Q&A: Arizona State's D.J. Foster

Arizona State has to wait an extra week before taking the field, and its players are itching to get out there and start proving that all of the preseason hype surrounding the team is justified. Running back D.J. Foster, who shares the backfield with running back Marion Grice, chatted with the Pac-12 blog about his hopes for 2013 and what it’s like being a tandem with Grice.

You had your first offseason in a college training program. What’s better about D.J. Foster heading into this year?

D.J. Foster: My body has matured a lot. I put on a lot of weight -- healthy weight -- that I needed to be a Division I running back. I’m in a lot better shape and I feel like a more durable back.

What do you still need to improve on before the first game?

DF: Body-wise, I can always improve everything. My quickness, my speed, my strength. That’s always an ongoing process. As a football player, my pass blocking. That’s another challenge I’m trying to step up this year and be more reliable this year and get better at that.

What’s the biggest thing you learned as a freshman that you can apply this season?

DF: It’s a long season. There are a lot of ups and downs. As a freshman, I’m not sure you really understand that. There are so many ups and downs in a 13- or 14-game season. You need to be mature and learn how to maintain your body.

Expectations are a lot higher for you guys this year. Do you feel like the team is prepared for the mental grind it’s going to face?

DF: I think we are. I think that the offseason training we put in, our mindset is good. We feel like we are the strongest team out there. We have put in the work. We know our potential and we know what we can accomplish. It’s all about keeping that mindset and keeping it throughout the whole year.

Is it tough not playing in Week 1?

DF: It is and it isn’t. It has its pros and cons. You get a little extra rest and watch the first games. But you’re eager and you have to time to wait. We’ve been practicing against ourselves and right now we’re pretty hungry to play another opponent.

You never want to look past your opponent (FCS Sacramento State), but at the same time, after that game you have four straight against Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame with no break in between. That might be the toughest four-game stretch in college football this year. Have you guys started thinking about that all, even a little bit?

DF: We think about it every day. We can’t look past Sac. State, but we know those first five games are going to be a grind. That’s what we’ve been working toward for Day 1. We’re putting in the extra work conditioning. We call it “echo” when we go into the next drill without taking a break. We’ve been preparing ourselves because we know it’s going to be a grind.

What’s the best part of being a tandem along with Marion Grice?

DF: It’s great. I love watching him run. We have two different styles and we really play off of each other. I know what kind of player he is and I’m working hard to reach my potential. I’m honored to be in the backfield with him and be called one of the best duos in the nation.

And yet running backs by nature want the ball. They want to be 25- or 30-carries a game guys. How do you suppress that urge to want the ball every down?

DF: It’s a team sport at the end of the day. The way our offense is, I’m blessed to be able to move around in the slot and get receiving yards as well. It’s a great offense to be a part of. As long as the ball is moving and we’re excelling, there are no problems with how many times I touch the ball.

Now that you and Taylor Kelly, and Chris Coyle and the offensive line have all had a year in this system under coach Mike Norvell, what can we expect from you guys in Year 2?

DF: Everything, but better. I see a lot more consistency and maturity. We made a lot of mistakes last year. One thing we’ve been preaching is turnovers. That’s something we have to eliminate if we want to go as far as we want to go. Less mistakes.

Finish this sentence for me: In 2013, Arizona State will be …

DF: In 2013, Arizona State will be Rose Bowl champions.