Nixon on the Spot

Junior linebacker Mike Nixon intercepted yet another, pass on Saturday, his fourth of the season, and helped the Arizona State Sun Devils shutout the Washington State Cougars, 31-0.

"It was great," exclaimed Nixon on teh shutout. "I think we were told in the locker room that it has been about twelve years here at Arizona State (since the team's last shutout). I know in the past couple years we had a couple chances that were pretty close but we gave it up late."

"To play a full sixty minutes defensively is awesome. The offense helps us with just running the ball late in the fourth quarter even though they didn't punch it in it takes six seven minutes off the clock and really helps us out."

The junior also gave kudos the reserves on their performance.

"To have trust in the depth of the defense where the second team can come in and keep doing what the first team is doing," stated Nixon, "is something we need now and in the future."

The win was the Sun Devils' second consecutive victory and the team's first home win since beating Stanford back in the second week of September. This game also signified a sweep over the Washington schools.

After suffering through a disastrous six-game losing streak the Sun Devils are starting to show some life and. The team could still reach a bowl game if they win out. But a potential post-season contest is not the only team keeping the team and the defense motivated.

"Pride, first and foremost," explained Nixon. "We got kicked when we were down quite a bit during that stretch. We knew it was going to be a tough stretch of the season but we never imagined it was going to be that tough on us."

"We still have a chance, if we win out, to finish and go to a bowl game and win that and be 7-6 and if we come out 7-6 after being 2-6 that's a really good thing for the team going forward."

Although the final score was lopsided the game was not totally dominated by the Devils the entire time. It was around when Mike Nixon intercepted a pass in the second half close to midfield that the game really turned in the Sun Devils favor.

"The first two interceptions were just on screen passes and I was able to read them," said Nixon. "But this week Coach Bray just harped getting under that deep receiver and the quarterback kind of stared it down and I was able to read his eyes and when they get a little locked up they throw it right to you."

Nixon admitted that he had a good mentor to learn from this past season.

"I think I've been fairly assignment sound," commented Nixon. "Being in the WILL position in this defense, you saw what Robert James did last year, they put you in positions where if you're in the right spot you're going to make plays. I've just tried to be sound, let the plays come to me and when they have just make them."

In addition to Nixon's great game, junior defensive end Dexter Davis had another phenomenal performance. The scrappy defensive end has been a terror for offensive lines to deal with all year and recorded two more sacks in Saturday's game, bringing his total up to nine in 2008.

"That's the best pass coverage there is (pressure from the defensive line)," explained Nixon. "If you're getting pressure with those front four and don't have to blitz and we can drop seven. Dexter, Luis (Vasquez), all those guys up the middle do a great job, especially Dexter off that edge."

"He had two more sacks tonight and any time you get that especially on big second downs, big third downs, get us off the field it helps us rest, gets the offense better field position and makes our job easy."

The other game changing performance for the defense came on a fourth down. Vasquez flushed quarterback J.T. Levenseller out of the pocket and forced a fumble which was eventually recovered and returned for a touchdown by freshman defensive tackle Lawrence Guy.

"I was back in coverage. (Travis) Goethel just came flying in trying to recover it and he's just out of control and I think he actually tipped the ball back in because he realized he wasn't going to be able to scoop it," Joked Nixon. "Lawrence (Guy) did a great job of just scooping and scoring."


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