Bray prepares for Badgers' ground attack

The Sun Devils' first road trip of the 2010 season is also the first formidable opponent the maroon and gold will face this year. Defensive coordinator Craig Bray and his staff have been scheming for the strong Badger running game and he indicated that he feels good about how his unit preformed this week in practice regarding this particular aspect.

"We tried to get as many people around the box as we can," Bray commented. "It's been a really good week at practice so we'll see but we made some personnel changes, we're playing two strong (defensive) ends instead of one. We're starting to get some guys healthy so we just worked their schemes."

Head Coach Dennis Erickson has compared the Badgers offense to that of Stanford's. Although the University of Wisconsin lacks a player like last years Heisman runner-up, Toby Gerhart, their strength is just the same.

"Very similar," Bray said. "They're big, they're physical, and they're extremely well coached. They don't have a Gerhart but they have a couple of big guys that run pretty well. But yes, there are some similarities."

Bray knows that despite the tall task his group has with Wisconsin's running game that his unit needed to be certain not to overlook the Badgers' passing game.

"That's the tough part because they (the ASU defense) have to read their keys," Bray noted. "If they're biting on running, it's passing and we've got problems. This kind of offense makes you vanilla because you can't do a lot of different pressures because of the things that they do.

"So you have to play a lot of base and you have to get guys quick to the line. If they throw the ball, you better see what's going on up front so we don't want to get caught going that way when we ought to go that way."

The maroon and gold defensive line has been struggling since fall camp to regain their depth after losing several players due to injuries, which has resulted in the shifting of some players. Defensive ends, James Brooks and Jamaar Jarrett aren't battling each other this week but rather both playing on either side of the line in order to combat Wisconsin's massive offensive linemen.

"It's two more powerful guys," Bray said of that tactic. "Our defensive scheme is for more wide open attacks so we have to rush in, which a smaller lighter guy doesn't hold up well against a 350-pound one. Then they have two tight ends that are 250 or better so we still have to play them because we don't have enough guys but we'll start with those two guys and rotate the other ones in."

The injuries plaguing the Arizona State defense have called for the more frequent rotation of players. Without the ideal depth on the defensive line, Coach Bray and his unit will strive to keep the Wisconsin offense off the field as much as possible.

"The best thing that helps a rotation is getting a lot of three and outs," Bray admitted. "Then everything is good. We'll have to roll guys around if they get any drives going, we'll have to roll bodies in there. We'll have some guys that may not be as good as the guys we take out but fresh they will be. So we'll just have to roll them around. "

One significant addition to the Sun Devils' front four is defensive tackle Corey Adams. On Wednesday the sophomore practiced fully for the first time since undergoing his meniscus surgery in late August. As it appears now, he should be healthy enough to play in Saturday's matchup.

"I hope so," Bray commented about Adams playing. "That's really up to Corey. I think he is healthy enough medically but is he healthy enough here (in his mind), that's the key."

Bray believes that the swiftness of the ASU linebackers is something that could potentially provide an advantage for the entire defense, as long as they are able to execute their game plan.

"We will utilize our speed," Bray commented. "The biggest thing we want to do is get them running laterally. If they run laterally then our speed comes into play. If they're able to down hill then speed doesn't matter because they're gassing you anyways. We're working real hard on making everything bounce and hopefully plug up everything inside and get them running laterally and we'll be fine."

The running game is not only threat that the Badgers pose. Wisconsin quarterback, Scott Tolzien, has the skill and aerial targets to execute an effective passing offense, even if the Sun Devils are able to successfully shut down the Badger ground attack.

"Their quarterback is a good player," Bray acknowledged. "Everybody underrates him but he is a very accurate and very efficient thrower. They have better than average wide outs, they're not overly special but they're good and solid. The tight ends can play. Their last one just got drafted and they've got the young kid, no. 84 (Lance Kendricks), he is a really good player and very fast too, we're not used to tight ends that run like that.

"They're not extremely fast, they're just efficient at what they do. They're going to line up two tights with two backs and they're going to run a lot of power and a lot of lead and they're going to line up in 12-personell, which is two tight ends. They're going to run a lot of split zone and they're going to play action pass. They're going to throw the ball a little bit; they're about 50-50 and 12. When they get in the big sets, they stay running pretty much."

While the ASU defense hasn't underperformed in this young 2010 season, it hasn't exactly played at the high level that both the coaches and fans alike expected them to play at. They are ranked in the middle of the conference in total defense allowing 250 yards and 14.5 points per game.

"We're not near as good as we need to be," Bray said of the ASU defense. "I think we've underachieved for whatever reason so this will be a good mark for us. We've acted bored, and you don't act like that if you're trying to be a good defense. I don't know what it is."

Going up against the no. 11 ranked team, at their home stadium is obviously a great challenge to prepare for but there are a few key factors that will play into any success of the Sun Devil defense may have on Saturday.

"Just being physical, reading your keys, seeing what you've got to see to get where you've got to get," Bray explained. "We have a lot of reads where we're bringing safeties into the box; we even bring corners into the box based on certain things. It's really, being extremely physical, read your keys and run through and play."

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