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ASU’s Foster looking to rebound after UCLA disapointment

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TEMPE – After Arizona State started its season with three straight wins, running back D.J. Foster was among the NCAA rushing leaders at 170 yards per game and a magnet for the hype that comes with success.

But after a 62-27 drubbing by UCLA, in which Foster put up just 30 yards on nine carries and lost a fumble, his only focus is bouncing back strong when the Sun Devils visit 16th-ranked Southern California on Oct. 4.

“I just have to let it go and learn from the mistakes,” he said. “We’ve been in this spot before, like last year, and know what we have to do. We understand we have to travel to their house and bring it.”

Foster, a junior from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, averaged 9.4 yards per carry during his first three games, attracting national media attention leading up the UCLA game. However, Foster’s gaudy stats came against sub-average competition, and a mediocre outing against a primetime opponent cooled the momentum.

He said he doesn’t miss the attention, but remains hungry for the reasons behind it.

“This midseason is when the grind starts. Pac-12 play is tough every week, and we all have to bring it, myself included,” he said. “I just need to keep improving my physicality and fighting for those extra yards.”

The Sun Devils went away from him for the first time this season after giving up three straight touchdowns to UCLA in the second half, forcing backup quarterback Mike Bercovici to attempt a school-record 68 passes to make up for a 17-point deficit. Other than a 20-yard catch-and-run, Foster’s playmaking ability was noticeably absent.

ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell said he will continue to give Foster a heavy workload and expects him to be among the nation’s elite this season.

“I’m looking for D.J. to continue to lead this football team,” he said. “From the first day he’s stepped foot on campus, he’s been an impact, and that role continues to grow as he grows as a player.”

Norvell called Foster the most versatile player he’s ever coached, praising his work ethic and dynamic running in the open field.

“We’ll need him to keep making plays as our schedule gets tougher. He’s extremely important to what we do on offense,” he said.

Three of ASU’s eight remaining games are against ranked opponents, including against USC, Stanford and Notre Dame.

Staying afloat in one of the country’s toughest college football conferences might have some players feeling the pressure, but Foster’s roommate and fellow Sun Devil, junior safety Jordan Simone, said Foster has a creative outlet to keep calm.

“People might not know this about D.J., but he’s a really weird guy,” Simone said. “One night I came downstairs for a late-night snack at like 3 a.m. and he was coloring in the kitchen. He said it helps clear his mind.”

Although Foster’s roommates make fun of his coloring books, they support anything that might make him more effective on the field

“Hey, whatever works. If coloring helps him break tackles then I’m all for it,” Simone said.