Louisville junior defensive tackle Earl Heyman believes the Cardinals defensive problems are correctable – even though the problems are numerous.
"It's fixable things, little things actually," said Heyman. "It's little technique errors, assignment errors, just getting a feel for each other. We have to get a feel for ourselves as a defense and I think the (MTSU) game is helping us get a better feel for ourselves and learn our assignments better."
Louisville lost six starters off last season's Orange Bowl championship defense, including three players, Amobi Okoye, Nate Harris and Will Gay who are now playing the NFL. Naturally, some drop off and early season growing pains are expected.
"I think we're going in the right direction," Heyman said. "Obviously we had some problems last week. The good thing is it's over and all those errors are correctable. If we show up and play football everything will take care of itself. It's the same scheme but we've got some new guys that have to learn the scheme. We have to become a cohesive unit."
Heyman has seen the MTSU film a bunch in the past week. He's studied and re-studied it. He thinks he and his teammates have learned a lot from their mistakes in that game.
"I watched it about eight or nine times," Heyman said. "I saw little things that I can do to personally to become a better football player. Everybody has been doing the same thing on defense."
Now, Heyman and the U of L defense face their greatest test of the season against highly-explosive Kentucky, on the road. The Wildcats are led by All-SEC quarterback Andre Woodson and are averaging 53 points per game and rank eighth nationally in total offense.
"We look at this as a great challenge and we welcome the challenge," Heyman said. "They're very talented on offense and we're looking forward to the game. We're going to try to execute our game and assignments each and every play."
What's the key to improvement on defense?
"We've got to communicate better," Heyman said. "And we will."
Since coming to Louisville three years ago from Ballard High three years ago, Heyman has never lost to Kentucky in three games. Being a local kid, the Louisville-Kentucky game is an important one for him personally. It's probably also important to his brother, Dexter. Dexter Heyman is a top-notch recruit from Male and will decide between Louisville and Kentucky, perhaps as soon as next week.
"It means a great deal to me personally as a player," Heyman said. "I'm from Louisville and I've been around the game my whole life. It's a big rivalry and I understand how big it is. It's a big rivalry not just for the city of Louisville but the state of Kentucky."