Q&A with Coach Mike Norvell

Going into Saturday's game against a highly regarded Illinois defense, many are viewing this week's game as perhaps the toughest test Mike Norvell and his offense will face all season. ASU's offensive coordinator talked with Devils Digest about the keys for the offense against the Fighting Illini this Saturday, as well as his expectations for some of his players going into Saturday's game.

How would you rate the offense's performance last Thursday against NAU?

Mike Norvell: "I thought it was solid, [and] I thought the guys came out and executed the game plan. We limited a lot of mistakes which is a big positive. You always worry in the first game how guys will play under the lights, but they came ready to play. It was a positive performance."

Do you think the offense will run at a faster pace this week?

Mike Norvell: "Well, we want to play faster. In parts of the game last week we were letting NAU lineup and we were being courteous to them. I think we can do a better job this week of getting lined up and rolling with the tempo."

What roles will Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank have during the Illinois game?

"Eubank will play in situation packages again, but these packages change every game. We are going to have a game plan for both when they are on the field. Taylor Kelly will start the majority of the game, and Eubank will come in during certain situations."

What are you looking for both quarterbacks to improve upon this week?

Mike Norvell: "They just need to continue to manage the offense and limit mistakes. They need to be efficient with the ball in their hands and make sure that we are taking care of the football. They can't put the ball in jeopardy. That is something we stress every day, and something they are improving upon."

What kind of input have coaches Ron West and Chip Long given you as you create your offensive game plan against Illinois?

Mike Norvell: "They have input every week. Those guys are great coaches. They have helped us on the personnel front and telling us what some of the guy's strengths and weaknesses might be. We also have a great deal of film study that we are able to see, and decide how we want to attack on each play."

What type of challenge does the Illinois defensive line present to you this week?

Mike Norvell: "They provide a great challenge. Illinois is a good football team and they have one of the better defenses in the country. We need to go out there and execute and play our game. If we do that, we can put our guys in the position to be successful."

Do you feel the fast pace of your offense can help counter the size of the Illinois defense?

Mike Norvell: "Definitely, we want to get the reps going and play fast. We want to make those big boys run side to side and chase the football. Tempo is based on being efficient, so we need to go out there and get first downs and make some big plays. If we can do that I think our tempo will help us out."

How do you expect D.J. Foster to play against this stout Illinois defense?

Mike Norvell: "I expect him to continue to grow. The biggest improvements you see from football teams are from week one to week two. That's what we challenged our guys with, [and] I want to see a better performance offensively and from each individual. Everybody talked going into the season that we didn't have experience, but now everybody has experience and one game under their belt."

What is the key for the offense to have success against Illinois?

Mike Norvell: "We need to protect the football. Illinois has done a great job getting the ball out. They created four turnovers last week, and they cause a lot of fumbles. We need to make sure to protect the football. We also need to be efficient on first and second down and put ourselves in position to score some points."

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