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January 19, 2012Mike Norvell is going to be new head coach Todd Graham's offensive coordinator and play caller for Arizona State. Here's an interview ASUDevils.com conducted with Norvell this week.
ASUDevils.com: Let's first talk about your offensive philosophy and style as the offensive coordinator. How would you describe what you'll be implementing at ASU?
Mike Norvell: We're primarily a two back base formation offense, two guys in the backfield most often (excluding the quarterback). We are going to be a fast break deal, fast break attack. We are looking to really push the tempo. We are going to be multiple with our formations and have different looks in terms of what we present. Obviously we are looking to run our base schemes with as much of different formation presentations (as possible) and do it at a fast pace.
ASUDevils.com: From what coach (Todd) Graham has said, you're going to be running a lot of power (run game) and things of that nature and use that to open up a lot of play action. And like you said at faster tempo, so almost like a Stanford or Wisconsin, but with more H-back usage with a faster tempo?
Norvell: Yeah we are going to utilize, you're going see me run zone mixed in with a little bit of power. We will have some more direct, downhill runs. And obviously that will open up a lot of things in the play action pass game. We are gonna utilize a H-back personnel body, a guy who can play a lot of positions. So that is something we definitely look to recruit, and we feel like we have a couple guys here on campus that fit that role already, and I'm excited to get out there and get those guys to work.
ASUDevils.com: You guys did a good job as far as being active with the mid-year signings in a short time period. Are you guys able to talk about the mid-year signing guys or not yet?
Norvell: Yeah, I can talk about them. Well, I can talk about Darwin Rogers, a guy we brought in who is a big (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) h-back athletic type guy. A guy that has only been playing that position for a year. He signed with Illinois as a quarterback coming out of high school. And then he got down to Arizona Western and they put him at tight end, h-back and did a lot of things that are quite similar to what we are gonna ask him to do here. He has a lot of potential. A really quality young man and I am looking forward to seeing him out there. I can't really talk about any of the other guys at this time right now. We are getting a guy that fits into like a Christopher Coyle role, with a tight body, that is the guy coming in and watching film and that I am excited about, and his role and what we are gonna ask him to do.
ASUDevils.com: Now when you look at your personnel and what you have to work with, how do the bodies and the number of bodies fit in as far as what you guys are trying to do, as far as the transition.
Norvell: Well we feel very good about the guys we have in place and obviously we are still going go out and recruit the top notch players each and every year and bring in the guys that will help add a dynamic element to this offense. We are going ask guys to do things to try to get the ball and make plays and that is part of being a dynamic playmaker. We feel like we have the guys on campus right now that can go out there and be able to execute our offense. And like I said I am looking forward to getting started with it.
ASUDevils.com You have been with Coach Graham for a number of years now. You guys have had some tremendous success offensively, obviously at Tulsa most prominently. What do you think has enabled that to be the case?
Norvell: Yeah well one thing I think is the balance of our offense. We are going to be an offense that takes what the defense gives us. We are going to try to dictate the tempo each game. I think when you look at our offense, if you're an offensive linemen or one of our skill players there is not going to be a better offense to be able to play in, because of the variety of things you're going to be asked to do. Our goal is to run 80-plus snaps a game, so if you are a skill player that means there is more touches, more opportunities to get the ball in your hands and more people that can contribute to our success. And your offensive linemen, I am going to ask you to be a downhill run blocker but also be able to do a variety of different things such as protection. It is really a balance attack. When you go into games, we have had games that we have thrown for 500 yards and rushed for 150, and and we have also had games where we have run for 450 and only thrown for 180. We are really gonna be able to take what the defense gives us. We are going to try to be very balanced but the thing that hopefully sets us apart is the tempo in which we are able to do things.
ASUDevils.com: Coach Graham has an great track record of finding young coordinators or undiscovered young coaches. What do you think, has allowed that to be the case? What is it about him that allows him to find these guys?
Norvell: Well obviously Coach Graham does his research. Every person he agrees to be apart of his staff he does his research on. He knows his vision and knows what he wants to do. He will say it, he will outline the framework of what he wants to see and what he wants the offense to be all about and he gets very involved in each aspect of what we are doing. He sets the vision and we have had some great coaches that have been a part of our staff and he is the guy you want to work for. He is the guy that will inspire you every single day to be the best that you can be and be; the coach that really pushes you to make sure you accomplish all the things we set out to do and to get to every goal that we set at the beginning of the year.
ASUDevils.com: I talked to Coach Randolph last week, and doing my homework on you guys as a staff and a lot of the words used are: disciplined, enthusiastic, determined, aggressive, demanding. How do you feel the players have responded to what you have asked of them them thus far?
Norvell: They have done really well. And one word that would describe our coaching staff and what we want for our football team is passion. We come in, you know Coach Graham is passionate about everything he done. He is going to take the vision of what we want and what we want done and I know if you would talk to him he would say he looks for guys with great character. Guys that are smart football players and with those two thing you can establish a discipline. We are passionate about everything we do. It doesn't matter if it is spring practice, it doesn't matter if it is recruiting, it doesn't matter if it is when you walk out for the first game, we are going to do it with great passion and energy and we want our guys to be a reflection of that; to truly enjoy this game that we play and you've got to go out there and give it your all and do it and play with a great passion in every single play. Our guys are excited. We had an offensive meeting there at the beginning, going through the academics and everything we start off with, and those guys are eager. They're sitting at the edge of their seats, they want it. You can tell they are hungry. We are establishing the guidelines for what it is going to take to get there and they're responding really well.
ASUDevils.com: Having done this for a number of years, what do you think makes a really good recruiter and a really good recruiting staff?
Norvell: Passionate guys. You have to love to recruit you have to love to get to know young people and that is why I do it. I enjoy doing it, I like going and sitting down and looking at a high school senior in the eye and seeing and learning about them and what they are looking for. And it's just being able to echo what our program is going to be all about. We go out there and we are not just trying to look at a highlight film and offer a kid just off that. We want to get to know him and what the kid is all about. We want guys to come in and be overachievers. I don't care if you are a four star or five star athlete we want you to overachieve for what you have to work with. It takes time to get to know kids, it takes time to see what makes them tick. And kids can see if you are passionate about what program is all about, passionate about what you are selling and using that word. But they can see it. If they get that feel or get that energy about how we present our program then that is something they want to be a part of. But we have a great group of guys and we have a great staff. I am excited to be able to go on the road with these guys and bring in the best players and the best people we can here at ASU.
ASUDevils.com: What are your thoughts about Arizona State as a job? Now that you have had the chance to kinda familiarize yourself with the school a little bit better and the program.
Norvell: I love it. I am so excited to be here. Every day it has been a joy, just to live here and be a part of this community, and be a part of a program that wants to excel at the highest level. If you go to a lot of places in the country they just want to just excel at football but when you look at academics, you look in regards to the type of young men that we want to put out there on the field, it is a place where we can be as successful as we want to be, the sky is the limit. It's fun to work at a place like that. It has been a fast transition, you know I have been in and out of a hotel a little bit, I have been on the road recruiting, I've been doing a lot of different things but man it is a great opportunity and a great place to be.