Norvell: ‘I'm ready to play somebody else'

Coming into this year, with a new offensive coordinator who made a complete overhaul of the offense and their style of play, some fans perhaps have low expectations of the ASU offense. Yet, with the first game of the season only three days away, Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell and his offense are ready to show the fans their new fast tempo style of play and its capabilities on the field.

"Our offense is coming along and our guys had a good week of practice last week," Norvell said following Monday's session. "We have also had a good last couple days of game prep. We have had a couple of weeks to focus on NAU. It's about time, I am ready to play somebody else."

Norvell truly felt that the players finally started to grasp the knowledge of the offense during fall camp.

"They finally started to gain an overall understanding of the offense and the tempo that we want to play at," Norvell described. "It was really different for these guys and they are starting to get it. I'm pleased to see their growth."

Nonetheless, when the runner meets the road in the season opener, can Norvell actually witness the level of comprehension of his players.

"We still need to do it on the stage," Norvell admitted. "It's going to be something I am going to challenge them about. We obviously also want them to focus on executing the offense and having eleven guys doing the right thing on every play during the game."

All this month, true freshman D.J. Foster has been causing practice observers to turn their heads, and needless to say the running back has grabbed Arizona State's Offensive Coordinator's attention as well.

"Watching a young player like D.J. Foster, coming in just this Fall," Norvell said, "and he is already grasping everything we are throwing at him. He's responded to our challenges, and he is starting to become a complete running back. We have very high expectations for him."

Norvell believes Foster, along with the other running backs, will have the capability to carry the offense this year.

"Our running back group is a very important group for us," Norvell noted. "When you run the football, you have to have guys that have a physical mentality. I think [running backs] Coach Porter has done a great job getting those guys to this point. We are probably harder on them than any other group, [and] they have responded well and are ready to go."

With Marshall being held out for two weeks during fall camp, Norvell believes that the extra work other running backs, like newcomers Marion Grice and DJ Foster, received did nothing but help them develop.

"Those two guys weren't here this Spring," Norvell said. "When you start getting that many reps you will improve mentally and physically. I think it was very important for their development and ability to pick up things."

Norvell also credits the offensive line for being one of the major reasons for the improvement on this side of the ball. "They are starting to gel together," Norvell commented. "We are looking forward to watching them the first game and getting after NAU."

Now that the dust has settled in the quarterback competition, Norvell has noticed progression from all three signal callers, as well as an understanding of the scheme and their roles in it. One thing however that remains unclear to some extent, is the role Mike Eubank will have as the proverbial second quarterback )behind starter Taylor Kelly) in the two-quarterback system the Sun Devils are planning to employ this season.

"We have a designed package for him, [and] we will get him into the game and see how that fits," Norvell explained. "We will decide how many snaps he plays depending on how he responds to the situations we play him in. We will do our best to make sure both quarterbacks are in a game flow."

One of the areas of concern for the offense entering the Fall was the level of experience at wide receiver. Norvell sees the potential, and believes that they can contribute to the offense even while they are still developing.

"It's something that we are working on," Norvell said. "Because they are so inexperienced, you see growth every day. That's what we challenge them with [that] you have to go out there and get better every day. I am excited to see how they play when the lights come on and see how they respond. They will continue to grow and provide depth for this offense."

High octane has been the motto of this offense even since first-year Head Coach Todd Graham has arrived, and while the pace in practice has been rapid Norvell believes that the offense still has the potential to run at an even higher cadence.

"It's never going to be as fast as I want it to be," Norvell confessed, "but the guys are starting to understand how to run an offense at a high tempo, but it's a different speed on game day. We want to be the fastest offense on game day and I am looking forward to seeing that transact from the practice field to the game on Thursday."

With the NAU games fast approaching, Norvell stated that his main goal for his offense on Thursday won't be regarding stats, but it will be about putting together a complete performance.

"We want to go out there and execute," Norvell said, "scoring takes care of itself. You can't have stupid penalties or turnovers, we have to go out there and execute the offense. The rest will take care of itself."


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