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Season Over for Michael Matus

A left ACL injury ended defensive lineman Michael Matus's 2022 season before it even began. How can the Arizona State Sun Devils overcome this loss?

The Sun Devils were dealt a significant blow Monday when defensive lineman Michael Matus was lost for the season with a left ACL tear suffered during practice. 

Matus, who is entering his redshirt senior season, was expected to take on a massive role for the Sun Devils following the departures of several key defenders including fellow defensive lineman Jermayne Lole (transferred to Louisville).

With Matus out for all of the 2022 season, Arizona State is left with a predicament on how to fill in the void. The defensive line is a strength for the Sun Devils with lots of intriguing talent and depth, but the defensive end spot that Matus manned is widely unproven.

Anthonie Cooper should get the first crack at the open starting spot. Cooper finished 2021 with 3.5 sacks, good enough for third on the team. As a redshirt junior, it is anticipated that Cooper could continue to build off a solid 2021 season, but he will now be counted upon to become a full-time starter. Gharin Stansbury and Joe Moore should also compete with Cooper for reps.

An intriguing idea would be to move Omarr Norman-Lott outside. Norman-Lott is coming off a 30-tackle season in which he notched two sacks. Norman-Lott has shown some serious promise on the defensive line and has a chance to continue blossoming under defensive line coach Rob Rodriguez. Moving Norman-Lott outside would also give 2021 leading sack artist B.J. Green (five) a heavier role.

While it's reported that Norman-Lott has bulked up to 290 pounds, it remains a possibility that he could move outside should no one show enough to contribute as a full-time starter.

It should likely be highly anticipated that Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson will use a committee approach until someone shows full-time capabilities. Even then, the defensive line depth should have many comfortable that the Sun Devils can find a way to survive Matus's absence on the defensive line from a production standpoint.

While losing Matus as a leader on defense will be difficult replacing his production could still be within the realm of possibilities for Arizona State.