Monday, March 25, 2013
Norvell, ASU going deeper into playbook
By Kevin Gemmell
By his own admission, Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell is sleeping better. He's sawing logs instead of laying awake at night counting reps -- trying to find the right way to divide time between three quarterbacks competing for Arizona State's starting job.
As we all know, Taylor Kelly emerged from the competition of three last year to win ASU's starting quarterback position, and he led the Sun Devils to an 8-5 record.
That Kelly guy turned out to be pretty good also -- completing 67.1 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He finished ninth nationally in passing efficiency, second only to Oregon's Marcus Mariota (7th nationally) among Pac-12 quarterbacks.
This year, there is no competition, at least for the starting spot. Kelly is the guy. And that puts Norvell at ease.
"Anytime you go into a spring with a guy that has that experience and you know what he can on game day and you have a sense of what you have, it's refreshing," Norvell said. "There aren't as many sleepless nights. We're very excited about Taylor and what his future is going to be.
"We still have great competition at that position with Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici and they are continuing to push him each and every day at practice. That's the good thing about our situation, we feel like we've got three great quarterbacks and they are all continuing to grow. But it is nice to know you have your guy in there that can get it done on game day."
Norvell believes the Sun Devils have only scratched the surface of what they are capable of offensively. With an efficient starter like Kelly and a running back corps that is phenomenal in space, Norvell can use this time to dream up more crazy ways to get the ball to his backs.
"There's more of a knowledge of the offense as a whole," Norvell said. "I was talking about this to a couple of coaches after our first practice. To get done with that practice and the fact they had a sense of what we were doing was nice. This time last year it was completely foreign to them. Being able to build on that first year experience and the overall knowledge, now you are able to get more advanced. To put in more of the offense. To look at different things and be able to build on the success and also get a little more complex with what we want to do."
He's also heard the increased buzz about the team, knowing full well that high expectations will clash with a difficult schedule in just a few months.
"Right now we're just focused on ourselves," he said. "The biggest thing with spring ball is making sure each player is getting better. Right now it's about finding an identity with the guys we have and letting them grown and come together. We know we have a great challenge this season. Our guys will have to come out and start fast and we'll continue to build from there."