Herring ASU's Running Back Of The Future

Oct. 6, 2005

No Red HerringTrue freshman RB Keegan Herringstabilizes ASU running gameBy Ron Matejko

As a former two-time state high school sprint champion for Peoria High School, the ASU faithful knew freshman tailback Keegan Herring was fast. What they didn't know was just how quickly the 18-year old would become a vital part of the Sun Devils' offense.

A record-setting performance against Temple in the season opener put to rest any doubts about Herring's ability to pump life into a sluggish running game after rushing for 134 yards on 12 carries. With a blend of 4.2 speed and an unexpected ability for the 5-10, 180-pound to break tackles, Herring broke a 35-year old school record by posting the most prolific debut performance ever for an ASU true freshman running back.

'Keegan Herring has been a huge lift to our football team,' said Dirk Koetter, ASU head football coach. 'His style of running is exactly what we needed.'

'When Keegan gets going and gets holes, he just runs,' said ASU quarterback Sam Keller. 'The kid can bounce off tacklers. It's when I turn around to see what is happening with the play, he's already gone and that's pretty impressive.'

Herring didn't show the same dominance the following week against a tougher LSU defense with only 36 yards on five carries and a key lost red zone fumble. Questions again surfaced about Herring's ability to be the man but they were answered against Northwestern when he rushed for 197 yards on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Unfortunately, he lost two more fumbles but Koetter wrote those off to technique more than an inability to hold on to the ball. Herring attended the post-game press conference cradling a football, seemingly in deference to his fumbles.

'Usually, if you fumble two or three times in a game, especially for a freshman, you get sit down real quick,' Herring said following the Northwestern game. 'So I just thank my coach and my O-line for having faith in me.'

Quarterback Sam Keller has faith in his young tailback as well. A large reason why Keller has enjoyed quick success during his first crack as a starter is because Herring has brought a new respect to the ASU running game. Not being a one-dimensional offense is especially valuable now that the Sun Devils are in their Pac-10 schedule. The passing game reigns supreme in conference games but now defenses will have to honor both aspects of the Sun Devils offense.

'The rushing attack and the passing attack feed off of each other,' Keller said. 'We are going to throw the ball every game. That's no secret, but having the attack to be able to rush the ball opens up our whole playbook.'

If Herring cures his fumbling woes, he has a chance to be one of the top freshman running backs ASU fans have seen in years. Whether he climbs the ladder of success or endures a fall one thing we know is he will get there in a hurry.

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