(Photo: ASU Athletics)
They say everything is bigger in Texas. For Arizona State senior running back Marion Grice and freshman kicker Zane Gonzales, the expectations are certainly bigger, as they travel with the rest of the No. 22 Sun Devils to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX on Saturday.
The last time the Sun Devils went down to Texas was on Dec. 31, 2004 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso where they won 27-23 against the Purdue Boilermakers.
However, playing in the great state of Texas under bright lights isn’t unfamiliar territory for Grice and Gonzales.
Grice, a transfer from Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas, is making a name for himself in college football with 12 touchdowns on the season thus far; four of those were posted in last week’s game against USC.
Grice started his career at Houston Nimitz High School, where he averaged 6.5 yards per carry. His high school accolades earned him a scholarship from Blinn, where he accumulated 2,221 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.
“My homecoming in high school, my mother came to watch me play and I had a kickoff return to win the game. That was my favorite moment,” Grice stated, reflecting on his high school career.
It’s of importance to Grice that he’ll be playing in front of his family and friends on the biggest stage in Texas. It seems fitting that ASU’s leading scorer will be able to perform in Cowboys Stadium against the Notre Dame defense that allows 4.03 yards per carry.
“It’s a great opportunity to get the chance to play in front of my family. I have like 25 people coming for me.”
Grice is setting his sights on Notre Dame, where he plans on speeding up the tempo in order to execute successfully, which has been effective in the past.
“We just have to come out and be fast.” Grice said, “Tempo, tempo, tempo.”
Gonzales, a true freshman from Deer Park, TX is looking comfortable as a college kicker. Although he’s going from perfection his senior year in high school (on both field goals and extra points) to his current 66.7 field goal percentage, he has been a great asset for the Sun Devils’ explosive offense to have.
“I’ve got a little bit of OCD. So I’ve got to squeeze my head through my helmet on a couple of times. I just close my eyes and imagine it going in, that’s how I kind of mentally get ready for my kicks.”
“I’ve got to get ready to make sure I can perform to my best ability. I’m excited,” said Gonzales when asked about the upcoming game in Cowboy’s Stadium.
With a big crowd of family and friends making the four-hour road trip, his confidence is high coming off a flawless performance against USC.
Both Grice and Gonzales have played in Reliant Stadium in Houston, but it’s their first time playing in Jerry World and this time, they get to do it on national TV. Despite their excitement and hype, though, the Sun Devils must stay composed and disciplined.
“It’s just another team,” Grice said. “Another game on the schedule.”