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ASU’s Marion Grice: ‘I have a smell for the end zone’

TEMPE, Ariz. — Give the ball to Marion Grice and good things are going to happen.

Through two games, Arizona State’s senior tailback has six touchdowns — five rushing and one receiving.

He scored four times — including what proved to be the game-winner — against Wisconsin, becoming the first Sun Devil to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Mike Williams ran for four at Arizona on Nov. 29, 2002.

“I just basically have a smell for the end zone. I see myself there,” Grice said Tuesday after practice. “I have to get the offense off the field, so I’m going to do everything I can to get there.”

His touchdown total should not be a surprise to anyone. Remember, he scored 19 times last year, tying him for third on ASU’s all-time single-season touchdown list.

No, it’s the frequency in which Grice is scoring. He averages a score every 7.5 touches, second in the Pac-12 to only Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, who finds the end zone once in every five touches.

“I just work hard every day in practice for it; just work my way into the end zone every time we’re in the red zone,” Grice said.

Asked about his running back’s nose for the end zone, head coach Todd Graham said, “I think 99.9 percent of that is instinct. He has a great gift running the football and he has an interesting style. I mean sometimes I look at him and wondering if he’s going full speed because he is going so smooth on his runs. But he is very tough and very physical and finds that end zone and I think he is very instinctive.”

One of the nation’s top junior college additions a year ago, Grice was among those listed on the preseason watch list for both the Maxwell Award (top player) and Doak Walker Award (top running back).

Thus far, he’s done nothing but strengthen his case as one of the premier college football players in the country, leading the team in both rushing (143) and receiving yards (115).

Heading into this week’s conference opener at No. 5 Stanford, Grice is the nation’s leading scorer, averaging 18.0 points per game.

“What’s going through my mind is I hope we call a run play,” he said when asked what goes through his mind when the Sun Devils are inside the red zone. “And if we call a run play, I’m going to get us there. That’s pretty much what is on my mind is just to get to the end zone as fast as I can and get off the field.”

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