Nevada Game Hits Home for Barrett

Junior Josh Barrett won't even try to deny that he has circled this week's game for quite a while. The safety, who hails from Reno, Nev., will meet his hometown college team this week at Sun Devil stadium. Barrett will obviously have extra motivation for this contest, and feels like this familiar opponent will be a formidable challenge for the maroon and gold.

"I've definitely known about this game for a while," said the 6-2 227 Josh Barrett. "I know a lot of guys on their team and it's gonna be exciting. They're gonna come in and play really hard and we have to step our game up."

The Wolfpack heavily recruited Barrett, who was one of the top high school players in Reno, and offered him a scholarship before Arizona State and other schools did. "At that time (current Nevada Head Coach) Coach Ault wasn't coaching there," he recalled, "and I have tremendous respect for him. He's a legend around town. Back then Nevada was definitely not the program it is now. Coach Ault turned things around there, and the team reflects his hard working personality."

On the trash talking front, the safety commented that there hasn't been really any exchange of words thus far with his family or friends back in Reno, nor with the several Wolfpack players he grew up with. "We'll have plenty of time on the field for that," he said.

Barrett has known his share of bad luck with shoulder injuries, which have caused him to spend more time on the sidelines, than between the lines during his ASU career. Even though he's a redshirt junior, last spring practice marked his first ever 15-practice session he participated in. He injured his shoulder in the first contest of his true freshman season in 2003, and ended up redshirting that season. He collected a modest 17 total tackles the next season, and came out of the gates slowly in 2005 due to his condition. He did however finish that campaign on a very strong note. He started the last two games of the season against Arizona and Rutgers in the Insight Bowl, and finished 7th overall on defense with 37 total tackles.

Expectations were sky high for him in 2006. He was naturally disappointed with his production in the season opener, where he notched just one tackle. Then again, there were some mitigating circumstances that impacted that output. "I wish I would have been in more plays and been more active," admitted Barrett. "I had two chances to make tackles and missed on both of them. I have to come back and work hard this week. But the defensive line and linebackers played great and they handled much of the run game and short passing game. But the opportunities I had – I have to convert."

Barrett played much of the game last week at nickel back, due to the offensive formations presented by NAU. "It did limit me a little bit because there were some plays where I was in man-coverage," he remarked. "So I had that responsibility first before I could come and support the run. I do like to play the nickel. It's something new to me and it helps the team. With more guys hopefully coming back this week I'll have more opportunity to play the high safety position again."

The safety obviously watched with great interest Nevada's game against Fresno State, where the Wolfpack fell 28-19 on the road. His observations indicate that the challenge for the maroon and gold defense will much greater this week. "Nevada is definitely gonna try and run the ball and also pass the ball a lot because their quarterback has a great arm," said Barrett. "He's a scrambler and can make great throws. This week is gonna be different, and we're (the safeties) gonna have more opportunity to make plays and face a more traditional offense. Their running backs run downhill and their offensive line is tremendously better (than NAU). Guys are gonna have a harder time getting off blocks and making plays. So I see a lot of opportunity for safeties to make plays, and that's gonna be us this week."

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