There aren't too many facts that can be stated with confidence about the 2012-13 ASU Sun Devils. The team faces a lot of turnover in personnel from last year, from head coach Todd Graham and his coaching staff to players such as Brock Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict. With all of these new faces in place alongside a new system, there's no telling how things will play out over the course of the season. One thing that is certain, however, is that the 2012-13 Sun Devils will have incredible depth at running back.
Let's sort this out: first off we have last year's starter, Cameron Marshall, who had an outstanding season on his way to the ASU record books. Marshall is recovering from a surgery right now but figures to be ready by the time the season rolls around. Then there's incoming freshman DJ Foster and juco transfer Marion Grice, two potentially important cogs that ASU didn't have last year. Throw in Deantre Lewis, who looks solid during spring practice following his recovery from a gunshot wound, and you've got four solid running backs who can all contribute to Graham's run-heavy offense.
But that's not all: senior James Morrison is starting to emerge during spring practice. With Marshall out, Morrison has stepped in and is proving to be an able contributor. Graham has certainly been impressed with his ability.
Add it all up and you have five backs that could warrant snaps once September rolls around. That's a good thing, right?
Click through to find out.
Perhaps, but it also presents its own set of challenges. Graham will have to make a decision on which two or three guys he's really willing to stick with this year, and to do so he'll probably give all of them a chance on the field early on. In a system that figures to rely heavily on the run, a lack of consistency at the RB position could cause the offense to stagnate.
Once Graham finds the right combination of runners, however, the offense should get into a set pattern and (hopefully) produce yardage. The real question surrounding this deep running back group, then, is how long will it take for Graham to put together all of their strengths?
My guess is three weeks. With three games under his belt, Graham should have a good indication of each players' ability and confidence level on the field. He will then be able to dole out roles- and carries- accordingly.
How many weeks into the season do you think it'll take for Graham to figure out his platoon of running backs? Cast your vote below. And, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, which RBs will emerge as the top options? My money is on Foster, Marshall and Lewis (in that order); leave your thoughts in the Comments area.
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