Last week wasn't pretty. The Indiana defensive players know that.
But with one bye week already in the rearview mirror, the Hoosiers can't afford to dwell on opportunities missed in a 45-42 loss at Bowling Green. A new, bigger challenge stands in IU's way, and the Indiana defense is eager to prove that it is better than it showed last week.
"We gotta be more aggressive and when the point comes to make a play, we gotta make the play," cornerback Tim Bennett said Tuesday. "That was the only thing that jumped out at me in the fourth quarter."
Added defensive tackle Bobby Richardson: "We gotta stay more locked in. We kinda got out of whack a little bit. We gotta get our hands up more. When it's fast passes, we don't have time to get there and get the sack so we've gotta get our hands up, get pass breakups."
Indiana allowed 19 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday, including six on a game-winning drive in the closing seconds of the game. On that drive, the Hoosier secondary committed back-to-back pass interference penalties that gave Bowling Green a 1st-and-goal at the IU 2-yard line. The Falcons would score two plays later with only nine second remaining on the clock.
"Some of those, we just didn't get our eyes back to the ball," Bennett said. "That's something we gotta work on."
Now, the Hoosiers (1-1) will travel to Columbia to play No. 18 Missouri (3-0), a team that is averaging nearly 42 points per game through its first three games. The Tigers have lost only two home games the last two seasons, one coming against eventual national champion Auburn and the other a double-overtime loss to South Carolina.
"The excitement is real high because they've got a great stadium, great fans," Bennett said. "I know it's gonna be rockin' in there."
Indiana hosted Missouri last season, falling 45-28 at Memorial Stadium. The Tigers went on to win the SEC East.
Missouri has two running backs that have gained over 200 yards on the ground through three games, and quarterback Maty Mauk has thrown for 647 yards and 12 touchdowns.
It figures to be one of the biggest challenges the IU defense will face this season, but they're excited for the opportunity.
"It's a great feeling," Richardson said of playing an SEC team. "They came last year, we didn't finish the way we wanted to. We get a chance to redeem ourselves at their place, a bigger environment than we're used to. It's real exciting."