Arizona State OC Mike Norvell: ‘I have not done a good enough job’

Sep 30, 2015, 4:35 PM | Updated: Oct 1, 2015, 7:04 am

TEMPE, Ariz. — Why is first-and-goal from the 1-yard line such a chore for Arizona State?

In each of the past three games, the Sun Devils have lined up a single yard from the end zone and failed to score a touchdown.

Against Cal Poly, ASU rushed for no gain, rushed for a one-yard loss and threw an incomplete pass before quarterback Mike Bercovici was intercepted on fourth down.

In the New Mexico game, the Sun Devils faced a first-and-goal from the Lobos’ 1-yard line in the second quarter. They rushed twice for a loss of four yards and Bercovici missed tight end Kody Kohl on third down. They settled for a 22-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez.

Last week, though, might have been the most egregious failure to punch home a touchdown.

With USC leading 21-0 late in the second quarter, ASU advanced to the USC 1, but on the 10th play of the drive, Bercovici mishandled the snap from backup center Stephon McCray, who was pressed into action due to an injury to Nick Kelly. The loose football was picked up by Chris Hawkins and returned 94 yards the other way for a touchdown.

“We obviously have to execute better when we get down there,” offensive coordinator Mike Norvell said Wednesday. “That’s something that we’ve been working hard at and so we definitely have to clean up the execution. Some decision making, when bad things do happen, we got to make sure we’re making great decisions in that. I got to call better (plays) when we get down there and make sure we get the ball in the end zone.”

In 18 trips inside the red zone this season, the Sun Devils have scored 14 times, including 11 touchdowns (six run, five pass).

Three times (once on downs) they’ve turned the ball over and missed a field goal.

Their efficiency inside the 20-yard line ranks 10th in the Pac-12 and 93rd nationally.

On most of the red-zone snaps, Bercovici is in the shotgun, as he was against USC, a decision that did not sit well with head coach Todd Graham.

“I can tell you what I vote for: not being in the gun, I can tell you that,” he said on the postgame show.

Asked about having the quarterback in shotgun formation versus under center when near the goal line, Norvell explained the run-threat is greater with either the quarterback or another ball carrier.

“I know there’s probably bigger room for error the closer you get with being in the shotgun and you understand that, but there’s also another option and a different threat of who could run the football rather than just having to do a naked or boot your quarterback (outside the pocket),” he said.

“All that stuff is thought through and it’s part of scheme, part of concepts; just things that we look at and we have the ability to do both.”

The offense has also struggled to get the ball to D.J. Foster, perhaps ASU’s best playmaker.

Through four games, Foster has rushed the ball 21 times for 111 yards and caught 22 passes for 189 yards. He’s averaging just over 10 touches per game, and in none of those three first-and-goal from the 1 scenarios was he either handed the ball or targeted.

“When we have an opportunity to throw to D.J, we like to throw to D.J,” Norvell said. “That’s something we’re going to continue to do, continue to try to find ways to get him the football and make sure we have an opportunity for him to impact the game.”

As rough as a performance as the Sun Devils exhibited against USC, they had better make the necessary improvements, and fast.

The opponent this week, UCLA (4-0), is ranked seventh in the country.

“Have we played as well as I want us to? No. We haven’t. Everything you see on that field I’m 100 percent responsible for. I have not done a good enough job, and we’re working on continuing to improve that,” Norvell said.

“I’ve got 100 percent confidence in our guys, what we’re going to do, the way that we’ve worked, the way that we’re continuing to work and practice and improve, and so for us, it’s just about going out and getting it done. My expectations have not changed one bit for what I think this offense can be, what I think we’re going to be, we just got to go out and do it.”

Penguin Air

Arizona State Football

A Arizona State Sun Devils pylon with a football during the NCAAF game against the USC Trojans at S...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 Conference to begin negotiations for next media rights agreements

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met on Tuesday and authorized the conference to immediately begin negotiations for new media rights agreements.
2 days ago
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 exploring all expansion options with USC, UCLA heading to Big Ten

The Pac-12 is looking into expansion following the decisions from USC and UCLA on Thursday to head to the Big Ten as early as 2024.
6 days ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona ‘extremely disappointed’ in USC, UCLA leaving Pac-12 for Big Ten

The Arizona Wildcats broke their silence Friday regarding USC's and UCLA's plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024.
6 days ago
UCLA plays Oregon during a Pac-12 NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., ...
Arizona Sports

UCLA, USC to leave Pac-12 for Big Ten in 2024

UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, beginning in the 2024-25 season, the two schools confirmed on Thursday evening.
7 days ago
Defensive back Jordan Clark #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates with the Territorial Cup ...
Nikash Nath

Kyle Soelle, Jordan Clark ready to lead new faces for ASU football

ASU junior CB Jordan Clark and senior captain LB Kyle Soelle are expected to lead a Sun Devils defensive that'll have many new faces in 2022.
13 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson (77) lines up during the college foot...
Nikash Nath

Arizona State OL LaDarius Henderson talks new culture amid low expectations

OL LaDarius Henderson has been with ASU since 2019 and is no stranger to experiencing personnel and cultural changes within the program.
22 days ago
Arizona State OC Mike Norvell: ‘I have not done a good enough job’