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ASU Football: OC Mike Norvell, DC Keith Patterson explains moves to coach from sidelines

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In a game in which ASU needed an emotional boost, Mike Norvell and Keith Patterson's move to the sidelines sparked the team on both sides of the ball.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, the "eye in the sky" needs to be brought back down.

Perhaps the Arizona State Sun Devils' largest adjustment in their upset over the then No.-7 UCLA Bruins last week was bringing offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to coach from the sidelines.

Norvell, who used to call games entirely from the sideline in his first three years with Arizona State, moved to the press box for the Sun Devils' first four weeks to fill a void left by former running backs coach Bo Graham. Patterson said he hadn't coached a game from the sideline since 2010.

But last week, coach Todd Graham believed his team needed a boost on both sides of the ball. Moving Norvell and Patterson seemed to have led to both groups flowing at their best this season, and the move was widely praised by Graham and players in practice this week.

"It was a deal with our kids," Patterson said after Wednesday's practice. "Just wanted to try and bring positive energy to the sideline, and the kids responded (by) playing very hard."

"I love being a part of the game down on the field," Norvell said. "There is a different perspective being up in the box. Being able to see the full field, there are certain things that are probably a little quicker to see or have a sense of, but nothing matches the intensity and the emotion of being down on the field. When the guys come off, you'll be able to look them in the eye and just get a sense on where they're at, what are they feeling or what do they see, the emotion we're all putting in the game. I love it.

"It was getting back to having some fun on gameday," he said.

Neither coach really confirmed whether being on the sideline will be a permanent fixture for the rest of the season. Like Norvell, Patterson weighed the pros and cons of coaching from both places.

"Every situation, year and team is different," Patterson said. "Sometimes, being down on the field is better. Sometimes, being in the box is better. If you have a more veteran group, senior-led type, group, a lot of times I go up in the press box."

Although the move can be easily traced to the Sun Devils' win over UCLA, both coaches believe their personnel is improving in other assets.

Norvell said quarterback Mike Bercovici's confidence in running with this football is starting to build, allowing ASU's offense to spread the field. Patterson said his defensive players like Salamo Fiso have been focusing and committing to become better players

"You're dealing with 18-, 19-, 20-year-old men, and it's amazing what one win will do for your confidence," Patterson said.

While Norvell acknowledged last week was Arizona State's best offensive performance of the season so far, it still wasn't the best game that his group could have played.

"I don't think we've played by any stretch our best game, but there are definitely some things that we've improved on," Norvell said. "You saw some flashes of who we can be, what we can become, but there are still a lot of things we have to clean up to get to where we want to go."