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September 15, 2010

Threet preparing again for Wisconsin

Steven Threet remembers playing against Wisconsin as a redshirt freshman in 2008.

He remembers leading Michigan to victory after staring at a 19-0 deficit. He remembers his 58-yard run that helped turn the tide.

"It was a read-option play," Threet said. "(The defense) caught me; I was kind of upset about that. They caught me from behind."

So what do those memories do for Threet as he prepares to face the Badgers once again, this time as the quarterback for his new team, Arizona State?

"It's better to be 1-0 than 0-1 against them, I guess," Threet said.

Other than that, the quarterback didn't care to stroll too long down memory lane on Tuesday, insistent that his past experience against Wisconsin, currently the nation's 11th-ranked team, has little bearing on what he and his teammates are up against Saturday at rowdy Camp Randall Stadium.

"There's some of the same guys and I've played Wisconsin before, but there's a lot of different guys and we're running a different offense; I've got different teammates," Threet said. "Obviously it's a different situation, but I'm just excited for the game."

Threet and his teammates answered questions Tuesday about handling crowd noise, preparing for a possible rain-soaked game and playing in a Big Ten atmosphere.

The general consensus among the Sun Devils: None of it matters a whole lot.

Still attempting to work out the kinks of a new offense that have appeared in the first two games, Threet said the focus is on doing what makes the offense effective.

Things like tempo.

"We always want to play fast," said Threet, who has completed 67 percent of his passes during ASU's 2-0 start. "That's our goal again this week is to play fast and get the plays off quickly."

The pace of the game on both sides of the ball figures to be a key factor in Saturday's contest. As always, the Sun Devil offense, constantly in no-huddle mode, will attempt to keep the pressure on a Badger defense more used to the grind-it-out rigors of the Big Ten than the high-flying Noel Mazzone-authored scheme that will make its way to Madison.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said at his weekly press conference Monday that he is marveled by the speed of the ASU offense, not a sentiment ASU fans have heard about their team in recent years.

"They are as fast as any huddle we've ever seen," Bielema said. "It's a unique preparation and difficult challenge for our defense, but I know they'll be excited to do it."

For the ASU defense, getting off the field against a Wisconsin team that loves to grind out the clock will be crucial. Erickson said junior defense tackle Saia Falahola is back to full strength and sophomore Toa Tuitea should be able to play Saturday. The Sun Devils will likely need as many able bodies as possible to combat the bruising running attack of Wisconsin running back John Clay and a powerful offensive line opening holes for him.

"They average 330 pounds (on the offensive line)," Erickson said. "We haven't seen that, nor have we really seen that since I've been here. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us, but we're excited about it."

Changing of the guard

After evaluating the tape of Saturday's game against Northern Arizona, Erickson and his staff made the decision to put Mike Marcisz with the first-team unit at left guard in practice this week, setting the stage for the junior to make his first career start in place of junior Adam Tello.

"We put him at left guard and we're going to give him an opportunity," Erickson said. "We'll take a look at him and see what we're going to do."

Marcisz, who missed all but two games last season due to injury, played well in ASU's game against NAU and is eager to make an impact if he gets the starting nod.

"I really want to do the best I can with it to help the team out and all the coaches and players who are counting on me," Marcisz said. "That's what means the most to me."

As a unit, Marcisz said the offensive line is anxious to return to the field after a sub-par performance against NAU led to just 56 yards rushing.

"I feel great physically and I have confidence I can do what the coaches have asked of me, which is just to help us out in the run game on some of the blocks we do and rise to the challenge ahead of us," Marcisz said. "It's just about being physical and wanting it bad and going out there and showing that on the field on every play."


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