PENSACOLA — The game plan floating around the West Florida locker room this week is simple: Improve.

Improve on offense. Improve on defense. Improve on special teams.

The effort might have been there in a 20-13 Week 1 loss to Carson-Newman on the road in Jefferson City, but the execution wasn’t. Passes were dropped, an extra point sailed wide and tackles were missed on plays that extended Tiger drives.

“Obviously, we were very disappointed in the outcome,” UWF coach Pete Shinnick told the Daily News. “We really never got going the way that we’re capable of on both sides of the ball … We’ve got to play better and we’ve got to be ready when the whistle blows to play our best.”

And that, Shinnick said, has been the focus in practice this week, the Argos (0-1) set to open Gulf South Conference play against Shorter at 12 p.m. CDT Saturday on the road in Rome, Georgia. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3, the ESPN app and ESPN Pensacola 99.1 FM.

UWF topped the Hawks 51-7 a year ago behind 369 yards and three touchdowns from Sam Vaughn, as well as a 206-yard, four-touchdown effort on the ground.

The Argos are 3-0 all-time against Shorter (0-1), which has lost 40 straight games, its last victory coming against Mississippi College, 42-23, on Oct. 3, 2015.

Futility aside, Shinnick sees a team improving under second-year head coach Zach Morrison, citing the play of junior defensive back Nehemiah Reddish, senior defensive lineman Terrance Snellings — “Both of them stand out as guys just playing hard and getting it done.” — and senior quarterback Tyler Pullum, a three-year starter, as reason for optimism.

“We feel like this is a much improved team,” Shinnick said. “We feel like they’re better than they’ve been.

“They gave up 66 points to (FCS) Samford in about three and half quarters (last year). This year they played East Tennessee State (in Week 1). They gave up 48, but it wasn’t like it was this big blowout.

“They hung in there.”

Shinnick, though isn’t so much concerned with the Hawks as he is about his own squad.

“We have a saying around here: ‘It’s how we play, not who we play,’” he said. “We know we gotta play well.”

That starts on the offensive line, which surrendered four sacks this past week, including one on the final play of the game as quarterback Austin Reed was trying to get off a Hail Mary from Carson-Newman’s 45 down seven.

Moreover, a year removed from setting a program record with 132.3 rushing yards per game, the Argos managed just 68 yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts against the Tigers.

And of the Argos’ 11 drives Thursday, only two resulted in points.

“They’ve had much better energy (this week),” Shinnick said of his O-line. “I think they’re irritated. They’re frustrated. I think they know they can play better than that.”

And if the offensive line shores up, that bodes well for the Argos’ signal-callers, UWF’s quarterback competition continuing into the regular season.

Redshirt senior J.C. Robles drew the start against Carson-Newman, but after two drives stalled, Reed, a redshirt freshman entered and completed 15 of 29 passes for 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Both quarterbacks were expected to be given two drives each at the beginning of the game before the coaching staff chose who would finish out the opener, Shinnick said, adding Reed will start against the Hawks, though Robles will again get playing time.

“It just felt like (Reed) had a better command of what we were looking for, so we just stuck with it,” Shinnick said.

Who starts and finishes the game Saturday feels somewhat irrelevant, though. Off to its first winless start in program history, UWF simply must be better across the board.

“We just need to be more productive,” Shinnick said. “Obviously, 13 points isn’t gonna win you many games."