J.J. Holliday makes a leaping grab during ASU's spring game (Photo: ASU)
House of Sparky is continuing our twice weekly 5-Pack series to help break down just about everything about the upcoming season...and then some.
While everyone knows about the quarterback derby, Brandon Magee, Cameron Marshall and "Speaking Victory", this week we are going to focus on some the players who are flying under-the-radar a bit yet are well suited to have breakout years.
First up, we'll focus on the offense, in alphabetical order.
Chris Coyle - H-back
Not since the days of Todd Heap and the Miller brothers has the tight end been a relevant threat in a Sun Devil offense. While the clock may not be turned back entirely this year under new offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, expect to see the group's production increase.
One big reason is the role of the H-back, which is a hybrid position that blends the tight end spot with aspects of fullback and wide receiver. At Tulsa, Norvell and Todd Graham utilized this spot to great success with Charles Clay, and junior Chris Coyle could become that type of threat at ASU.
Coyle has great size for the spot at 6'3" and 230 pounds, and having started his Sun Devil career as a wide receiver, he has the speed and hands to be a very effective threat along the seams and in the middle of the field. Despite missing all of spring ball with an injury, Coyle is still the current starter at the position, and as a tall, short-to-intermediate target, he could find a quick rapport with the new starter at quarterback.
Jamil Douglas - Left Guard
With a new offensive scheme and a quarterback who will be making his first career start, the Sun Devil offense will need a strong foundation to be laid by the offensive line. With three experienced starters gone, that task becomes worrisome.
Jamil Douglas saw action last season as a reserve and special teamer in all 13 games, but now looks to have a hold on the starting left guard spot. Douglas was initially a tackle, but weighing in at just 284 pounds and with a team need, he has moved to guard.
Douglas is a very gifted athlete, and has drawn praise for his tenacious blocking, both necessary traits along the interior line. That should translate well to ASU's run-heavy approach, but his inexperience will be a major question mark in pass protection during the season.
J.J. Holliday - Wide Receiver
It's a familiar chorus by now: ASU lost a lot at wide receiver over the offseason. Jamal Miles is back, but he's yet to prove himself fully as a wide receiver. After Miles, the rest of the field is wide open.
One player looking to make a move is junior J.J. Holliday. A downfield threat with 4.4 speed, Holliday has been plagued by injuries in his career, but showed what he could do during a very productive run during spring practices in April.
At 6'0", 170 pounds, Holliday doesn't have an ideal frame, but his speed is excellent, and his hands, route running and body control have all improved. Right now, key snaps at wide receiver are anyone's for the taking, and should Holliday continue his strong play into fall camp, he's get a lion's share of them.
Kevin Ozier - Wide Receiver
With Holliday poised to become a factor in the downfield passing game, junior Kevin Ozier has the makings of an ideal possession receiver.
Ozier has diligently worked his way from walk-on to scholarship athlete, and caught 11 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown last season. While his speed is not the caliber of Holliday or Rashad Ross', Ozier's sharp route running and usual sure-handedness should give him significant playing time, especially on those key third downs.
Kody Koebensky - Center
As mentioned above, the Sun Devil offensive line has far more questions than answers at this moment. Perhaps the biggest loss the unit suffered was at center, where second-team All-Pac-12 team member Garth Gerhart leaves a significant void.
Stepping into that is Koebensky, a 6'4", 294-pound junior from Scottsdale Saguaro. As Gerhart battled injuries through the year, Koebensky saw some action with the offense, as well as one special teams.
A hard worker, Koebensky has made strides and played well throughout spring. He has the tools to be a solid anchor to the offensive line, and how he handles the starting role will play a large factor in determining the offense's success in 2012.
Previous season preview entries in our 5-Pack series are here