TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State is not wanting for weapons.
From a potent three-headed backfield that can devastate defenses on the air and on the ground, to quarterback Taylor Kelly's dual-threat skills, to a record-setting tight end in Chris Coyle, the Sun Devil offense has some playmakers.
Yet, as any football fan knows, the quickest way to negate such talent is to pair it with a faulty offensive line.
Heading in to the 2013 season, there does not appear to be such a concern in Tempe.
Left tackle Evan Finkenberg returns as one of the Pac-12's better tackles, and his 34 career starts are the most of any player on the roster. Center Kody Koebensky acquitted himself very well in his first year as a starter, and his leadership ability has received praise from his teammates throughout the offseason. New right guard Vi Teofilo has a wealth of talent, and made three starts a year ago, but the most crucial component on the offensive line may also be the most talented player of the group.
Last year, Jamil Douglas started all 13 games last year at left guard, and performed very well, but by his own estimation, there was plenty of room for improvement.
"I think I did pretty well, considering it was my first year starting," Douglas said. "I have to always be focused. I have to keep my mental part of the game right. I have to get smarter on the field, learn different techniques, what guys are trying to do to me, and things like that."
With the graduation of last year's right tackle in Brice Schwab, a large hole—figuratively and literally—opened along the line, and the coaching staff was presented with a quandary: Keep Douglas at his left guard spot and hope a tackle prospect shines, or move Douglas to the Schwab's old spot and plug a hole in the middle?
Early on in spring football, the staff played Douglas in both spots, and while a fan of both, the talented junior just wants to be on the field, regardless of position.
"I like both of them," said Douglas."I like right tackle a lot, but left guard is where I got comfortable last year. I'll play wherever they want me to play."
At 6-foot-4, and 303 pounds, Douglas has ideal size for the tackle spot. He also brings tremendous tenacity, agility, and technique to the line, and after spending a full year in the team's conditioning program, his improved strength has made him a more formidable force.
During spring, Douglas impressed at right tackle, while others tried at the spot did not fair well. Combined with the team's greater depth at guard, where Teofilo will start on the right and Sil Ajawara mans the left, and Douglas is now set as the team's right tackle heading into fall camp.
If Douglas can take the next step towards being an All-Pac-12-caliber player that many believe he can become, then the Sun Devil offensive line should be among the very best in the conference. In turn, ASU's playmakers will have a lot of open terrain in which to roam and wreak havoc.
In true offensive lineman fashion, Douglas' goals for this season are team-oriented.
"Of course, I want to be an All-Pac-12, All-American type guy, and an Academic All-American, but I just want us to be successful as a team, as an offensive line and do some good things on the field this year."