Last season, it took ASU football senior running back Marion Grice half the season to carve out a defined role in the offense.
This year, Grice found his role as featured running back after only two games, something he admits took him by surprise.
“No, I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m just doing anything I have to do to help my team win,” Grice said.
Grice has helped the Sun Devils (2-0) win, especially vs. Wisconsin, when he ran for 84 yards and collected four touchdowns.
Running backs coach Bo Graham said he expected Grice, who has rushed 26 more times than any other ASU back this season, to take the top spot early in the season, especially with his discipline.
“He’s done a great job obviously holding onto the football, and that’s our number one priority,” Graham said.
Graham also pointed to Grice’s ability to reach the end zone as a reason he’s taking the bulk of carries over sophomore D.J. Foster and redshirt junior Deantre Lewis.
“I think all three of them have the ability to score, but Marion did a great job of putting the ball into the end zone last week,” Graham said.
Graham has also been impressed with Grice’s improvement in his pass protection, something that has kept him on the field in obvious passing downs.
“He stepped up as a physical pass protector,” Graham said. “If you watch film from the last game, he was stepping up and putting guys on the ground.”
Grice says he’s comfortable in his second year of the offense and is physically ready to continue leading the rush offense.
“I’m very comfortable,” Grice said. “I’ve learned all my plays, and I pretty much know what to do behind my O-lineman now.”
Graham also has full confidence in Grice, who has rushed for 143 yards and five touchdowns this season, and said he is looking forward to seeing what he can do against another stout defense this week in Stanford.
“He’s still healthy, and everything points to him doing it so we are going to stick with him,” Graham said.
-Coach Todd Graham said Tuesday’s practice was the Sun Devils’ “best of the season.” Graham also noted the Wisconsin game took a toll on his team but was proud of how not a single player sat out practice.
-Freshman receiver Cam Smith saw action with the second group and outmuscled redshirt sophomore cornerback Rashad Wadood to make a catch. Graham said he wanted Smith and fellow freshman receiver Ellis Jefferson to see game action soon.
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