Coach Bray Strives for Perfection

Fans may be delighted with the way the ASU defense is playing this season, but Defensive Coordinator Craig Bray feels that there's much more this unit can improve on. After Wednesday's practice he shared his thoughts about the win against Colorado and the upcoming game against San Diego State.

Arizona State's defense has only given up one touchdown in its first two games of the season. So how does Coach Bray feel about that? "I'm disappointed," Bray said Wednesday night. "The touchdown we gave up was a very easy route that we had practiced every day."

Coach Bray asks nothing less than perfection from his players on a daily basis but in his eyes that touchdown was a real glitch in the system. "We lost our focus. All those long completions were a lack of focus. They were simple easy routes that we had worked on since before camp, since last spring," Bray commented.

Bray seems to credit the poor first quarter of the game entirely to the offense even though he admits to having breaks in defensive coverage. He credits his guys for stepping up and keeping the team in the game during this turbulent time. "That's the time we were most critical was when we had all the penalties, when had all the kicking mistakes, to be able to play defense and keep us in the ball game," Bray said.

One thing he could be talking about is the interception for a touchdown by Troy Nolan which was undoubtedly was the turning point in the game. "It was Robert James that really caused it," Bray said. "Then Nolan was right where he needed to be." It doesn't take a defensive coach to understand the implications of that play for the Sun Devils but Coach Bray put it nicely. "That was huge in the turnaround of the game because it created a momentum that we kept for quite some time on both sides of the ball. I think it gave us a team boost because from that point on the offense got going, started scoring points and got us a good lead."

Even after that interception for a score by Nolan Colorado still attacked the corners and tried to stretch the defense. "We thought we opened up a Pandora's Box a little bit from our performance against San Jose State," said Bray about the secondary. "I told you that we had had coverage mistakes and both the safeties and the corners are responsible for that. So we felt that Colorado was going to go downtown," he added.

"There's great competition there. They are both playing really good. They are kind of splitting time. There is good competition at safety. We are going to have the opportunity to see Rodney Cox and Jeremy Payton play a little more because our safety position hasn't been as good as we want it."

Perceptive ASU fans would have noticed that middle linebackers Gerald Munns and Morris Wooten have been frequently rotating. "There is great competition there," Bray said about the two players. He added that they are both playing very well.

SDSU's Quarterback Kevin O'Connell will be ASU's greatest offensive foe yet. His mobility and spread offensive scheme is going to add extra pressure on the run defense, according to Bray. "The quarterback is probably the most athletic guy that we have seen by far; probably one of the more athletic guys that we will see all year," Bray remarked. Against Washington State O'Connell threw for 273 yards and one touchdown even though the Aztecs lost the game.

"Sure it scares me," Bray said. "It scares the (heck) out of me."

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