"The difference between great teams and good teams is the week one to week two, and how you get better, how you learn from your mistakes, so we just got to go out there and get better this week in practice," sophomore defensive end Nosa Eguae said. "I just can't wait to get out there and get ready for Mississippi State."
Eguae, who was in on 1 1/2 of the defense's 8 1/2 tackles for a loss and two of its seven quarterback hurries, said that getting more pressure in the opponent's backfield is one area the Tigers need to improve.
"We have just got to get penetration," the sophomore said. "We were glued on blocks a little bit in the first half; second half, we stopped thinking and we started just getting in the backfield, going out there and making plays, and that's what we're going to continue to start next week."
Eguae said it is especially hard for the young players on the defense to stop thinking too much on the field and just go out and play.
"When you go out there and you want to play perfect for the coaches, it's hard to just go out there and run and hit, but I know our coaches are going to take care of us this week," Eguae said. "We're going to have a great game plan, and we're going to be able to go out there and just run and hit."
Defensive back Demetruce McNeal, who had seven tackles and one pass broken up, would also like to see the Tigers bring more pressure, as well as play more man-to-man in the secondary. He added that blitzing more and man-to-man coverage would also help the Tigers defense keep offenses from converting on third downs.
"I just know our secondary," McNeal said. "We like man-to-man because it's better--they can't really kill us on the slants easily. You play man-to-man and all that gets shut down.
"We didn't play enough," added McNeal of how much man-to-man the defense played against the Aggies on Saturday. "We didn't start playing a lot of man until the second half."
Demetruce McNeal was a reserve last season, but is now starting at safety.
McNeal gave himself a grade of B plus for his assignments and alignments and an overall grade of A plus as far as his effort was concerned against Utah State, but admitted that he "just had to get my eyes right on my assignments and alignment, and all those things."
The sophomore defensive back was less generous with his take on the defense's performance as a whole, though.
"Oh, man. Average man. Utah State--what did we give up, 38 points?" he said. "Our motto is to stop the run, and we didn't do a good job of that, but we're going to get in the film room and just make corrections and get better.
"We have just got to get it right, communicate better, and just fit the gaps, and just everybody know their assignment," he added.
The Tigers normally take Mondays off in season, but will practice on Monday evening to take advantage of the Labor Day holiday.