Richard ready to keep bludgeoning opponents with Arizona State rushing attack

Arizona State relied on his established running back duo of Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage as the offensive came back from a 16-point second half deficit against UTSA.

Demario Richard is fine with anyone willing to test his manhood on the football field. 

A 5-foot-10, 220 pound junior who ground out 1,104 rushing yards last season, Richard is known for his punishing downhill style and ability to drag defenders with him.

"I feed off physicality," Richard said on Wednesday. "Most of my runs come after contact. I feed off physicality and don't shy away from nobody. I'm pretty sure a lot of people know that and notice that. So whoever feel like they got the balls to step in the gap, that's what it is."

Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey clearly has a lot of confidence in Richard and his backfield partner, junior Kalen Ballage, who tied a Pac-12 record with eight touchdowns against Texas Tech two weeks ago. 

With the Sun Devils trailing 28-15 against UTSA on Saturday, Lindsey dialed up 10 running plays in a row on the team's final drive of the third quarter. It wasn't by coincidence. 

"It was one of those things where I felt like, just put the ball in our players' hands and put it on our offensive line and say here it is, 'we're going to put it on your back.' I just felt like we could keep running it," Lindsey said. 

Earlier in the game the Roadrunners were daring Wilkins to throw the football by loading up the box. But in the second half, Lindsey decided he'd just brutalize UTSA via a punishing ground game. A remarkable 22 of the Sun Devils' 34 plays from scrimmage in the second half were runs in the come-from-behind 32-28 win. That's not a common approach to overcoming two touchdown deficits in the second half, but it worked for ASU. 

"My physical game is wear and tear," Richard said. "I just felt like, they started to get tired, they didn't want to tackle. Let me get the ball going downhill, or let any of our back get the ball going downhill and we'll be fine. As you can see we did that the first two weeks and positive games. We know that coming up people are going to have to start loading the box against us. You're still going to have to stop us no matter what.

"We break defenses down. We're running so hard and you have an offensive line that's working and still got a quarterback who can pull the ball down and run or spit it to a receiver, you're going to eventually get tired of it. You're going to be tired, your defense is going to be tired. We run a lot of inside zone, power, a lot of people aren't going to want to tackle somebody that is 220 pounds, 230 pounds 11 times in a row like you said. It's a wear and tear on them too. I guarantee you they felt something the next day."

Richard finished with 95 rushing yards on 22 carries on the night, with 14 of his rushes coming in the second half as the Roadrunners were increasingly worn out. 

"He's physical, he's downhill, he understands what it means to run between the tackles," Lindsey said. "I think our guys feed off of that. He hit a few runs that you could see it in his body language, he got up and he wanted it more and that's what you want to see out of a guy that's played a lot for sure." 

The Sun Devils are now averaging 260.7 rushing yards per game, second in the Pac-12, and 5.3 yards per carry, which is third best in the league. Next up they'll play a Cal team Saturday that is yielding a league-worst 296.7 yards rushing and 6.6 yards per play. It's an opportunity for ASU to go undefeated through September and the first third of their regular season schedule. 

"I told y'all it was only a matter of time before you'd get to see everything we're doing, so of course I'm happy with it," Richard said. "We're winning games, 3-0, about to start conference play. Very excited about that and excited to see the task at hand for us.

"We're just getting started I feel like. We still got a lot more football ahead of us, a lot more stuff we still can run that we haven't showed." 

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