Nixon stresses fundamentals

After handling Idaho State 50-3, and Louisiana Monroe 38-14, the Sun Devils now turn their sights to a 2-1 Georgia team that will look to repeat its 2008 performance against ASU where they prevailed over the maroon and gold 27-10.

The Sun Devils looked out matched and slow against one of the SEC's best teams last fall, but the Bulldogs lost two great offensive players to last year's draft in number one overall pick quarterback Matthew Stafford, and fellow first round pick, tailback Knowshon Moreno to the Denver Broncos.

Senior linebacker Mike Nixon leads an Arizona State defense eager to slow the Bulldogs down this time around and escape Athens with a road win.

"We've just got to play fundamentally sound," Nixon stated. "They have such great athletes. The scheme may not be as complex as some of the spread offenses are, but they got athletes that we haven't seen this year. On the outside, their two wideouts are as good as any we'll see all season so our corners and safeties have to do a great job, and we've got to get pressure up front to help them out."

The SEC is a conference known for being a football powerhouse, and boasts plenty of athletic players in the skill positions. Nixon feels that the key to neutralizing Georgia's offense is just playing smart.

"Against maybe some of the teams we've played, if you make a mistake there is somebody to run them down," Nixon admitted. "Teams like this with this speed if you make mistakes they are getting 30 or 40 yards so what we have to do is really concentrate on playing sound football and make the plays when we're in position."

"The whole outside, their running backs, all that, it's a speed level that we haven't seen this year. They've got the freshman, #1, (Branden Smith) they try to get him on the edge and he took a reverse for about 70 yards last week against Arkansas, and once he got in space it was lights out.

"So we have to do a great job of not letting that happen, and you know they moved it up and down on us last year, but we really didn't give up too many huge gains on one play, and if we can do that and execute a little bit better than we did last year, then I think we'll be fine."

Playing smart can often be tough on the road, especially in an environment like the Bulldogs have in Athens, where Sanford Stadium holds upwards of 92,000 screaming fans.

"You just have to go in there as prepared as you can with the game plan in your head so when you get out there you aren't trying to think of a thousand things and really just focus in on what you're comfortable with," Nixon said. "Hopefully you don't let the crowd get in your head."

Another storyline worth noting in this game is the Pac-10/SEC matchup. Teams from the Pac-10 have been playing well this year, and bragging rights are always on the line as to which major conference is the toughest. Therefore, Nixon sees this type of game as a statement not just for ASU.

"It's a big game, us going to the SEC country," Nixon admitted, "and the Pac-10 has been playing well this year and hopefully we can keep up what they've started."

Currently Mike Nixon leads the team in interceptions with three, all of which coming in the season opener against Idaho State, and if the Sun Devils are going to win on Saturday they may need him to make some more big plays whether they are off interceptions or fumbles.

"You know I hope they throw one my way, but if not we get a ‘W' then it's a great day," Nixon said with a smile.

"We put ourselves in good positions this year, we have an ongoing bet with the defensive backs about who's leading in picks and I think we're up 5 to 1 on the corners, so we've got bragging rights until they change it."

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