Cougs are due for some good fortune.

Arizona State spring wrap-up

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
9:40
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona State Sun Devils

2008 overall record: 5-7

2008 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense: 6; Punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

OT Shawn Lauvao, K Thomas Weber, DE Dexter Davis, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Mike Nixon, CB Omar Bolden

Key losses

QB Rudy Carpenter, OL Paul Fanaika, WR Michael Jones, FS Troy Nolan

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Dimitri Nance* (410)
Passing: Rudy Carpenter (2,493)
Receiving: Michael Jones (744)
Tackles: Mike Nixon* (90)
Sacks: Dexter Davis* (11)
Interceptions: Mike Nixon* (5)

2009 Schedule

Sep. 5 Idaho State
Sep. 19 Louisiana-Monroe
Sep. 26 at Georgia
Oct. 3 Oregon State
Oct. 10 at Washington State
Oct. 17 Washington
Oct. 24 at Stanford
Oct. 31 California
Nov. 7 USC
Nov. 14 at Oregon
Nov. 21 at UCLA
Nov. 28 Arizona

Spring answers

1. Some line answers: Arizona State's 2009 may swing on the improvement of its offensive line, and two moves appear to be paying off. First, Shawn Lauvao moved from guard to left tackle. He's the Sun Devils' best blocker, and coaches believe he's an all-conference candidate. Also, sophomore Garth Gerhart, brother of Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, eclipsed senior Thomas Altieri at center.

2. Safety in McFoy: The Sun Devils' biggest void on defense was the safety spot vacated by Troy Nolan, but senior Ryan McFoy, who's bounced back and forth from the secondary and linebacker, looks like he's found a home. He's athletic, a big hitter and he could be the final piece on a defense that figures to be fairly stout.

3. Sullivan steps up: While senior Danny Sullivan hasn't won the quarterback job just yet, he's the heavy favorite to do so in the fall, replacing four-year starter Rudy Carpenter. Sullivan had plenty of doubters heading into spring, but he showed improved athleticism, a good and accurate arm, and his knowledge of the offense put him ahead of his competitors. Most importantly: His solid performance probably boosted confidence all around -- his as well as his coaches' and teammates' confidence in him.

Fall questions

1. Line needs to get healthy: Three potential offensive line starters -- Matt Hustad, Zach Schlink and Adam Tello -- need to get healthy. Each sat out the spring, and Hustad, perhaps the best of the lot, in particular, is a concern. If all three are healthy, the Sun Devils' line may improve dramatically. If one or two don't, then things will be pretty thin -- again -- up front.

2. A tangled Weber is weaved: Thomas Weber is one of the nation's best kickers, but he's only an OK punter. He doesn't mind doing both jobs, but the coaches think he'll be better at kicking if he concentrates on that. So there's been an ongoing search to find someone to beat him out at punter. That search continues because no one was able to consistently boot the ball better than Weber.

3. Will the frosh deliver? At least a couple of incoming freshmen are expected to help immediately, particularly touted linebacker Vontaze Burfict and defensive tackle Corey Adams. If they arrive in shape, ready to play and as talented as advertised, they should at least provide some much-needed depth. And then the Sun Devils' defense could really make some noise this fall.

'Mellow Tello:' ASU's new offensive tackle

August, 5, 2008
8/05/08
12:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The newest member of perhaps the most doubted unit in the Pac-10 didn't seem terribly anxious after his first practice Monday.

Adam Tello, Arizona State's newly promoted right tackle, fielded question like he'd been conducting interviews for years. His apparent stress level over joining a line that's rebuilding after surrendering 55 sacks a year ago registered somewhere just north of the quandary over choosing pizza or Chinese food. 

"I'm not nervous," he said. "It's pretty cool."

Tello, a redshirt freshman, learned of his official promotion during a position meeting just hours before, when offensive line coach Gregg Smith told him that, because junior Richard Tuitu'u had quit, Tello was now running with the first team.

Said Tello: "I'm ready to step up. I wanted this opportunity."

Tello, the pride of Norco, Calif., is listed at just 283 pounds but he said he presently tips the scales at 292, so he weighs as much as, say, top-ranked Georgia's twin sophomore offensive tackles, who will be in Tempe on Sept. 20 for a much-anticipated showdown.

There's also some question about Tello's height. He's listed at 6-foot-2, but coach Dennis Erickson and others insisted he's closer to 6-foot-4.

We'll split the difference and call him 6-foot-3. Still, he looks more like a guard than a tackle, who typically are in the 6-foot-5 range because long arms help hold off pass rushers exploding from the outside.

But Tello said coaches moved him from guard because of his athleticism. What he lacks in long arms, he makes up for with in quick feet.

Tello and the rest of the Sun Devils' line expect a new spread, quick-hitting passing game to make their lives easier. It also includes simpler blocking assignments.

"It's a lot easier," Tello said. "It seems like it's already more effective."

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