With the Cougars' home opener against Army just three days away, head coach Dana Dimel once again stressed the importance of the game not only as the first game at Robertson Stadium but also as their first Conference USA game of the 2000 season.
"More than anything we're trying to get ourselves locked down and understand how important the conference games are," Dimel said following practice. "And this is such an early conference game, so having one early intensifies how quickly we have to get our football team ready so that's also been a major stress point for us this week."
And in preparation going up against a team known for an offense which specializes in trick plays, practice has focused on the Cougars' defensive concentration and discipline, especially for the younger starting players such as first-year transfer Hanik Milligan (defensive back) and redshirt freshman David Midyett (first-string defensive end).
"One of the big things is that they (Army) rely on a lot of trickery in their offense and it makes the defense really have to be assignment-oriented in maintaining their offense," Dimel reiterated.
"As for our offense, we're just going to try to be more balanced in what we have been doing," he said. "We love that we are passing the ball so well, but this is the week for us to get our running game going to a better efficiency.
He said that he and his coaching staff have been very pleased with the success of the Cougar passing game so far this season, especially with fourth-year quarterback Jason McKinley, currently rated as the fifth-best passer among his collegiate peers around the country, at the helm. Even so, they have been working on the timing and precision of the passing within twenty yards of the goal line. "We're trying to work on our blitz beaters against pressure because we haven't been efficient enough inside the twenty.
"And we're still trying to iron out some of the things within our special teams going back to kicking," he continued. "Even though there wasn't anything major that shows up in the ball game against LSU, if we would have won the kicking game in the first and second quarters, we would've won the ball game."