House of Sparky was able to have an exclusive phone interview with Gregg Smith, the ASU Offensive Line Coach. He shed some light on a few issues regarding the offensive line that I was very interested in hearing more about.
House of Sparky: Thank you for your time, Coach Smith.
The offensive line will have a new look this season. What is the biggest difficulty you face when replacing so many players?
Coach Smith: The biggest difficulty is game experience. You know, we only have two returning starters, Shawn Lauvao and Paul Fanaika so they are the only two who have a lot of game experience. Our center, Thomas Altieri, has played some, and you know Adam Tello was redshirted last year. John Hargis, who is starting at left tackle, was on the defensive line last fall. So when you only have two guys who really have game experience, the other three are going to have to learn and perfect themselves as we go along through fall practice.
HoS: Losing Mike Pollak is a blow to the offensive line. What will the Sun Devils miss most about him this year?
Coach: Well, I think number one is leadership. That is probably the one thing that he reflected through the whole team, not just the offensive line. His leadership and what he provided for this football team was extremely important. That being number one, number two was Pollak being a captain of the team and captain of the offensive line, and making all of our calls. We are going to miss that experience from him. Losing a guy like that always hurts you, and it just takes a while for somebody else to grow into his role and provide the things he provided.
HoS: Adam Tello is currently practicing on the first team. What are some of his strengths and how significant will his role be this season?
Coach: He is penciled in as our starter at right tackle. He is a very athletic player; he plays with a lot of toughness, which is going to help him in the long run. His biggest weakness right now is game experience, and that is something that he is going to have to deal with in practice and training camp.
HoS: The 2007 offensive line gave up 55 sacks, the second most in the nation (better than only Notre Dame). What are some of the new approaches that will better protect Rudy Carpenter?
Coach: After reevaluating our season in the spring, we are trying to simplify our protection schemes. Also, we are putting a lot of emphasis on our quick passing game, so that Rudy is able to get the ball out a little bit faster. We are going to utilize our strengths, which are the receiving core and Rudy Carpenter. We are also trying to do a better, more efficient job on gap control and to solidify the middle of the pocket.
House of Sparky would like to thank Coach Smith again for his time and his informative answers. Further analysis will be forthcoming!