"It's progressed because the coaches know what we want, we know what the players can handle and, more importantly now, they're executing the way we want it to be executed,'' DeForest said. "We have mistakes out there like technique problems and missed tackles, but there are not a lot of mental errors.
"So at least we know they grasp it. Now it's just a matter of can they executed it by perfecting their technique, whether it's tackling or [man-to-man] technique, those types of things.''
Depth is another issue and one that can't be taken lightly. It isn't a matter of finding 11 guys who can play the scheme and plugging them into the right spots, although that was a major focus during August. Players - particularly among the front seven linemen and linebackers - were switched around like pieces in a puzzle.
Jorge Wright was moved from nose tackle to end and Shaq Rowell emerged as the top nose tackle. Tyler Anderson became a Buck linebacker instead of an end. Most of the linebackers have been tutored at multiple positions.
Behind the starters, though, there remain question marks almost everywhere. DeForest says he probably has five or six more players he feels comfortable putting into a game.
"You'd like to have 22, obviously. But sometimes that's not the case,'' DeForest said. "If you have three corners for two spots you're in good shape; three safeties for two spots, and so on. We feel like we're good there, but there are a couple of positions that we're still not solid on because guys have been banged up.''
All in all, though, it has been a good thing trying to find and fit those pieces while operating against an offense that is as good as any it will see all season. But even more importantly, those defenders have been trying to earn their spots at breakneck speed, which should serve them well if the game slows down a bit against other opponents.
"I think it's an advantage for us,'' DeForest said. "We can get our feet set, we can get our minds set, we can get our communications set. If they give us time to catch our breath and process the defensive call and then process the formation identification, I think we'll be a lot better, obviously. We've gone so fast and made them do that on the run, which should make us that much better.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1.