ASU fans are well aware of the talents and skills that RB DJ Foster brings to this Sun Devil football team. Last season, after starting running back, Marion Grice, went down with an injury, Foster stepped in. He was brilliant. Foster looked like a veteran All-American running back against Arizona, Stanford and Texas Tech. He amassed about 100 yards a game and produced the “big run” touchdowns that quite frankly were missing from the offense.
So, it’s no wonder that Foster is getting first team reps at running back. Every coach wants that kind of explosiveness in the backfield. But there are some considerations:
1) Can he take the hits? Specifically, can Foster carry the ball 20 plus times every game and stay effective and healthy? Obviously, that remains to be seen. But if the answer is no, then he’ll be rotated in at running back. That’s fine, but now his services will not be utilized on many offensive plays.
2) Can fellow running backs Deantre Lewis, Kyle Middlebrooks or De’Chavon Hayes be just as productive? Again, that remains to be seen. But if they can, wouldn’t it be smart to move Foster back out to the slot receiver position? This might be more significant now that slot receiver Rick Smith has left the program.
Devils in Detail believes that the other running backs, especially Lewis, can pick up the slack at this position and do just fine. This will probably free up offensive coordinator Mike Norvelle to use Foster as he has in the past, a hybrid receiver/running back.
It’s a good problem to have; talented depth at skill positions. For now, Foster is “the man” at running back. He has an ability to find that cut-back lane and hit the hole hard. And he sure does look smooth running the ball. But asking him to be the man every game all year might be too much.
Time will tell, but expect to see a varied game plan every week as it pertains to DJ Foster. The coaching staff will have to consider Foster’s health, utilizing other talented backs and game-planning for a specific opponent.
Fans can expect this topic to be an interesting sub-plot all season long. Then again, maybe Foster will stay put at running back, get 25 carries in every game, rack up 1500 yards rushing and be a Heisman candidate. It could happen. That’s the beauty of college football and why it’s so popular.