ASU utilizes RB Grice talents on offense

Junior running back Marion Grice carries the ball into the end zone for one of his three touchdown receptions in ASU’s 51-17 victory on Oct. 11 over Colorado. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

One of the Sun Devils best receiving weapons does not typically line up at wide receiver.

Junior running back Marion Grice had great success catching the ball against Colorado last week.

He had so much success that red shirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly put the ball in his hands five times for 101 yards. What’s more impressive is the fact that three of Grice’s five catches were for a touchdown.

In Boulder, Grice showed he could be effective catching out of the backfield, especially on screen plays. Grice said that he accomplished a lot last Thursday because of the work he put in during the week.

“We basically work every day about our route running,” Grice said. “We called a lot of pass plays so I basically took it like I was at practice, ran all my routes and made some good catches.”

Grice’s most effective route against the Buffaloes was the screen pass.

In a screen pass, the offense pretends to be setting up a long pass. The running back and offensive linemen set up in a pass block then let the defenders get by them. The quarterback then dumps the ball off to the running back with the linemen in front of him, protecting him downfield for a long run.

Grice showed good chemistry with his line, and the screen pass led to two touchdowns.

One touchdown was a 37-yard screen in the 2nd quarter, while the other was a 20-yard screen in the third to help put the game away.

Grice said there’s another key to running a good screen play besides simply executing on the field.

“It’s film study,” Grice said. “You have to study your film. You have to know the down linemen, know the fronts and basically whatever side of the call is called, track the open gap and just leak out.”

ASU’s offensive line is not the biggest in the conference — it averages about 292 pounds — but the lean group of linemen comes in handy when setting up the screen. The ASU offensive line’s athleticism helps them get out of the pocket and set up blocks downfield quickly.

Because of the linemen’s quick movements, Grice was able to have success.

“Our o-linemen — they’re pretty good, they’re pretty athletic big guys,” Grice said. “They can make something out of nothing. I believe in them getting their job done on the screen plays.”

 

Rogers emerging

Junior tight end Darwin Rogers had a pretty good birthday, as he scored his first career touchdown against Cal on Sept. 29.

With the attention that junior tight end Chris Coyle has been getting at the H-back position, it has been easy to overlook his backup, who is quietly making an impact.

In his limited time on the field, Rogers has two catches for 21 yards and the touchdown.

Rogers lost the starting job early in fall camp to Coyle, but Rogers said he embraces the backup role and wants to help the team when he gets the opportunity.

“Chris Coyle — he’s been doing good right now,” Rogers said. “We’re just helping each other getting better. I help him out with certain things because he’s the starter. I’m going to support him. I’ve just been waiting, being patient. In practice I go hard, you never know when it’s your time to come.”

If Rogers does get an opportunity against Oregon, he is hoping to make a big impact.

 

Kelly honored

Quarterback Taylor Kelly was named to Allstate Sugar Bowl Manning Award watch list.

The Manning Award is named after quarterbacks Archie and Eli Manning. Kelly was put on the list after posting a 5-1 record and the second highest quarterback efficiency rating the country of 176.

The winner of the award will be announced after the bowls have been completed.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu