"We have progressed on defense a lot since the start of the season, but I think we took a step back last game because we didn't come out aggressively as we needed to be in the first half," Dansby says. "We didn't play smart enough. We need to put everything together and be ready for the Arkansas game."
Karlos Dansby picked up a sack vs. Syracuse and deflected a pass. Through five games, the junior has 10 solo tackles and 17 assists with 2.5 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and two recoveries.
The Tigers don't play this Saturday, but Arkansas has a road trip to Tennessee while the Tigers have an extra week to prepare for their third SEC game of the season. At 2-0 in the league, the Tigers are currently on top of the SEC West standings. Last week's 37-34 triple overtime thriller vs. Syracuse was the third of four non-conference regular season games.
Dansby says his team showed it is in good shape by performing well in the three overtime periods. He says the defense played reasonably well in the first half except for one play when Syracuse hit a seam in a blitz and at running back raced 68 yards on a sweep. "We knew coming into the game that they had a really good offense and that we would give up some plays, but we didn't want to give up many," Dansby says. That run put the Orangemen up 17-0 when combined with a punt return for a TD and a fumble return that set up a first quarter field goal to start the scoring.
"In the second half we knew we had to really play well to have a chance to win," Dansby says. "We just decided to to out there and shut the gate and that is what we did. We got our second wind and we were up to the challenge. We played hard and got the job done at the end."
Last year in Fayetteville, a mistake-plagued Auburn team allowed the Razorbacks to take the lead even though Auburn dominated the total offensive statistics for three quarters. However, in the fourth period the Razorbacks ran away from the Tigers with two long scoring drives highlighted by the option running game.
With a new defensive system put in by coordinator Gene Chizik, the Tigers are hopeful they will have better success stopping QB Matt Jones and his option plays.
"We are ready for it," Dansby says. "We have worked on it a lot and thought Syracuse would run it more. They tried it one time. I think they got two yards and never went back to it. We are ready on the option. I don't think it will be a problem this game."
After watching the 2002 Razorbacks on video, Dansby notes, "They like to run a lot of power formations. We have seen some things we need to work on this week in practice. This is a good time for an off week. I think Coach Tubs did a good job of getting us this off week right before we get into the middle of the SEC season. That will help everybody get healthy and get their legs up under them."
The theme of defensive practice is on fundamentals this week. "We are going to try to get better as tacklers and work on flying to the football," Dansby says. "Those are the two things we really need to work on to get better as a team."