Q&A with Mike Norvell

At the mid-season point and with an important road game at Washington State looming large, we caught up with Arizona State's offensive coordinator to get his evaluation of his group and his thoughts on his team's upcoming matchup.

DevilsDigest: Halfway through the season now, what's your evaluation of the offense's performance so far?

Norvell: "We've been progressing well. There have been some games where we haven't played as well as we'd have liked to. But we are continuing to get better and we want to get better each and every week. If we can do that we have a chance to do something special."

DevilsDigest: Has there been one guy on offense that has stood out the most to you?

Norvell: "We have had a lot of guys that have played at a high level. I think Taylor (Kelly) is playing extremely well, Marion (Grice) obviously, D.J. (Foster), all of those guys are doing a great job. Jaelen (Strong) has come in and been able to help us out a lot too. I'm really proud of the guys up front with how they're growing and we will continue to get better."

DevilsDigest: Coach Graham has mentioned that despite all of the big performances from Jaelen Strong, he still believes there's major room for improvement in his game. What are some of the improvements that he can make?

Norvell: "I would say consistency and really in every area in his game. He's only been with us for a couple of months and I think he's just scratching the surface of where he can get to."

DevilsDigest: Taylor Kelly has played very well this year; is he at the level halfway through the season you thought he'd be?

Norvell: "I think he's playing at a high level. He's improving and I think he's got a bright future ahead of him. But we just have to continue to grow. We always need to improve upon timing and getting the ball out. I think he's definitely doing a great job. He's utilizing his legs and hurting the teams through the air as well."

DevilsDigest: Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank haven't seen the field all that much with their roles; at this point are you comfortable with your backup quarterbacks to come in and produce if something were to happen to Kelly?

Norvell: "I think we have got a great group. Those guys are definitely preparing themselves for whatever opportunity they get and that's something they're continuing to grow with."

DevilsDigest: D.J. Foster has been utilized at wide receiver for the majority of the year. How would you rate his performance there and will he see more action at running back going forward

Norvell: "D.J. is doing the same exact thing that he was doing last year. It's just the volume of what he is able to do at receiver is improved and increased. He's definitely a guy that we are going to try to get at least 10-15 touches a game. So however those touches come, we want to make sure that we are getting it to him."

DevilsDigest: Marion Grice showed flashes of his potential last season, and now this year it's come to the forefront. Did you think he would be this impressive?

Norvell: "I think Marion has done a great job. Last year we didn't have him for the offseason and he just came into the program. He's done a good job of obviously understanding what we are trying to do offensively. His body, his preparation and getting better over the summer and spring, that's prepared him to be a better football player. He's still working to get better in each area but I'm really proud of the way he's running."

DevilsDigest: With the improved wide receiver unit on this team, it was expected that tight end Chris Coyle's production would slip just a little from last season. With that said, do you think he's still playing at that high level?

Norvell: "You look at each game, we are taking what the defense gives us. Last game against Washington he had a huge game. Teams start taking extra bodies and take away Jaelen, D.J. and those guys, then you get the one on one matchup. At the beginning of the season Jaelen was getting a lot of opportunities because they were focused on Chris. So everybody just has to be ready when the opportunity comes to them."

DevilsDigest: When you look at the wide receiver stats, there's a significant drop off in production after Jaelen Strong. Is that concerning to you or are you confident in the other options on the team?

Norvell: "I think you look at last week's game when we didn't have Jaelen and you have got a guy like Kevin Ozier that stepped up and had a huge game. Chris Coyle, Marion, D.J.; this offense, we are going to take what the defense gives us. Guys have to be ready to make plays when they get their shots and I feel very confident in the guys we have."

DevilsDigest: Last question, Washington State hasn't been a defense that you'd worry too much about heading into the game, but they have shown some flashes of solid play. What do you see in them that may pose a problem for this offense

Norvell: "They are a big physical defense. I think their kids play extremely hard and they are very emotional in what they do. They're an attack style defense. We have got to come and play and we can't hurt ourselves. We have got to take care of the football and make some plays but I'm excited about the opportunity."

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