All of which means yet another un-boring week of work on the defensive side of the roster. The Eagles bring a 5-1 record in this first-ever meeting of the programs, with a 6:38 kickoff set at Scott Field. Collins spoke with media following Tuesday's practice.
They've played in SEC stadiums before so there won't be any intimidation? "Right, and it goes back to when Coach Meyer and Coach Mullen were there. When Coach Mullen was at Bowling Green I think they were 5-0 against BCS teams. So it's big challenge coming into our stadium and they've got a good offense like we've seen every single week this year."
What did you see in the LSU game film? "Just one of the best quarterbacks that we'll see all year. And I've got to imagine those are two of the best receivers in the country. They did a great job, had guys in position, guys ready to make plays. And unfortunately at times their guy came down with it when we didn't."
"So we knew it was going to be a big game going in, we knew it was going to be a challenge. And at times we played pretty well; other times, especially on third down they made plays and we didn't make plays. So that's some things we've got to correct. I think it's a good motivating factor for this week, another great offense coming in we've got to stand up, respond to what happened to us last Saturday and be ready to play."
Coach Mullen said some players might have been ‘pushing' too much in the fourth quarter? "Yeah, I think so. You just see guys in the fourth quarter jumping out of gaps, or going to play somebody else's fit instead of doing their job like they had done for the most part all game. And they were trying to press a little bit, that's just some things we've got to correct. Just trust the defense--for the most part they had done pretty well for most of the night--and respond and not try to do too much."
You gave up 59 points but still are fourth in the SEC in defense? "I think we've got great quarterbacks in this league and I don't know if that's always been the case. I think we've got great skill players and big offensive line, big defensive linemen. But what you see nowadays in this league is there are great quarterbacks. And we have another one coming in on Saturday. Nobody wants to give up that many points, nobody wants to give up that many yards. So just the expectations are not going to change on our end."
The defensive pride is obviously hurt after giving up 59 points. Do you go soft on them or hard on them? "The same approach every week. The opponent doesn't matter, the scoreboard doesn't matter. The thing that was the biggest disappointment to me Saturday is once we got down by ten, we started doing things we hadn't done all game."
"So it doesn't matter the situation. It doesn't matter what the scoreboard says, it doesn't matter who we're playing against. The expectation to play great defense is the same. And that's what we've tried to stress; play big-time defense. And the key we've been stressing, especially today, get off the field on third down. In the first third-down of the game, we had double-coverage, the kid makes an unbelievable play. Then later in the game we're within three points, third-and-19 the same situation, a kid converts, they end up scoring."
"Just those things; big emphasis on third down, not doing too much (and) playing outside the framework of the defense, and just keep doing the same things we've done all season."
How do you strike that balance, letting guys' athleticism take over and yet staying disciplined? "Yeah, that's the key. Just guys flying around. The whole focus of this program is playing with relentless effort, and just making sure we stress that at all times. And the fourth quarter not getting loose and jumping out of gaps or jumping out of fits or trying to go cover somebody else's guy. Just cover your guy."