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ASU Football: Mike Norvell takes responsibility for offensive problems

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News and notes from Wednesday's practice where the coordinators broke down UCLA and Mike Norvell broke down ASU's offensive issues.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Through four games of the 2015 season, the high-octane offense that ASU fans are used to seeing has been, for the most part, missing in action. Against their two Power 5 opponents, ASU has combined to score just 31 points and the Sun Devils did not fire on all cylinders against Cal Poly or New Mexico either.

While some credit has to go to the defenses of USC and Texas A&M, the Sun Devils know they are not playing up to their ability. The ASU offense has had a difficult time fining a rhythm - particularly in the passing game - and after Wednesday's practice Mike Norvell did something every good coach does: he pointed the finger at himself.

"Everything you see on that field I am 100 percent responsible for," Norvell said. "I have not done a good enough job."

The Sun Devils rank 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring offense, averaging 25 points per game. ASU ranks 10th in rushing offense and 4th in passing offense.

"There are games where I don't think I've put our guys in the best position to be successful," Norvell said. "Have we played as well as I want us to? No, we haven't."

The next opportunity for the Sun Devils get some momentum on offense comes Saturday afternoon in the Rose Bowl. The UCLA Bruins hold the conference's fifth ranked total defense, however they rank last in the conference in rushing defense and are without star linebacker Myles Jack.

"It's a very talented and deep group. They play a lot of guys, they are extremely athletic and fast in the back end," Norvell said about the UCLA defense. "The defensive line is extremely talented, I think Kenny Clark is one of the best nose tackles in the league. Across the board they have some special athletes and special players."

Norvell - like Todd Graham has in the past - expressed confidence that the Sun Devils regain their high-octane form of previous seasons.

"We've had some things that we haven't executed as well as we need to," he said. "We are working to improve that, but I have 100 percent confidence in our guys and what we are going to do."

Breaking Down the UCLA Offense

On the opposite side of the football, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson and his unit face a big challenge Saturday afternoon. UCLA is averaging over 230 yards on the ground this season, led by Chandler, Ariz., native Paul Perkins.

"He has great balance and he has great vision," Patterson said of Perkins. "He's a very patient runner and he just kind of takes what the defense gives him. You can tell he's very strong and he makes you tackle him every down."

Despite Perkins having rushed for over 500 yards, when most people talk about the UCLA offense, they talk about true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. This time last year, Rosen was playing high school football in Southern California, now he is completing 62.5 percent of his passes for the Bruins, with a quarterback rating of 137.6.

Patterson was asked if he thought Rosen was playing like a true freshman.

Not really, he's stepped in and been really solid so far," he said. "They (UCLA) are so balanced. They are 50-50 run/pass and they do a great job of keeping you off-balance so you have to make them one dimensional. You can't allow them to set up the run game."

Rosen set the college football world ablaze when he threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against Virginia. Since then he has come down to earth, including throwing three interceptions against BYU. Last week against Arizona he went 19-for-28 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I think he's doing a nice job of spreading the football around. He's not doing anything to put the ball in jeopardy and he has playmakers around him. He's letting the system work for him," said Patterson.


  • During the team period that the media was allowed to observe, De'Chavon Hayes was running with the first team defense at cornerback. Llyod Carrington was injured against USC and his status for Saturday is uncertain. Hayes intercepted a pass in the end zone intended for Devin Lucien that was a bit underthrown from Mike Bercovici.
  • The defensive linemen were working tackling drills against a dummy, but instead of normally just hitting and running through the dummy, they worked on wrapping the dummy up and taking it to the ground.
  • Players in green (non-contact) jerseys: Armand Perry, Fred Gammage, Cam Smith, Jalen Harvey and Dillon Faamatau.