Q&A with Coach Larry Porter

The Arizona State offense has been clicking on all cylinders for most of the season so far, with the running game helping lead the way. As the team prepares for their showdown with conference foe, Oregon, this Thursday, Devils Digest caught up with running backs coach Larry Porter to discuss the units' overall play through the first half of the year.

The Colorado game was probably the best performance by the running backs as a whole. After watching film, how would you assess their performance?

Larry Porter: "Well, we had a good night. As always though, there are things that we can improve upon. But that was a great game to grow from. We made a few mistakes as a unit that I know we can improve on and I'm looking forward to us doing so this week."

It was an impressive job by the group not only running the ball but also catching it. Was that even more rewarding for you to see?

Larry Porter: "It's always good to see them being productive and having success on the field but at the end of the day it's all about achieving excellence. And that's what we want to be; excellent. We want to put ourselves in position that we can go out and perform at a high level in every game. That's what we're trying to get to."

The season has somewhat been a struggle for Cameron Marshall, but against California and Colorado he seems to have turned the corner. What do you think the reasons are for his recent play?

Larry Porter: "Cameron continues to work hard. He's a guy that takes his game very personally. He's been growing over the past four or so weeks in terms of his productivity in different areas, so that's been really good. What he's starting to see now is that he's reaping the benefits of continuing to focus on the things that are helping him to perform well."

Marshall already has three fumbles on the year. Are you surprised by this stat and do you feel that this is something that he can eliminate going into the second half of the season?

Larry Porter: "It isn't about being surprised, that's just something that we don't tolerate and will not tolerate from no one. It's totally unacceptable for anyone on this team but especially from a guy that we count on."

There were so many expectations placed on D.J. Foster but as a true freshman he seems very unfazed by all of that. Do you feel that is the key for his level of play so far?

Larry Porter: "Absolutely. His focus has been that he prepares himself to have a great game every week and everything else has just kind of taken care of itself. What we have to do as coaches, is put blinders on his eyes and keep him pointed in the right direction. He's got coaches who are staying on him about doing all the right things. I can assure you that his focus is where it needs to be in terms of coming out here and working extremely hard and growing and getting better, not only as a football player but as a student athlete."

Marion Grice is another newcomer at running back that came in with quite a few accolades. Does that make it any less surprising seeing him play as well as he has so far?

Larry Porter: "Whether it's Marion, DJ or Cameron, they all can continue to get better. We're nowhere near what we can be. But as we continue to work hard we're starting to get in sync and positioning ourselves to do some really good things. But again, it's about performing at a high level in every game, and that's what we're striving for."

Does having mobile quarterbacks such as Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank take a lot of the load of your group when it comes to the running attack?

Larry Porter: "I think it takes pressure off of our offense as a whole. When you have a guy who is mobile - where some of the things that we do is built for him to have to run - and sometimes when things aren't there in the passing game and they have to tuck and run, it just puts us in a better position to stay ahead and continue to move the football down the field."

James Morrison is a player that seems to have just gotten lost in the mix when it comes to the depth chart. Nonetheless, does his move to defense take away from the overall quality of your unit?

Larry Porter: "Well, the good thing is we still use him in some situations, offensively. He's a duel player for us right now. There's a lot on him. We'll just continue to monitor how we use him and how he can be most effective for our football team."

So much gets said of the Oregon offense, but what do you think of their defense, especially what their run defense brings to the table?

Larry Porter: "They're a solid unit; pretty good at getting takeaways. They've got some big, long guys. They've been productive as a unit so we've got to position ourselves to play turnover-free football. As long as we take care of the football and go out there with a hard edge, in terms of toughness and discipline and great execution, we're looking forward to complementing them with our best effort."

At the mid-point of the season, has the running backs group performed as well as you expected it to and what do they need to improve on going into the second half of the season?

Larry Porter: "No, we've got to improve in every phase. Until we're in a position where we're totally dominating the game and having a great presence out there on the field, then we won't ever be where we need to be. I know it sounds like we may be asking a lot, but I know the guys we're asking can do it."

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