Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 10/6/11
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cameron Marshall wasnt thinking about him, but maybe a certain NFL legend was lurking somewhere in the Arizona State juniors subconscious. Walter Payton is my favorite running back, he admitted. With the Sun Devils leading Oregon State 21-20 midway through the third quarter on Saturday, Marshall decided to pay homage by channeling some vintage Sweetness. Upon taking the handoff, he found a wide hole created by left guard Mike Marcisz, center Koedy Kobensky and right guard Andrew Sampson. First, he barreled over a linebacker and out of the shoe-top tackle of defensive tackle Castro Masaniai. Then he ran over safety Anthony Watkins, broke the tackle of linebacker Cameron Collins and outraced cornerback Rashaad Reynolds to the end zone. After I spun off the first guy, I thought, 'Just keep moving your feet, Marshall said. Then, when I ran somebody else over, I started thinking, 'Man, I gotta get to the end zone on this one. It would pretty cool to score. It was the second highlight-reel touchdown Marshall has produced in as many weeks, following his 70-yard run against USC. This one had a lasting effect on his teammates. We were having a little bit of trouble running the ball, then he breaks that run, Marcisz said. When you see Cameron blowing through guys, it gets us fired up. When we know hes back there giving 100 percent, were going to give him our best. Big plays were expected from Marshall this season. The Sun Devils entire offensive line returned, and Marshall had already established his potential by rushing for 787 yards on 150 carries (5.2 yard average) in 2010. What makes Marshalls recent success remarkable is the fact that hes been playing on a bum ankle the entire season -- an injury whose healing hasnt gone in the straight line the team had hoped. It comes and it goes, he said. Sometimes one things feeling good and something else is hurting, but playing running back is just a tough position, because its just really physically demanding. I dont think any running back in the country feels good at this point in the season. All I know is my bodys feeling better this week. Thats how I gauge it. When asked how healthy he is, Marshall smiled. Healthy enough, he said. With the offensive line likely minus two starters -- center Garth Gerhart and left tackle Evan Finkenberg -- due to injuries, Marshalls effectiveness is all the more vital heading into Saturdays critical game at Utah. Were a different team when hes back there, coach Dennis Erickson said of Marshall. The Utes defense is ranked second in the Pac-12 in points allowed and figures to bring some pressure against ASUs reshuffled line. A simple game plan that features Marshall and short passes could help the Devils keep them at bay and grab control of the Pac-12 South. We know how big it is for the division standings and our whole season, Marshall said. Ive been here three years and I havent gone to a bowl game. I didnt even win a championship in high school, so I just want to play in the postseason. Marshall wont let anything stand in his way. Not even his own teammates. There was a time in the USC game when he ran me over to get a touchdown, Marcisz said. It was awesome.
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