"Everybody knows that Auburn was a great team last year and had an unbelievable season," said Heard. "And everybody probably knew we were overmatched last year. But I definitely think we have the talent to compete with anybody this year. We just have to be mentally ready to play the game."
In addition to more talent, a year's experience playing the same defensive and offensive schemes have also helped as well, according to Heard.
"We understand the offense and defense, now," he said. "We know the schemes."
As for what the MSU defense will have to do to help his team win this weekend, Heard feels pressuring Auburn's young quarterback will be a key.
"You definitely want to put some pressure on their quarterback, because you want him to have to make quick decisions under pressure," said the junior. "I think that's probably what happened to him during the Georgia Tech game."
Although Auburn sophomore quarterback Brandon Cox threw for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns against Georgia Tech, he also threw 4 interceptions, which helped Georgia Tech pull off a 23-14 upset of the Tigers.
While the defensive front four of the Bulldogs will have to pressure the quarterback to have success against Auburn, the MSU secondary will have to face three receivers that are big, tall and fast. Is Heard worried about that?
"The Murray State receiver that I played against was 6-5," said the 6-0, 195-pounder. "And we've played the Auburn receivers before. They are 6-1 to 6-2, which is not that big of a deal. If you play with good technique, it shouldn't be a problem."
If Heard and company doesn't play with good technique, past history says that the Auburn receivers could spell trouble. And two of them, seniors Anthony Mix (6-5, 248) and Ben Obomanu (6-1, 198), have the stats to prove it. Mix has recorded five receptions for 94 yards and three touchdowns, while Obomanu has hauled in 4 receptions for 91 yards and 3 touchdowns against the 'Dogs.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.