Not since Batman and Robin has a dynamic duo been this exciting. I’m talking about Arizona State running backs D.J. Foster and Marion Grice. The talented pair of ball carriers, along with quarterback Taylor Kelly, carried the load for ASU in spectacular fashion Thursday evening, propelling the Sun Devils to a 51-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes.
It wasn’t always supposed to be this way.
Prior to the 2012 season, most observers expected senior RB Cameron Marshall to headline the Sun Devils’ ground game. At quarterback, sophomore Mike Bercovici looked like a shoe-in to win the starting job. But as ASU prepares for a nationally-televised match-up against No. 2 Oregon on Oct. 18th, Marshall is struggling to regain the spotlight while Bercovici is relegated to third string.
Against Colorado, Foster’s fluid running style translated to momentum-changing carries and a 34-yard touchdown reception. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Grice, a prized junior-college transfer, showed his versatility and elusiveness with three TD receptions.
Kelly, meanwhile, was his usual productive self. He completed 20 of 28 for 308 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. He also rushed for 85 yards. Kelly’s confidence seems to be growing with each passing week.
Not surprisingly, Arizona State had to face a spook house full of demons in Boulder. Many ASU fans (myself included) feared the meeting with Colorado could be a “trap game.” And really, who could have blamed the Sun Devils for looking past this opponent? Colorado, dropping to 1-5, came into the contest ranked last in pass defense and scoring defense. Its offense was on life support. But in the first half, the Buffs put an early Halloween scare into Todd Graham’s crew, going into the break down by only three points.
Arizona State came to life in the second half—and that’s putting it mildly.
ASU speedster Rashad Ross opened the third quarter with a 100-yard kickoff return, and the rout was on. Colorado had difficulty coping with the Sun Devils’ defensive pressure, and QB Jordan Webb’s first five pass attempts in the quarter were incompletions. ASU’s second possession resulted in a Kelly-to-Grice 20-yard scoring connection.
In the final period, Colorado seemed ready to call it a night. ASU took full advantage of the situation, with kicker Jon Mora connecting on a 38-yard field goal, Richard Smith hauling in a 31-yard pass play, and Cameron Marshall adding a 14-yard touchdown run. Colorado failed to score in the final minutes of the game, and ASU came home with a convincing victory.
Most prognosticators believe ASU has little or no chance against Oregon. Certainly, the odds of a Sun Devil victory appear slim. However, if Kelly, Foster, Grice and Co. has proven anything this season, it’s that challenges present opportunities. Football is a game played on the field—not in a commentator’s booth. Let’s give the Devils their due.