"We had a solid performance," Bell said. "It wasn't our best day, but we did a lot of things well. Definitely things we want to improve on, as far as getting lined up right and tackling. I think we took steps forward Saturday."
Tacking is one the area that Auburn needed a lot of improvement defensively. While it was far from perfect and there is still plenty of room to get better there, Bell said he saw things getting better in that department as well.
"Definitely," Bell said. "We didn't have as many missed tackles from certain guys, guys that we need to make big tackles. Myself, linebackers and safeties. I think we did a better job and we're going to keep working on it."
Auburn's tackling has to take a huge leap forward this week as the Tigers go on the road to face South Carolina and two of the top players in the country, running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Averaging 152.8 yards per game on the ground with eight touchdowns, Lattimore has been the workhorse for the Gamecocks so far, but Bell said both of them create a problem for a defense.
"I'm not going to knock on Florida Atlantic because they had good athletes, but Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffries, they're just two different animals," Bell said. "Tackling them, we're going to make sure we get more than one person on them because just one guy isn't going to bring them down. So I think we're going to try to get population to the ball and try to create some turnovers when we do get to the ball."
Last season Auburn did a good job of holding down Lattimore in the two games Auburn played against South Carolina. In the first meeting he ran 14 times for 33 yards and later in the SEC Championship Game he totaled 84 yards on 16 carries. Bell said it's just a big challenge facing a guy like him and so far Auburn has been up to the challenge against a player many thought could have been a teammate.
"I don't know," Bell said. "I think guys just play with an edge considering he was a top recruit and we were real big on him coming here and him going to South Carolina, guys just play with an edge. Felt like we needed to show him maybe he should have been with us. Not saying he's with the wrong team, he's doing real well where he's at. I think guys just played with an edge and that was the key for us both times we played against them."
Near the bottom of the country in most defensive statistics through four games is not a place where you normally expect to find the Auburn defense, but that's the position they're in right now heading to South Carolina. Even with that the Tigers are 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the SEC. Preparing to face a brutal stretch of games in October that could make or break a season Bell said the team is focused and getting better and facing the challenge head on.
"I trust the coaching staff and the players," Bell said. "I've got full trust in them. It's going to separate the men from the boys. Hopefully I don't have no boys fighting next to me because it's going to be tough in October. We've got a lot of guys… and that's why they come to Auburn, for this long stretch we've got. I don't think anybody is going to shy away from the challenge."