Bill Slane

Grice and rushing attack critical for remainder of the season

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Through the first seven games of the season, the Arizona State Sun Devils have obviously had a lot of success offensively. They are currently 12th in the nation in scoring with 318 points and 30th in total offense. It has certainly not always been perfect, and when it hasn’t looked good there has always one thing that seems to hold the team back. The rushing attack of the Sun Devils is full of talent, and was even very productive against the Washington Huskies, but they will need to step up in the back end of the schedule for the Sun Devils to succeed.

In the two losses for the Sun Devils, Senior Marion Grice has had his two worst games of the season in terms of yardage. He had just 50 yards against the Stanford Cardinal, a game where Arizona State did have to throw the ball a lot to get themselves out of a huge early hole, and just 51 against Notre Dame. In fact before his 158-yard performance against the Huskies, Grice hadn’t even had a game of at least 90 yards. Despite his somewhat low yardage totals, Grice has been the team’s leading rusher in all but one game, USC, where Taylor Kelly led in that category with 79 yards.

At the moment, Arizona State has amassed 1240 yards on the ground, making them the 69th best rushing team in the nation. Coach Graham is looking for more.

“I want to be one of the best rushing teams in the country, because that’s what makes it work,” Coach Graham said at his weekly press conference on Monday.

The ground game for the Sun Devils will need to keep the momentum they gained against Washington to continue their offensive success down the road. Being able to run the consistently and with success opens up all of the other options for Taylor Kelly and the passing game. It allows Mike Norvell to open up the playbook and implement more play action to keep the defense honest.

Despite not having the flashy numbers in yardage, the Sun Devils have been very productive on the ground when it comes to the stat that matters most: scoring. The team has 19 touchdowns on the ground, one more than Kelly has passing, and is 20th in the nation when it comes to rushing touchdowns. Marion Grice is a big part of that number of course, he is currently tied for first in the nation for most rushing touchdowns with 12 along with seven other players. It’s interesting to note that of all of those players, Grice’s longest run is the shortest (29 yards).

Things aren’t going to be getting easier for the Sun Devils. If there is anything that is a fact in college football, it’s that you never know what’s going to happen in any given matchup. The performance against the Huskies was certainly a good sign for the running game, and it will be critical for the team to keep that momentum going through the remainder of the season.

 

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