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September 15, 2010

Confidence Crucial In Home-Opener

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The response has been said repeatedly over the last two weeks.

It first happened at Nebraska, when the WKU defense surrendered 49 points and 536 yards of total offense. It continued the following week when Kentucky scored 63 points and put up 482 yards on the Toppers: the tackling has to improve.

But what has WKU done to go about fixing the problem?

"A lot of tackling drills, we put a big emphasis on that yesterday and today, especially since it's full pads," senior linebacker Chris Bullard said. "We've been working on not necessarily full-tackling, but getting your whole head across your body and stop letting people get extra yards after contact. We've been working on getting your head in front and running your feet and gang tackling and getting the ball out. When one person comes to tackle, the other person comes up and strips it."

There's been some silver linings in the two games. The numbers might not reflect it, but the Toppers point to strides made in the two games.

"We missed a lot less tackles, but we were out of position a little more against UK," junior safety Mark Santoro said. "We've simplified some things on defense. Hopefully, we go out there a little bit and just play. Coach Bowen doesn't want us to think out there, just kinda react and play. With the defense being simplified, I think it'll help guys be able to see their keys and trigger."

This week should offer another different look. While Indiana is another balanced team, they lean more to the air, while Nebraska and Kentucky favored the ground.

"We're being very conscious of your drops," Bullard said. "The last two weeks, we've been able to get away with it a little bit, not getting as deep as we needed to. This week, there's been an emphasis on getting deeper, getting re-routes, just little things that you think doesn't matter, but it does."

Hopes are still high that this can be the week that everything comes together to end the long-dreaded losing streak. But much of the honus will be on the defense to get some stops before that can begin to happen.

"These first two weeks have been tough, but you've gotta just put that in the past and move on," Santoro said. "You can't dwell on the past, you've just gotta go out there and it's all about the next play, especially at the defensive back position where you see people giving up big plays. Hey, forget that play, go on the next one."

Keeping their heads up has been another mantra echoed repeatedly by the Toppers. As with every other loss, that mindset is critical in bouncing back.

"That Sunday, you feel down, obviously," sophomore tight end Jack Doyle said. "It's kinda like the 24-hour rule I try to use. You've gotta get over it. You start Monday and you see the scouting report for Indiana and that's what gets you excited. You're ready to go for that next week, ready to move on."

More than anything, desperately ready to move on to a solid defensive week and move on desperately ready for that program-changing win.




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