Sun Devils Eyeing Wisconsin

Two weeks into the season and still no one is sure how the Arizona State football squad will fare this season. After rather lackluster performances against two FCS teams, the Sun Devils will fly up north to Wisconsin to take on Bucky and the Badgers.

After having Monday off, Dennis Erickson led his team back out to the practice field to start preparations for what could be the Sun Devils' biggest challenge all year.

"(Practice) was good," commented Erickson, "There is a lot of attention. This a little different than the first two weeks as far as preparation and who we're going to play. We'll find out where we're at. It was good out there, lot of learning. Tuesday is always a real learning day just because of new stuff. You make some mistakes but that's how it is on Tuesday. We'll be better tomorrow."

The maroon and gold are going to need massive leaps in consistency in a number of areas from penalties to dropped balls if they want to compete with the Badgers. Wisconsin is ranked number 11 nationally, boasts an impressive offensive line and one of the hardest runners in the country, John Clay.

In only two games this year Clay has racked up 260 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Last year, the 255 pound running back amassed over 1,500 yards and put the ball in the end zone 18 times. If the Sun Devils want to prove they have a primetime defense, this is their week.

Coach Erickson acknowledged the challenge that is in front of his team.

"We won't know until we pay them. I think we're fine," Observed Erickson. "We're getting some guys back. Saia (Falahola) is healthy and Toa (Tuitea) is back. You don't know about things like (stopping the running game) until you actually play because we haven't seen it the first two weeks. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us. All those (running backs) are back. We haven't seen (that level of a running game) really since I've been here. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us but we're excited. "

Despite the difficult test, both Erickson and his players are naturally geared up for the trip.

"It's going to be great," Erickson said. "It's going to be real interesting for our players and I've talked to them about that. We get to go play in the Big 10 in front of 80,000 people. It will be a tremendous experience for us."

"It'll be intense there," junior quarterback Steven Threet added. "There will be an 80,000 sell out and we're excited to be in that type of environment."

Threet actually played against Wisconsin when he was the quarterback for Michigan in 2008. It was a game in which Threet completed only 38 percent of his passes but was able to orchestrate a comeback win after being down 19-0 at half time. Threet had a run of nearly 60 yards to help set up the Wolverines' victory. It's a game the signal caller remembers well.

"I remember basically every game, so I remember all of it," Threet recalled. "It was a tough game and they played really well. We were able to come back and get the win in the second half. There are some of the same guys and I've played against Wisconsin before. There are a lot of different guys running a different offense though."

Coach Erickson knows how much this game could potentially mean to the Sun Devils. ASU hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since defeating Cal at Sun Devil Stadium in 2007.

"It's always nice to get a win on the road against a top team," Erickson acknowledged. "We have ten football games left, 11 hopefully, and it just happens to be on the road against a great football team. It's a great challenge for us and we're going to go in there and compete like heck and see what happens."

Threet is focused on keeping with the new offense and trying to let the Sun Devils play as uninhibited as possible.

"We always want to play fast and that's our goal again this week, to play fast and get the play off quickly," noted Threet. "There's going to be ups and downs in every football game. It's just staying level headed, cool, calm and playing hard."


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