After a particularly tough practice this week, Nix remained positive and upbeat about his group.
"We played better against Tulane than we did in the opener, but we are still not playing the way I know we can," he began. "I know we can do better. We had too many missed assignments and a couple of key penalties. Those things cost us some big plays.
"Having said that, the work ethic and the attitude these young men have exhibited tells me they will take care of those issues and I know they understand the importance of conference play. They know mistakes will cost us and they seem determined to minimize those errors."
Once again, just as they did in the opener, the Rebel defenders played overall good football in the first half of the Tulane game, but they lapsed in the third quarter.
Against the Green Wave, however, they were able to rev it back up and finish the game off in good style in the fourth stanza, something they were not able to do against Jacksonville State.
"We had some mistakes in the first half against Tulane, but more in the third quarter," Tyrone said. "I give Tulane credit - they had a couple of good plays in there that got us, but the bottom line is that our playmakers have to step up and make plays. We have to play better."
An issue has been the lack of pressure applied by the front four, especially on the edge. With Kentrell Lockett missing the first game, and getting his game spurs sharpened in the second, and Wayne Dorsey feeling his way through his first D-1 action, Nix feels that aspect will come around.
"We know what Kentrell can do and what he will do," Nix noted. "Wayne is coming around. He made a big play on a reverse against Tulane and is making progress. He still has plenty of room to improve, but we think he'll take another step forward this week.
"I don't think we have any player on our defense who would say they are totally happy with their play so far this year, but that's because they know what is expected of them and they are striving for perfection. Allen Walker is a prime example. He does not think he has played well. I think he's done a good job and is improving every day, but I like the fact he wants to do better and is not satisfied. The biggest thing we have to do is play error-free and with great effort. If we do that, we'll be pretty good, but we haven't done that yet consistently. We've done it in spurts, but we have to be more consistent with it."
The finish of the Tulane game, where the Rebel defense caused a lot of havoc on the Tulane offense and forced a game-ending fumble, was what Nix has been looking for.
"We made a statement there. We played fast and physical and we made some plays. We did what we are supposed to do," he noted. "They max protected and tested our coverage. They were able to move the chains that way due to some of our mistakes in coverage, but once we got them in long-yardage situations, and once we started executing and playing physical, we started making plays and that's the bottom line. Someone has to make a play."
Nix took the redshirt off of two freshmen - CB Tony Grimes and DE Carlos Thompson. His quick evaluation of those two?
"Tony did an excellent job. He played fearlessly and challenged the receiver the few plays he was in there. He also played within the scheme. He did well for his first action," stated Nix. "Carlos played like a freshman, but that's OK. We believe in him and have confidence in him. We expect him to be in the rotation this week as well."
Nix expects Vanderbilt to try to run the ball against the Rebels as their main attack.
"They are multiple, but they like to run the ball. They have a quarterback who has the ability to throw but he's athletic and likes to run the ball.
"Their offense is based around the run game. We'll see some option, some zone and some power. We've seen all of that before and should be able to compete well if we execute. That is what it will boil down to. We have to train our eyes, fit in the right place and finish."