Redshirt senior defensive tackle Will Sutton has heard everyone’s main concern about ASU’s defense: The Sun Devils can’t stop the run.
He’s OK with that for now, though.
“It’s just music to our ears,” Sutton said. “We just have to go out there and prove them wrong.”
Sutton believes ASU’s run defense has improved simply because of more experience, and he’s eager to prove it against a physical Wisconsin offense.
ASU’s battle for ground control with No. 20 Wisconsin starts on the line of scrimmage. The Badgers’ offensive linemen are no shorter than 6-foot-3 and no lighter than 318 pounds.
Sutton, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 310 pounds, said it’s the biggest line he will ever face, but he has an idea on how to stand toe-to-toe with them.
“You got to hit them right in the mouth,” he said. “They’re big guys, but they don’t play low, they play high. You got to get low and hit them in the mouth.”
The Badgers’ running backs are physical and can power through defenses in read-zone plays while keeping defenders guessing with play-action fakes.
Sutton knows that, and the goal is to keep them from going up the middle.
“Once we give them the perimeter run, then we’ll win the game,” he said.
WR coach DelVaughn Alexander faces old team, gets receivers ready
ASU wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander wasn’t with the Sun Devils in 2010 when they last played Wisconsin, but he still remembers that game.
At that time, he was the receivers coach for the Badgers and helped Wisconsin beat ASU 20-19.
“It was a tight game,” Alexander said. “ASU was like it is now — full of talent and full of speed. With the tables turned, all we could control was our mental approach, making sure that we were smart and making sure we did our jobs.”
Alexander is managing ASU’s wide receivers today, but he’s still quite familiar with his former team. He said he hasn’t been talking trash to any of his ex-players, because he wants them and himself to focus during game week.
“I know those guys are going to be smart, and they’re going to be tough,” he said. “And we talk about being tough and smart every day by comparison. That’s why we’re going to have a tough game, and we have to continue being that.”
Alexander has much respect for the Badgers’ defensive backs. Wisconsin features an inexperienced secondary that only has one senior starter in safety Dezmen Southward and several freshmen starters, including Sojourn Shelton and Jakarrie Washington. Still, the Badgers gave up a mere 181 passing yard and forced two interceptions in their first two games.
“We just have to focus on the little things that we can control and be consistent,” Alexander said.
Many thought the wide receivers had a solid and impressive game last Thursday in the season opener against Sacramento State as ASU recorded 365 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Of course, senior tight end Chris Coyle, redshirt junior tight end De’Marieya Nelson and senior running back Marion Grice contributed to much of the receiving production, but Alexander believes the wideouts are improving at a good pace.
ASU is still waiting on freshmen Ellis Jefferson, Cameron Smith and junior Joe Morris to get healthy and find time on the field. Despite standing out in preseason camp, none of them played in the season opener.
“We got pretty good numbers, so with us beginning the season, it’s just a matter of finding their spots, and they’re 100 percent,” Alexander said.
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