Osweiler learning from past mistakes
Brock Osweiler's first season as Arizona State's starting quarterback, by most accounts, has been a success.
The towering junior has thrown for 1,352 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games, completing 68 passes for a team that's atop the Pac-12 South.
There is one problem: turnovers.
Osweiler has gotten his team into some dicey spots by throwing six interceptions and fumbling at key times, but, most of the time, has found a way to bounce back and pull out victories.
''I'm a guy that learns from making mistakes,'' he said. ''Sometimes that's not the best way to learn, but that's how I learn. When I make a mistake once, it's usually not going to happen again.''
After losing a tight battle with Steven Threet and spending most of last season watching, Osweiler was the undisputed leader of the offense coming out of camp. He had a superb start to the season, picking apart UC Davis for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns, then led the Sun Devils to a program-boosting win over then-No. 21 Missouri by throwing for 353 yards and three scores.
The past few games have had some rough patches.
Against Illinois on Sept. 17, Osweiler was out of sorts, throwing a pair of interceptions and losing a fumble to set up the decisive score in the Illini's 17-14 win.
Solid the following week in a win over Southern California, Osweiler got off to a shaky start against Oregon State last Saturday, throwing a pair of interceptions to go with a fumble in Arizona State's first three possessions. He bounced back from the ugliness and, despite turning it over four times in the game, finished with 258 yards and a pair of touchdowns to rally the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0) to a 35-20 win.
''The biggest thing is shaking those plays off,'' Osweiler said. ''Turnovers are going to happen, bad plays will happen throughout a game, but the beauty of it is there is always the next play or series. You just have to shake it off and keep moving.''
Part of Osweiler's turnover troubles have come from questionable decision-making.
In the Oregon State game, his first two interceptions came when Beavers defensive backs closed quickly and made tough plays in front of the receivers. Those, to a certain degree, are acceptable; someone makes a good play, pat them on the back and move on.
The third interception fell squarely on Osweiler's shoulders. With the game not yet out of reach, he threw a pass into quadruple coverage that was easily picked off, giving the Beavers new life. That one he would have liked back.
''It seemed like the whole team was over there,'' he said. ''That was the only real bad mistake, I'd say.''
Osweiler's size has something to do with it, too.
At 6-foot-8, the former Gonzaga basketball recruit can see over even the biggest linemen with ease. But because he's that tall, Osweiler also has a longer release than most quarterbacks, meaning it takes longer for him to get rid of the ball and gives defensive backs an extra step or two to close on the ball.
''Being tall, he can see over the top of the rush better than other guys,'' Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. ''But being that tall has its issues, too. His release gets a little longer and it takes him a little longer to get rid of the ball. It's something we've been working on, getting him to shorten it up a little.''
Osweiler has taken the process in stride. Gregarious and confident, he's shrugged off the miscues and turned them into positives, something to learn from, not dwell on.
A year ago, maybe even a few weeks ago, he might not have been able to bounce back from starting a game with three turnovers like he did against Oregon State. That he did shows the progress Osweiler has made mentally and in adapting to what defenses are throwing at him.
The next stop in his learning curve is Saturday at Utah, a tough place to play where the Sun Devils hope to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12 South.
''To go into Utah, especially in that environment, and get a win would be huge,'' Osweiler said. ''But to do that you have to go into the game very focused.''
Osweiler likely will be, even if things don't go as planned.