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October 26, 2011When asked Tuesday if he'd soon be again leaping over hapless defenders in open field, Cameron Marshall laughed and said, "I don't know, we'll have to see."
Marshall hurdled USC cornerback Torin Harris at the Los Angeles Coliseum last year but hasn't shown comparable explosiveness out of the backfield this season due to an ankle sprain that's been a hindrance since the first week of fall camp.
"Obviously I would have liked to have been health but that's just what I was dealt this year," Marshall said Tuesday. "I was banged up early and just had to find a way to get through it.
"I keep my spirits high. I don't like to dwell on things I can't control. I just do my rehab and everything it takes to get better and outside of that it's out of my hands."
During Arizona State's bye week, the junior from San Jose, Calif., spent a majority of his practice time on the conditioning bike in an effort to rest up.
"It helped quite a bit," Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson said in Monday's press conference. "In watching him practice [Sunday] we got a chance to see. He moved around better than he has all year Rest really helped him. It helped a lot of guys. We have some guys that haven't missed games but were beat up with shoulders or ankles or whatever and that period of time really made a difference. With Cameron, you could really see a significant difference with what he did yesterday."
A day later, after working fully dressed out with the first-team, Marshall agreed that progress has been made.
"Especially after today's practice, I got to run around a little bit more in full pads," he said. "I felt a lot better. I feel like I'm getting back to how I was coming into camp so promising to see."
A workhorse back who is fourth in the Pac-12 in total carries and seventh in yards per game, Marshall has 522 rushing yards on 112 carries through seven games, even though it's at a career-low but nonetheless respectable 4.2 yard-per-carry average.
"Cam's a warrior," running backs coach Bryce Erickson said recently. "He hasn't been at full strength all year but he never complains or uses it as an excuse. He has the same approach every day and that's the kind of thing a lot of guys can learn from. He's not the most talkative guy but his leadership is by example and sometimes that's even better. He just comes out and gives you the best he's got."
With five regular seasons remaining as well as a likely Pac-12 Championship game berth and bowl appearance, Marshall still has half of a schedule left and an opportunity to reach the 1,000 yard plateau. He's well on his way to eclipsing his mark from last season, when he totaled 787 yards on 150 carries.
With a Pac-12-best nine rushing touchdowns to this point in the season, Marshall is also moving up the ASU all-time list. He currently is tied with Keegan Herring for 10th in the category, but is just five touchdowns removed from a tie for the Top-5 spot with Art Malone.
At Marshall's current pace, it seems plausible he'll eventually challenge for the all-time school record as a senior. The mark is currently held by Woody Green, who had 39 rushing touchdowns for ASU between 1971-73.
But Marshall's a long way from even thinking about that. Even with 30-point underdog coming into Sun Devil Stadium Saturday, Marshall is only focused on the game ahead.
"Coach [Erickson] wants us to be focused for the five game stretch but he always says every week in our team meetings, one game at a time, don't take any team for granted because that's how teams get caught up and play bad and lose games they shouldn't lose," Marshall said. "So he just says take it one game at a time and we'll worry about whoever is next when they come up."