Nixon, defense comes up big in home win

Sun Devil stadium was full of emotion as the matchup between Arizona State and Washington came to a close. Mike Nixon and the defensive group held the Huskies to three and out series at the end of the fourth quarter to give Danny Sullivan the opportunity to throw a 50-yard game winning TD pass to Chris McGaha which notched the 24-17 win for the Sun Devils.

Defensively, the Sun Devils were largely responsible for the teams nine penalties, totally 99 yards. Among the plethora of infractions, were three personal fouls by Vontaze Burfict. The amount of penalties handed out to the Arizona State defense resulted in an intense crowd reaction, which did their part to energize the team.

"Obviously it was a little chippy both ways," Nixon commented. "And we feel when there is a fifteen person pile and there is just one personal foul posed on you, you get a little frustrated. We have guys playing hard with a leap of a head penalty and you can't do anything about that.

If a guy catches a ball and you hit him in the same way and the ball pops out it's a great play. Followed by pass interference, Coach was a little hot and we got the crowd a little amped and it gave the defense some energy there."

A riled up Sun Devil stadium provided the energy the squad needed to ensure a win against the Huskies. Washington entered the competition 2-1 in the Pac-10, including a win against the USC Trojans. Washington quarterback, John Locker threw two interceptions throughout the game, the latter occurring on the final play of the game as the Huskies attempted to score in the last five seconds.

Collectively the Sun Devils were able to pull out the win. An interception in the second quarter by Ryan McFoy saved a touchdown. Overall, the ASU defense focused on containing Locker and limiting his big play capability.

"I think we gave up some yards but as a whole we kind of did the whole ‘bend, don't break'," Nixon said. "It's similar to how we played two years ago. With a quarterback like Locker we just had to eliminate big plays and obviously they got one early and after that we kept them to nothing over about 20-25 yards and that's a huge thing for a defense. We really kept his legs in check, he had a couple runs, maybe for about ten (yards)."

Accomplishing their goals, holding the visitors to just seventeen points, the defense knew they had to deliver in the fourth quarter when the Huskies took the field with 1:17 left in the game, attempting to notch the win. After three incomplete passes Locker and the Huskies were forced to punt.

Nixon attributes the defenses success as a collective effort but does give credit to his teammates for stepping up in today's game. When each member of the squad does take care of their responsibilities, it results in an easier experience for the rest of the group. The team, which has struggled with inconsistencies, finally seems to have found their place.

"As a whole, our front four helped us out so much there," Nixon stated. "We had constant pressure and got him out of the pocket and make plays when he went out of the pocket and it makes it so much easier on the rest of us."

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