If a tight end is supposed to be a quarterback’s best friend, ASU senior quarterback Danny Sullivan might want to stick with man’s best friend.
Not that the unit is in the doghouse, but through four games, the Sun Devil tight ends have been more AWOL than BFF. They have produced just three catches for 21 yards, all coming from senior Jovon Williams.
With Sullivan’s job seemingly a ship taking on water, finding the safety valve could be the job saver. Sophomore Dan Knapp, Williams and senior Stanley Malamala have not yet been trusted as major targets.
“I definitely think that getting the ball in games is getting experience,” Knapp said. “As a group, the tight ends aren’t getting that experience. I think that hurts us in the long run, but I think eventually we will come back and start catching balls and be involved in the offense.”
Granted, the tight end hasn’t been the primary personnel focus of the passing game. ASU has used many four- and five-wide receiver sets out of the shotgun, while the tight ends have helped get senior running back Dimitri Nance going.
“I know personally, I am doing a great job blocking, helping out the running game a lot,” Knapp said. “Unfortunately, I did drop some passes earlier in the season. But, you know, you have to bounce back from that.
Hopefully, the tight end can get more involved.”
A matchup against Washington State, currently the worst team in the Pac-10, on Saturday could yield opportunities for the tight end to get involved.
“Last week, just because Jovon was hurt, we got in four-[receiver sets] more,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “But we will be in three-[wide receiver sets] a lot of the time, and we will be in more [two-tight end sets] this week than we’ve been.”
Erickson said the personnel groupings still have time to evolve.
“Our offense will change as our personnel starts to develop,” he said.
“We will be in two-tights — we have two good young tight ends. So things change as time goes on.”
And with freshman tight ends Christopher Coyle and walk-on sophomore Trevor Kohl — one of the surprises in the spring — both showing upside in practice, Knapp knows it’s time to put up.
“The tight end is going to be involved a lot more,” he said. “Hopefully, we get a couple more passes, score a couple touchdowns and start to get rolling.”
Erickson talked to senior defensive end Dexter Davis, who is fourth all-time in ASU history in sacks (27.5) but has yet to record one this season, during team warm-ups on Tuesday.
“The bottom line is, like I told him, ‘If they are doubling you, then someone is one-on-one, and they better start getting a frickin’ pass rush,” Erickson said.
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