MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The Tigers defense entered Thursday night’s game with six total sacks on the season, they added four more after an explosive performance against Navy.  

“It felt good getting back to the quarterback, for real,” said senior defensive lineman John Tate IV.

So, what changed?

“The defense had the resolve to say okay, it may not have worked right now, but we’re so close,” said Tigers coach Ryan Silverfield. “We’re so close, but let’s find a way to get those stops and they didn’t just proud of their efforts.”

“I feel like we came together as a defense this week,” said Tate. “We had just a good game plan, simple plays, step flack, good technique, all that stuff and it really helped us.” 

The Tigers defense also put up six tackles for loss to go along with the season-high sacks. Tate said the theme of this week was to just go out and play with passion. 

“We just got to take it one game at a time,” Tate said. “We know we can change the game anytime we want to get a win. So, we had to lock in and just do the little things right. I say that all of the time, do the little things right and just own into our craft and just play with a passion.” 

“Man, the way they respond to our defense was absolutely phenomenal,” said Silverfield. “They didn’t sit there like on the sidelines like man, it’s not working this year it’s not, they didn’t throw their hands up, there’s no finger point they just said okay, they, I don’t know if you guys saw the sideline, this is the best I’ve seen our sideline since I’ve been here, guys, we’re bright eyed there, you know dialed in.” 

It’s no secret that this Tigers team has been through some adversity, but Silverfield told the media Thursday night his team was so focused on the sidelines. They were truly dialed in to overcome it. 

“Hey this is adversity, this is what it looks like we’re sitting thinking I was thinking man I haven’t slept in three weeks,” Silverfield said. “And, but these young men they freaking believe they fight and I’m just so darn proud. And so it wasn’t a new change we didn’t come out here and say this is what we were able to execute and they continue to believe, and I talked to him, I kind of use the blocks analogy, we got our asses knocked down, but we’re getting off the mat and we had to get off the mat, the day after the freaking last game. And now we’re back against ropes and all week we got to keep swinging swinging swinging.”

And they’ll have to keep swinging as they prepare to take on Central Florida down at the Bounce House in Orlando.

“We know UCF is going to be a good team, they have a good team almost every year,” Tate said. “So, we know they’re going to play fast. We know they’re going to pass the ball. We know they’re going to have a good little crowd there, too. They’re stadium is always rocking, they’re stadium is always loud so, we’re going to prepare for that. We’re going to have a good week this week.” 

It’ll be a Friday night kick off set for 6pm in a series that’s pretty lopsided, 13-2 Knights, but the Tigers are ready for the challenge.