Osweiler Gears Up For Friday Night Battle
By Brian Price
"We have to go out and earn it," ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler says with fierce determination.
That determination has fueled an amazing past year for the Kalispell, Mont., native.
On November 16, 2010, sophomore Osweiler came in relief of injured starter Steven Threet, the man who had beaten Osweiler for the starting job during the fall.
Undaunted by a 17-0 deficit to the UCLA Bruins - and the Sun Devils' 4-6 record at the time - second stringer Osweiler unleashed a performance for the ages.
380 yards and five touchdowns later - one of which was scored on a nifty QB scramble - Osweiler led the Sun Devils to a remarkable 55-34 win. He continued to roll, and ended the season with a double overtime 30-29 win over arch rival Arizona.
"The UCLA game me a lot of confidence [going forward]. Prior to that there was no real situation like that that I had gone through," Osweiler says. "Going into the U of A game, there were still some questions, but after winning that one, there was no doubt in my mind that I was ready to take over the show."
Mastering coordinator Noel Mazzone's offense has been a central focus for Osweiler, who is eager to help put together a winning campaign in his first full season as the starting QB.
"Giving the city of Tempe the football team they deserve and bringing excitement back to Sun Devil Stadium is what we are geared towards," Osweiler says.
Now after a 48-14 win over UC Davis to open the 2011 campaign, Osweiler is eagerly anticipating a Friday night match-up under the lights against the No. 21-ranked Missouri Tigers in a Pac-12/Big 12 showdown.
"It's a game we've had circled on our calendars for a long time," he says. "We understand the opportunity that's at hand. We'll be in front of our home crowd and we'll be breaking out the black uniforms for the first time."
Arizona State players, coaches and administrators are urging fans to wear all black in order to create an exciting atmosphere at Sun Devil Stadium via a "Friday night blackout."
This game offers an opportunity to make a statement on national television and to set a tone for the season. A victory will put the Sun Devils in prime position to make a run at winning the south division in the Pac-12 and earning a spot in the first-ever conference championship.
Clearly, ASU fans and players alike are hungry for some national recognition in the Erickson era as four seasons have yet to produce a bowl win.
Signs of progress were evident in spring when it was clear that the offense was capable of keeping up with the Sun Devils' defense.
"As spring ball went on, the offense got better everyday which we capped off with a huge spring game," Osweiler says, who threw five touchdowns in that contest. "As we got into fall camp it was very obvious that we had success at our fingertips and rather than offense on one side and defense on the other, we really came together as a family."
Osweiler has proven to be a tremendous combo of power and speed. He stands at 6-foot-8 but runs a 4.7 40-yard dash and has the arm strength to effectively move the ball down the field. Against UC Davis he threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
Discipline is the key. It began during the winter strength and conditioning programs created by strength coach Ben Hilgart.
"When we did conditioning and guys would cross the line before he blew the whistle, he would back us up 10 yards or add reps to it," Osweiler says. "As a result, becoming a disciplined football team started there and carried over into spring ball and fall camp with the coaches constantly reminding us that we needed to improve our discipline and really reinforcing that throughout meetings and during practices."
It's still early, but the Sun Devils committed only four penalties in week one, the second-fewest of any Pac-12 team to begin the season (Stanford had three).
Osweiler cares as much about team spirit as he does about winning. "In fall practice we took all the freshmen's Dri-Fit shorts," Osweiler says. "Out in the blazing sun, those guys had to practice in some old school grey cotton shorts until they learned the fight song."
For clarification, we're talking NBA-in-the-70's-old-school shorts.
"It was not a flattering look for them. They looked pretty goofy," he says. And according to Osweiler, they learned the fight song fairly quickly.
And to round things out, Osweiler has found the time to support the Tempe community.
"I love visiting the children's hospital. It's a special opportunity to give back and build a good name for the program," Osweiler says. "It's something I've looked forward to doing since I was a little kid, dreaming about being a Division-I quarterback, knowing I'd have a positive presence in the community."
The Arizona State - Missouri match-up is slated for September 9 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.