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ASU Football Spring Preview: Offensive line

Improvement from the Sun Devils’ front will be key to their success in 2017.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Spring football is right around the corner. House of Sparky will be providing you content previewing Arizona State’s units ahead of offseason practices. Next we take a look at the offensive line.


The Sun Devils’ offensive line could be described as battered, bruised and inexperienced for much of the 2016 campaign. ASU entered last year returning just one starter (left tackle Evan Goodman) from its starting unit the previous season. Each of the four other spots were manned by new men, however each position had at least one other see time at the spot during the campaign. Subsequently, a handful of young players saw the field—some even a bit prematurely—and as a result, play up front was a bit inconsistent throughout the year.

This season, the Sun Devils will return players with experience in four of their five starting positions, despite past appearances often being scattered.

Key Returners

Quinn Bailey (R-Jr): began season as starter at right guard. Played in all 12 games.

Cohl Cabral (So): appeared in 11 games.

Cade Cote (R-So): appeared in 1 game.

Brock Corbin (R-Fr): redshirted last season.

Connor Humphreys (R-Jr): didn’t appear in any games last season.

Daniel Jeffrey (R-Fr): redshirted.

Sam Jones (R-Jr): began season as starter at left guard. Dealt with injury during season. Appeared in 7 games.

Alex Losoya (R-Jr): appeared in 2 games.

Tyler McClure (R-Sr): started at center during the season. Appeared in 5 games.

AJ McCollum (Sr): started at center during the season. Appeared in 9 games.

Steven Miller (R-So): started at right guard during the season. Appeared in 11 games.

Marshal Nathe (R-Fr): appeared in 1 game.

Tyson Rising (R-Jr): was injured for much of 2016. Redshirted.

Zach Robertson (R-So): began season as starter at right tackle. Appeared in 9 games.

Corey Smith (R-Sr): converted defensive lineman. Appeared in five games listed as defender.

Michael Tate (R-Fr): redshirted.

Mason Walter (R-So): appeared in 3 games.

Who’s New

Corey Stephens: will join team following high school graduation.

Keep An Eye On: Left tackle

The Sun Devils appear intent on rolling out Cohl Cabral at left tackle entering the spring. The former Under Armour All-American saw reps there last season during practices with secondary team units, and is someone the program has been exciting about in the past.

Left tackle is the only position whose original starter manned the entire season for ASU in 2016. The 6-foot-5, 286-pound Californian is likely to be the Sun Devils’ next blindside protector, but he’s yet to play a full-length game in that position. How he holds against ASU’s ends and edge defenders — or whether the team tries any other options there — will be something to keep an eye on.

Biggest Strength: Experience to draw on

Last season was more trial-by-fire than intent for most members of the offensive line. While appearances for some were scattered, there’s something to draw back on for members of the group who will see more steady reps this season. In turn, there should be improvement across the board in terms of cohesiveness.

Biggest Concern: Pass blocking

The Sun Devils conceded 41 total sacks in 2016. Their offensive line unit ranked 112th nationally in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards (Adj. LY) metric and 120th in Adjusted Sack Rate.

Conversely, ASU’s offensive line ranked 15th in Power Success Rate (measures the percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown) and ranked 21st in Stuff Rate (percentage of carries by running backs that are stopped at or before the line of scrimmage).

In order for the Sun Devils’ offense to have any success in 2017, the play of their offensive line will have to improve in the passing game, regardless of who will be the signal-caller.

What It All Means: Improvement is imperative

The Sun Devils will need their offense to perform and produce at a high rate if they want to compete in 2017. Having a plethora of talent at the skill positions won’t matter, or materialize rather, if the offensive line doesn’t play adequately. There’s already an idea of whom ASU will throw out as its starting front, and combination’s chemistry will need to develop throughout its work next week and beyond when practices get underway.