ASU's D.J. Foster looking for a big game vs No. 18 WisconsinPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Five touches for 34 yards.
Not exactly the kind of numbers that Arizona State fans have come to expect from D.J. Foster, the explosive sophomore running back.
Reason for worry? Hardly.
The 2012 Freshman All-American was oh-so-close to a number of big time plays, including the Sun Devils' first snap of 2013.
"We missed a couple of opportunities to D.J. that could have been big, explosive plays," said ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. Facing Sacramento State of the FCS, Foster's gamebreaking skills were not in high demand, as he saw a little over a half of action.
Despite the quiet—by his standards—performance, Foster instead focuses on the offense's overall production: 55 points and 523 total yards.
“As an offense, I think we did great," Foster said. "We have many weapons on this team, and I think that’s a positive for this year. Each week, we need someone to step up. In my eyes, I want to be that guy every week, but we have great talent everywhere. It was just good to see the offense rolling.”
While Foster remains the offense's top weapon in space, Thursday's opener served as a sterling debut for some newcomers to the unit.
Wide receiver Jaelen Strong and tight end De'Marieya Nelson each scored touchdowns, and three other new wide receivers are on the mend and figuring to contribute in the coming weeks. Should they continue to impress, they can help alleviate the pressure on Foster on the outside.
“They are making plays. That was the big thing we needed: Somebody outside to make a play," said Foster. "We need our receivers to step up. They showed last week that they are doing that. They are working hard every day in practice. It’s definitely going to help us in the long run.”
Another member of the offensive attack that can help share the offensive burden is a familiar face working on a new beginning.
Deantre Lewis continued his return from a gunshot wound in early February, and put up 105 yards from scrimmage, including an electrifying 57-yard catch-and-run. Lewis is no stranger to the Badgers, having run for 122 yards on just nine carries during ASU's heartbreaking 20-19 loss in Madison in 2010, and his performance last Thursday was rewarding for Foster to witness.
“It was great. He’s been working his butt off in the offseason," Foster said. "It was good to see the hard work paying off. He deserves everything he gets.”
Now, Foster, Lewis and company face the first true challenge of the season.
The Badgers defense has yet to surrender a point over their two games (granted, those games were against UMass and Tennessee Tech), and their average of just 162.5 yards allowed per game is tops in the nation.
“They are a big, strong, physical team. We have to use our tempo and our athleticism to our advantage," said Foster.
Foster believes that the Sun Devils must be a complete, versatile and mistake-free offense in order to put points on the board.
"We must push the tempo, and we need to run on them," Foster said. "We have to do everything. We have to keep passing the ball. We got to spread it out wide and make them drop back and hopefully that will open up the run.”
But ultimately, the winner of Saturday's game will have the edge in one area.
“Ball security. I think if we come out of the game with no turnovers, we’ll win the game," Foster said. "We must own the ball. Coach Graham preaches it every day.”