Nixon, defense look to regain old form

Two devastating losses back to back can take a toll on any team. Most recently defeated by Oregon State, the Sun Devils can only look inward for the source of the multitude of errors on both sides of the ball. The typically strong defense had a solid first three games of the season yet found themselves taking a huge step backwards this weekend against the Beavers according to LB Mike Nixon.

"You never want to take three steps forward and one step back," said senior linebacker Mike Nixon. "It felt like we took a big one backwards but we still have a chance for a great season. We have eight more chances to show up so we just have to get back and try to find that consistent level we had the first three games."

Coming off an impressive performance against the Georgia Bulldogs, many were expecting an execution of equal caliber from the Sun Devils. However, the outcome was not reflective of a team that had nearly beaten a highly ranked SEC team.

"I felt that they just came out and out executed us," Nixon declared. "The coaches did a good job of preparing us and it's just a matter of us going out and playing better than we did. We have eight more chances to go out and show up, so hopefully we do."

Nixon, one of the team captains, has proven himself, more than capable of leading the Sun Devil defensive group in all aspects of the game. Every team needs a solid captain to rely on in situations like Saturday's contest, when things aren't going in favor of the Sun Devils.

"We just have to believe in ourselves, we know what we're capable of," the linebacker stated. "We just have to keep our confidence up and hopefully this Saturday we will start a winning streak that will last for awhile."

The Sun Devils are a team that flourishes when their defense performs well. The highly regarded group came out for the first time this season with a disappointing performance, allowing the Beavers to score twenty-one points in the first half alone.

"I think for whatever reason we just had a mental let down in the first half," Nixon commented. "We didn't come out with the intensity that we needed to play at the level we did the first three games and that's something we have to work on this week at practice and hope it carries over onto Saturday."

Although the first half didn't go according to plan, the defense was able to regain control of the game and hold Oregon State to one touchdown in the second half.

"I think at halftime we just talked about trying to play with more energy," the captain noted. "We know what we're capable of and we have to find a way to do it from the outside rather than get yelled at during halftime to get that energy."

The Sun Devils are now hoping to avoid a third loss in a row this Saturday when they take on the Washington State Cougars. If the team wants to continue their quest for a Pac-10 championship, they will need to revamp their game this week in practice. What will it take to avoid becoming 2-3?

"Go out and play our games and play with great energy," Nixon replied. "I think we were really lacking in the first half last week for whatever reason and if we go out and play the way we're capable of in the next eight games, it is going to be a good season."

Last year the Sun Devils shut out the Cougars 31-0 at Sun Devil Stadium which should leave the team confident in their ability to defeat them once again.

"They run no huddle offense and they try to put some pressure on the defense," Nixon noted. "The play assignments sound like they run a lot of different formations. We have to go out and we have to play a lot more soundly than we did last week and play a lot harder and I think we'll be alright."


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