Arizona State running back Marion Grice is the catalyst of the best red-zone offense in the Pac-12, but Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham struggled to find a natural comparison for the senior in a recent conversation with offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.
"He doesn't really remind us of anybody. He is really unique, and I think that is the thing that makes him a special back, that he wants to get in the end zone and has a special knack for getting into that end zone," Graham said Tuesday on the Pac-12 teleconference.
How about LaDainian Tomlinson? There is the same dominance inside the 20-yard line -- Grice has an FBS-high 31 carries in the red zone this season, resulting in 11 rushing touchdowns to tie for the national lead. There is the same versatility in the passing game -- Grice has four red-zone touchdown receptions.
Not surprisingly, given his efficiency, Grice is averaging 15.4 points per game, best in college football. And thanks largely to the 6-foot, 207-pound senior, ASU has scored touchdowns on 26 of 43 trips inside the red zone.
Grice's elusiveness is magnified by the ASU spread offense, allowing a player that Graham says "has a knack for sliding" to be even more dangerous.
"Man, what is it about him? We can't put our finger on it," Graham said. "He never takes a direct hit. He just kind of slides and he is kind of a glider."
Those attributes will make Grice that much more valuable in the NFL, where the top 10 teams in scoring touchdowns in the red zone this season have a combined record of 46-29. Only the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins are in that group and have records below .500.