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ASU offensive line set up Sun Devil rushing attack

Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) is tossed in the air by offensive lineman Steven Miller (71) after Benjamin scored a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Before Week 5, no Sun Devil had ever run for 300 yards in a game since Arizona State’s football program began in 1897. Eno Benjamin changed that for good.

The sophomore running back rushed for 312 yards and three touchdowns in ASU’s 52-24 win against Oregon State. This was the second week in a row Benjamin exceeded 100 yards, rushing for 104 yards the previous week against Washington.

Offensive line coach Dave Christensen has coached for over 30 years, but he said Benjamin’s performance was one of the best he’s ever seen.

I had a guy at Temple rush for 300 one time at the Cotton Bowl; that was pretty spectacular,” Christensen said. “But Eno was just every bit as good as that day, and those are probably two of the best performances I’ve seen at tailback.”

As a whole, the offensive line did a solid job blocking and creating holes for Benjamin, Christensen said.

I was real pleased with how we played,” Christensen said. “Didn’t have any mental errors, ran it on the ground, finished blocks, played physical, got guys down, did all the things we asked them to do and did it at a high level.”

A large reason for the run game’s success in the last two games was a result of ASU’s newly-instituted, gap-blocking scheme. Traditionally, gap schemes are more frequently associated with run-first offenses, which excites Christensen.

“We want to run the ball first as an offensive line,” Christensen said. “From an offensive line standpoint, you want to punish people. I take pride in run blocking and finishing and being nasty but legal.”

Junior offensive lineman Cohl Cabral is one of the Sun Devils’ four captains for the 2018 season, but against San Diego State, he struggled to protect the offense and create holes. Against Oregon State, however, Cabral stepped up.

“He’s made progress,” Christensen said. “He’s struggled a couple games, didn’t play to my expectations, but last game, he certainly did. He played his finest game last week, so we hope he continues to grow from that.”

This week, Arizona State hits the road again for a test against Colorado. The Buffaloes are 4-0 on the year, but not much is known about them because of their opponents’ 1-16 record this year.

“They’re a good football team, and they’ve got excellent players on defense,” Christensen said. “They’re physical, they run well, they tackle well, so we got out work cut out for us.”

Benjamin’s performance was a reflection of both his success running the ball and the line’s blocking, but according to offensive coordinator Rob Likens, the team shouldn’t get too confident.

They gotta understand that Oregon State’s in a tough position right now in their building process,” Likens said. “Colorado’s just at a different place right now in their program. But anytime you break a school record, it’s got to give you some confidence.”

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