Q&A with Coach Mike Norvell

After a dominating performance against Illinois, Coach Norvell and his offense will face yet a stiffer test as they prepare to play in their first road game of the year. ASU's offensive coordinator talked with Devils Digest about the keys for the Sun Devil offense against Missouri this Saturday, as well as his thoughts on the performance of his players against the Illini last week.

Has the offensive performance surprised you so far, especially due to the fact that you have a first-year starting quarterback and a wide receiver group with very little experience?

Mike Norvell: "It really hasn't, [as] I have high expectations for this group. I said that I would have high expectations for this team since I got here. Our guys went out there and played extremely well. I am proud of them for the effort that they give, but there still are a lot of things for us to improve upon and get corrected before we play Missouri."

Did you see the improvement from your offense from game 1 to game 2 that you were expecting?

Mike Norvell: "I did, [and] that was one of the most important weeks in college football. Between week one and week two you want to see growth and see guys gain a better understanding of the offense. I thought that the tempo got better. It's still not where we need to be, but the tempo did improve. Our guys went out there and played really tough."

What do you attribute to the fast starts the offense has had in each of the first two games?

Mike Norvell: "I think we are coming in with great focus. Our guys are preparing themselves for the game and they understand what we are trying to do early in games. Last week we moved the ball well, but we had a critical turnover on the first drive. That is something that can't happen and we need to clean up. You can't have those types of setbacks early in a game, especially on the road."

During the off-season you and the staff were really anxious to have Chris Coyle part of this offense. Are you surprised at how fast he became such a big part of the offense?

Mike Norvell: "That's a position that is critical for this offense. Chris has worked his butt off and put himself in a position to be successful. He has done a great job capitalizing on the opportunities that were given to him. I am really proud of him and proud of the way he has worked. The tight end position in this offense is one that is very important to the success of the offense."

With so many wide receivers open on the majority of plays, would it be fair to see that the deception aspect of this offense is really doing well right now?

Mike Norvell: "I think guys are just executing and doing what we are asking them to do. That is something that is big each and every day. They need to have focus [and] make sure they put themselves in the right position. The thing about the offense is that we like to have options as long as guys are executing their fundamentals. That puts us in a great position to have open receivers, and for the quarterback to find them and get them the ball."

Eubank threw the ball five times against Illinois versus just once against NAU. Did you change the set of plays in his package or did you not want to tip you hand against NAU?

Mike Norvell: "He is going to continue to grow. He went out there Saturday and took what the defense gave him. I thought he did a really good job."

Even with the game against Illinois decided in the third quarter, how come you had a shorter running back rotation against the Illini?

Mike Norvell: "It's something where each game there will be a set rotation before the game. I can tell you that Marion Grice is going to continue to increase his role and the amount of reps that he is getting. Every time he is on the field he has done great things for us. D.J. Foster has done a great job for us. As a true freshman to come in and contribute so fast, he has been great. I expect all of those guys to be contributors."

What's your reaction to Deantre Lewis switching over to play defense?

Mike Norvell: "I just think we are trying to get the best eleven guys on the field at any given time. Deantre is a tremendous athlete and we feel like he can help us in the secondary, which will help us win football games. We have done that everywhere I have been with Coach Graham. We try to get the guys out there who can help us win football games. A great example is Davon Coleman helping us on offense when we are on the goal line."

How different is the Missouri defense from the Illinois defense?

Mike Norvell: "Missouri is a very athletic defense, they are big, and play physical. They are a hardnosed tough football team. It's going to be a great challenge for us, but I'm looking forward to watching the guys go out there and play in an adverse environment and go against a top defense."

What are your expectations for your team's tempo on the road against Missouri?

Mike Norvell: "I want to get faster. When you go into an adverse situation you have to have great focus and that's something we are working on here at practice. Bottom line though is I want to get faster every week."

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