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Beavers seek to contain D.J. Foster

CORVALLIS — Chances are, when the ball leaves the hands of Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly’s hands during Saturday night’s game at Oregon State, it will wind up with D.J. Foster.

Foster, a junior running back, is a focal point in ASU’s offense on run and pass plays.

Foster leads the Sun Devils with 821 yards on 141 carries and six touchdowns and is second on the team in receiving with 39 catches for 462 yards and two scores.

He’s even completed a pass, although the play lost three yards.

“Just right off the bat, I’m going to classify him as an athlete,” OSU defensive tackle Jalen Grimble said. “He’s no longer a running back.

“The things he does for that team is, I think, more versatile than any player in the country.”

If you need Foster to just pound away at a defense, he has the power and speed.

In ASU’s 55-31 win over Notre Dame last week, the relentless grinding by Foster in the run game wore down the Fighting Irish.

He finished with 120 yards on 21 carries.

“I set the DVR in my house recording the Notre Dame game and I watched it on Sunday,” Grimble said. “And if anybody goes back and watches that game, they’ll understand what that whole offense and what he’s about.”

If you need Foster to catch the ball, he has the hands and agility.

He had five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in a win over USC.

When the Sun Devils took on Stanford’s stubborn defense, they needed an all-around game from Foster.

He came through with 59 yards and a touchdown on the ground and seven catches for 92 yards.

“It seems like he gets the ball in any number of ways. Obviously a great runner,” OSU quarterback Sean Mannion said.

“I think when you have a back that can do that many different things, whether it’s running routes, running the ball up the middle, off to side, it’s a very interesting weapon for a team to have.”

OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker said the Sun Devils are adept at moving Foster around in their offense.

“(When) he’s in the backfield, he motions to the perimeter. He’s on the perimeter and he motions to the backfield,” Banker said.

“So obviously, our awareness and our cover-down are critical. Then once the play starts, it’s just a football play. You’ve got to read run or pass and then go make plays.”

Grimble said the key is to keep Foster from breaking big plays or doing consistent damage.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to contain him. If we can get him under wraps, I think we can get their offense under wraps,” Grimble said. “It starts with him. They’ve got a quarterback that can move, too, and they’ve got Jaelen Strong that can catch and they’ve got an offensive line.

“This will be by far the best team we’ve faced all year.”