After drills Wednesday night at Kajikawa practice field, Coach Bray walked over to the PowerAde stand like he usually does. He glanced across the field and scouted the small pack of reporters until his pupils focused on the one he wanted to recognize least of all. Me.
Bray, who was in a little rush to get home after practices, was nice enough to stop and give me a few words. "Sure, hurry it up though," He said.
Bray paused at my first question, and then replied with a slicing glint in his eyes, "Yes, it was the best assignment football we have played so far," he said. At Stanford the defense took rushing yards from the Trees, and did not allow a single one. Bray said that this is because every player did not make any assignment mistakes and kept their poise the entire game.
"This means that we all did our jobs, and we were always where we were supposed to be," Bray said. "We did not have a lot of assignment errors." Minus two yards is the stat of the week, which is how many rushing yards the Devil defense gave up (or took) from Stanford. Not to mention generating seven sacks.
"It was the best indicator that we are starting to learn the system," Bray said without me even asking him. "If we always do a good job assignment wise then we will always have a chance to win." Chances to win are exactly what Bray's defense is giving the team right now. In the PAC-10's statistical standings ASU's defense is ranked number one in points per game (13), number two in yards per game (278.2), and number two in passing yards (988) and number two in rushing yards (403).
Only USC has better yards per game than the Sun Devils.
Running his defense has never been a problem for Coach Bray, but preparing for other offenses has always been a struggle, he said. "Offenses are what's difficult. And then you have to run the defense against everything the offenses throws at you," He stated.
Bray commented that he was proud of his guys for working within a four man D-Line and putting so much pressure on Stanford's signal caller. After a small amount of confusion during the San Jose State home opener Bray decided to simplify his defense and it seems to be making a huge impact for the Sun Devils. "The D-Line did a great job because we just had a four-man rush," Bray commented. "The stats weren't bad but we had seven sacks too. We are going to miss (Marquardt) a lot but the guys did a good job."
Robert James is a story of his own this season and Bray felt like he didn't need to say much more about him. "I expect him to continue to do his job," Bray said. "Morris is getting better too, so we hope he does well."
James has 50 tackles in five games for the Sun Devils. If he were a player on a fantasy league defense his ten tackles per game would generate some serious points every week. James chuckled when I told him this and exclaimed, "Nothing but the best!"
He then humbled himself right back down to where James is notoriously known for being. "I just go out there and play. Whatever happens, happens," He smiled. "I don't want to put any numbers on myself or anything just in case I don't do it. I just do out there and do it," He added.
James is going to have his hands full according to Bray, who is anticipating a serious match up this weekend in Pullman.
"They are a good football team, the best offensive team we have seen so far," Bray said. "And we better be ready because it's a hard place to play." If Bray has prepared his team like he has done for the past five weeks, we can all be excited for another great Sun Devil defensive effort.
Coach Bray: Great Coach, Few words
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