The Arizona State football team takes to the practice field from March 19 to April 18, and there is plenty of reason for hope and optimism.
There is also an area of concern for Graham's Sun Devils—the offensive line.
With the departure of two starters on the offensive line, it is imperative that the right side of the line be replaced with players that are knowledgeable to the offensive scheme that suffered a bit in the 2012 season.
Vi Teofilo and Tyler Sulka backed up Andrew Sampson and Brice Schwab at right guard and tackle respectively and are expected to get first-team reps in spring practice. Evan Goodman and Sil Ajawara ably backed up the left side of the line behind Evan Finkenberg and Jamil Douglas.
A new addition to Spring practice will be a local product, Christian Westerman. Westerman, the No.1 recruit in the state of Arizona in 2011, has returned home to play for Arizona State and will be battling for the right tackle position. He could also move into the guard slot.
He left for Auburn to play for Gene Chizik but left amidst the controversy involving possible NCAA sanctions and the departure of Chizik. If Auburn is levied with sanctions, Westerman could be in the clear to start in 2013 for the Devils.
Kody Koebensky will be entering his senior season at the center position after starting every game in the 2012 season. Koebensky will be joined on the depth chart by transfer student Nick Kelly from American River Community College. Kelly enrolled in January and will also participate in Spring practice.
Others that will be battling for playing time in the future:
- Mo Latu: 6'3", 319 lbs, redshirt sophomore
- Devin Goodman: 6'1", 273 lbs, redshirt sophomore
- Chip Sarafin: 6'6", 325 lbs, redshirt sophomore
- Stephon McCray: 6'3", 299 lbs, redshirt freshman
- William McGehee: 6'5", 292 lbs, redshirt sophomore
- Preston Awediseasn: 6'5", 280 lbs, sophomore
- Jack Powers: 6'6", 260 lbs, true freshman (will join team in the fall)
Although there are many players that can fill in for Sampson and Schwab, it is only a matter of time to find out who meshes best with Koebensky, Finkenberg and Douglas.
The offensive line had arguably its best game of the year against Navy in their bowl game. The best case scenario is that they don't miss a beat heading into spring practice and beyond.
I am still worried as the line is critical to fueling Coach Graham's high-octane "left lane, hammer down" offense.
David is the Featured Columnist of Arizona State Athletics for B/R. Follow him on Twitter at @asudave.