December 20, 2008

Season review: Tight ends

Clearly, there was no tight end on Arizona State's 2008 roster with the skill set of Zach Miller or Todd Heap.

But unfortunately for the Sun Devils, there was barely even a Brent Miller or a Tyrice Thompson on the squad either.

Before the season began, ASU's tight ends weren't expected to be a big factor in the passing game because of the talent at the wide receiver position, but the Sun Devils were most certainly hoping to get more production out of their tight ends than they did.

ASU played five tight ends this year, and they combined to make just 33 receptions for 230 yards and four touchdowns.

The low statistics can partially be attributed to the fact that the tight ends were forced to stay in and help with pass protection because the offensive line needed the help, but as the season went on it became obvious that there was not really a tight end with the ability to be a big playmaker.

Senior Andrew Pettes had by far the best season of this position group.

2008 was the first year Pettes was much of a factor for the Sun Devils and he hauled in 21 catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns.

Pettes lost about 20 pounds between the time the 2007 season ended and the opening of fall camp, which made him more of an all-around tight end.

At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, the Phoenix Moon Valley High School product was not the most athletic tight end on the team, but he had good hands and was consistent.

Pettes played in 11 games this year -- he missed the UNLV contest with a groin injury -- and started nine.

Coming out of fall camp, Jovon Williams was expected to play a somewhat prominent role in the passing attack because he has the speed and size to potentially be a downfield threat.

But that never happened.

The is no question that Williams was the most athletic tight end on the roster, but he did not run the best routes and had trouble getting himself open all year long. As a result Williams only caught three passes for a total of just 33 yards.

Wes Evans, a senior who made the switch from defensive end to tight end in the off-season, was never really a threat in the passing game. Most of his impact came as a lead blocker in goal line situations.

ASU did not have a fullback on the roster this year, but Evans occasionally lined up in that position and was a serviceable lead blocker.

In fall camp, redshirt freshman Dan Knapp showed great hands for a tight end and he appeared to be the second most athletic player at this position behind Williams.

However, he struggled in pass protection which kept his playing time limited early on.

But as he improved as a pass blocker he began to see the field more and more and even earned himself a start against USC on Oct. 11.

Unfortunately for Knapp he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in that USC game and was sidelined for the rest of the year.

He should be cleared to practice when ASU begins spring workouts.

Knapp made three receptions for 29 yards and one touchdown before his season ended.

The final tight end to see game action this season was junior college transfer Stanley Malamala.

At 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, Malamala was primarily used a pass blocker as he never really showed the ability to make an impact in the passing game.

Malamala saw limited playing time this year and only made one catch for 17 yards.

The only other tight end on ASU's roster in 2008 was true freshman Steven Figueroa.

The 6-foot-5, 238-pound Phoenix Desert Vista product is very impressive physically, but he suffered a broken toe early in fall camp and was not able to practice all season.

Grade: C- The tight ends weren't asked to do much besides block in 2008, and they were somewhat serviceable in pass protection. However, it would have been nice for Carpenter to have a reliable tight end in the passing game to take some pressure off of him. Knapp was emerging as the best tight end on the team before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but he should be back by the spring. Pettes and Evans are graduating, but ASU has some solid young tight ends in the program and verbal commits Chris Coyle and Max Smith could see the field.

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