Offensive lineman are a rare breed, not only due to their daunting size, but because they typically perform better when they are not on the media's radar.
"As long as our teammates are doing well, that means we are doing our job," ASU left tackle Evan Finkenberg said. "If the quarterback has time out there in the pocket and if the running backs are doing well, it shows well for us and we are happy about that."
Finkenberg has protected ASU's quarterbacks for three seasons and he has emerged as one of the leaders on the offensive line this year. The media has not talked much about the front five this year, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Why? Because it means they are performing well.
The Sun Devils suffered a tough road loss against Missouri earlier this month, but they completed a 180-degree turnaround in their home blowout win against Utah. The success was all about staying dedicated to the game plan.
"We just have to refocus. We have to rededicate ourselves in the film room. We have to rededicate ourselves when we walk onto the practice field," Finkenberg exclaimed. "Every rep we are out there you have to play it like a game because you don't get that rep back. When we started doing that last week, it showed on the scoreboard."
Arizona State is hoping to keep that focus for the road game against California this weekend. Despite an impressive 3-1 record, the Sun Devils still need to learn how to handle the pressure on the road. The last time they won a road game at Cal was 1997. Finkenberg said the offensive line is making sure they focus on the fundamentals and do not mentally miss a snap.
"[California] does a lot of different fronts sometimes so it will be key to call out their fronts, make sure everyone knows where they are going, make sure the crowd noise doesn't effect us at all and make sure we get all of our calls out there."
It seems simple, but it's a formula for success. Despite winning just two games against the Golden Bears since 2000, Finkenberg said he is ready to shut down the opponent's defense.
"They have some big guys on their defensive line, but they also have some athletic guys at the linebacker position and D-end position," Finkenberg said fearlessly. "It's going to be a great challenge for me this week. Working on my technique and my footwork to make sure I have those guys locked down."
Hard work has been a motto of head coach Todd Graham all season long and Finkenberg fits that motto perfectly. California is just another hurdle the Sun Devils will have to leap if they wish to have a successful season.
"I think we have always had a great expectation for our team because we knew how hard we have been working all of spring ball, all summer and now into the fall," Finkenberg said. "I thinks it's kind of showing on the field that we all are working together."
Cal will be a good test for ASU, but for Finkenberg and the other four starting offensive lineman, it's another opportunity to keep the media at bay.
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