Mike Norvell Q&A

Devils Digest's Courtney Baker caught up with ASU's offensive coordinator to discuss today's scrimmage and the state of the offense midway through spring practice.

DevilsDigest: In last week's scrimmage the offense performed very well. Was today more of the same?

Mike Norvell: "There were definitely some bright spots. I thought we continued to work to establish the run. We had a couple negative plays that we got to get cleaned up. But I'm pleased with seeing the guys continue to grow."

DevilsDigest: With more than half of the spring practice sessions in the book; has the offense progressed at the rate you expected them to?

Mike Norvell: "It's never exactly where you want it to be. We're continuing to work, continuing to push those guys. That's something they're taking a great deal of ownership and trying to lead themselves. It's been a good spring. We got five more practices and we're going to make the most of every rep that we have. I'm pleased with the guys' progression."

DevilsDigest: With so many returning players, you're obviously expecting a lot from the players. Do you feel that this group is ready to take their performance to a higher level?

Mike Norvell: "I hope so. It's something that any time you have guys that have experience, you continue to challenge them and push them. They elevate their game to a new level. That's something that we're challenging them with and I think they're responding well. We're going to have some new guys that are going to have to come in and obviously help what we're doing."

DevilsDigest: Increasing the tempo has been one goal of the spring. Does the players' familiarity with the system help achieve the goal?

Mike Norvell: "No question. That's something that has been a big help. At least understand what the terms and the expectations are is half the battle. We are playing fast but we're not playing where we need to be. We got to continue to get faster but it has definitely improved."

DevilsDigest: One player you probably have the most expectations of is Taylor Kelly. How would you assess his performance this spring?

Mike Norvell: "I think he's had a good spring. What I've challenged Taylor with is consistency and everyday playing to the best of his level. I tell him I want his best day every day. When he steps on that field, he takes that to heart and really goes out there and works to stay aloft. I've seen a lot of good things. He's becoming very consistent and he's doing a good job of protecting the football."

DevilsDigest: Mike Bercovici is probably one of the biggest spring surprises. Can you talk about his play in recent weeks?

Mike Norvell: "He's done well. He's continued to push himself. He's been working hard and doing a lot of good things. I'm proud of Mike. I'm proud of all the quarterbacks. We have great competition. (Mike) Eubank is continuing to get better. All those guys are pushing each other and helping each other. They all have had plays that we would like to have back, but they're doing a good job."

DevilsDigest: Prior to spring practice, Todd Graham talked about putting even more emphasis on running the ball. How do you feel this group has responded to that challenge?

Mike Norvell: "I think they like the mentality. That's something that we talked to them about. What's our identity going to be? As far as those guys up front, Coach Thomsen is doing a great job with them; obviously continuing to instill that mindset and belief. Seeing those guys out there working has been a good job. We've had some good runs, some good explosive plays in the run game and that's something we definitely want."

DevilsDigest: Another surprising player this spring has been Deantre Lewis. How encouraging has it been to see him perform at a high level after battling such a serious injury?

Mike Norvell: "It's good. Deantre has worked extremely hard and had a great off-season. Getting him back and getting his confidence back. We're going to keep continuing to get him in shape and being able to be an every-down kind of guy. We got great competition in the backfield. He's continuing to be there with Marion (Grice), DJ (Foster), and Terrell Davis. We got a great group of backs there. They all push each other each and every day."

DevilsDigest: The wide receivers group was an area of concern on offense in 2012. Have you seen them develop and improve this spring?

Mike Norvell: "I have. Kevin Ozier has been a guy that's really stepped up. I think going into his senior year knowing that he's going to have to be a leader of the group. Richard Smith has done a good job of continuing to progress. They got to grow each and every day. We got some guys that are going to be coming in to help that group here in the summer but I'm proud of the guys and the way they've been working. We just have to have more consistency out of that group here but I'm looking forward to the group we're going to be putting on the field this fall."

DevilsDigest: Richard Smith is probably the brightest spot of that unit. How much has he improved from his freshman season?

Mike Norvell: "He's just been growing up with his work ethic and understanding. Sometimes when guys come in from high school, it's kind of a total shock to their system. Rick has done a good job of really buying in to what we're doing and the type of work ethic; the pushing himself each and every day at practice. I'm expecting big things from him."

DevilsDigest: Is there one area that still concerns you at this point of spring practice?

Mike Norvell: "We got to continue to grow and be more consistent. Continue to be better at executing every play. I think we're going to continue to progress towards that here in the rest of the spring but that's something that I definitely want to see them continue to improve."

DevilsDigest: You have tinkered with the Pistol offense during spring. Are you pleased with the results so far?

Mike Norvell: "It's a wrinkle that we have utilized in the past. Just to kind of get our guys accustomed to it year two, it presents a couple different reads and different looks. I think the guys have adapted to it well. I think our backs; we've got Marion and DJ who are great downhill backs, so it really helps them. It's been good looking at that."

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