Pre Season Outlook: La Tech Bulldogs

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  1. dubb40

    dubb40 Sideline Football, We Rock!

    Jul 26, 2010
    Pre Season Outlook: La Tech Bulldogs

    Season Outlook

    The surest sign that Louisiana Tech is a program on the rise came when Tennessee plucked coach and athletic director Derek Dooley from the Bulldogs in January.

    Dooley was just 17-20 in three years, but his team was competitive against some top-notch teams -- the Bulldogs spooked Boise State and LSU late last year -- and the program had built momentum off the field.

    That progress attracted Darren Douglas to the job.

    "I've worked my entire life to get to this point," the 30-year-old Dykes said at his introductory press conference. "People are what make successful programs. It's not about buildings. It's not about facilities. It's about people. I really believe the right people are here to get this program to the right level."

    Douglas tabbed one newcomer and one holdover as his coordinators.

    Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin brings his frantic, four-wide receiver attack to Louisiana Tech. He's friends with Douglas, with whom he worked at Kentucky in the late 1990s.

    And for good reason. The league is known for its high-scoring offenses, and that's what Franklin produces.

    Middle Tennessee scored 32 points per game last year under Franklin. Troy lit up scoreboards in 2006 and 2007 with Franklin running the offense, posting a 16-9 record and scoring 30-plus points against Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma State.

    In between, Franklin was fired by Auburn during the 2008 season. He spent four years earlier in the decade teaching the no-huddle, spread offense as a consultant.

    "If everybody buys in, the product works," Franklin said. "If everybody doesn't buy in, the product doesn't work. Every place I've been that's been successful, everybody bought in."

    Franklin's offense is similar to the one run by his former boss at Kentucky, Hal Mumme. However, Franklin puts a heavier emphasis on the run.

    The scheme includes eight or nine pass concepts and five run plays.

    "I'm not very smart," Franklin said. "I felt like it was something that I always understood because it was very simple. Players play a lot faster if they don't think. That's the thing that still appeals to me -- there's not a lot of thinking done by the players."

    2010 Schedule
    Sept. 4 -- Grambling State
    11 -- @Texas A&M
    18 -- Navy
    25 -- Southern Miss
    Oct. 2 -- @Hawaii
    9 -- Utah State
    16 -- Idaho
    26 -- @Boise State
    Nov. 6 -- Fresno State
    13 -- @New Mexico State
    27 -- @San Jose State
    Dec. 4 -- Nevada

    • 2009 Schedule and Results
    • 2009 Statistics
    The key for Franklin is the details. He prides himself on teaching those.

    The offense used to feature a deep repertoire of formations to dress up the simplicity of the plays, but he has abandoned that.

    "It's not easy to learn details," he said. "It's more important to spend time on details than to spend time on creating new plays. I don't try to outthink other coaches -- that's not what I'm good at. I'm a good teacher, a good coach on the field. The scheme stuff is not my forte."

    Instead, Franklin beats defenses with speed. Middle Tennessee averaged 73.5 offensive snaps per game last year, five more than Louisiana Tech.

    "We want to play with great tempo and great speed and try to maximize the number of snaps that we can have during a ballgame," Franklin said. "The objective is to make the defense get lined up as fast as possible and not be as scheme-oriented to keep them simple. A lot of times that takes them away from doing some things they'd normally like to do. And if you play fast enough, you can eventually wear people down."

    Defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler is a holdover from the Dooley staff. He enters his fourth season after three impressive years in Ruston.

    Spangler inherited a defense that was the nation's worst in 2006. Last year, the Bulldogs ranked second in the WAC to Boise State in total defense, scoring defense and pass-efficiency defense. Spangler wouldn't say whether he had the option of joining the Tennessee staff.

    "This is an opportunity to continue to develop what I think is a heck of a program," said Spangler, who helped Georgia Southern win a couple FCS national titles earlier in his career. "There's a lot of work that's still undone."


    Head Coach: Darren Douglas (Louisiana Tech '01)
    Record at School: First year
    Career Record: First year


    • Rob Likens (Mississippi State '90) Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers
    • Tony Franklin (Murray State '79) Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
    • Tommy Spangler (Georgia '84) Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
    • Kevin Curtis (Texas Tech '02) Cornerbacks
    • Stan Eggen (Moorhead State '77) De-fensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator
    • Pierre Ingram (Middle Tennessee '06) Running Backs
    • Jeff Koonz (Auburn '04) Linebackers
    • Pete Perot (North-western State '79) Offensive Line
    • Mark Tommerdahl (Concordia '83) Tight Ends/Special Teams
  2. dubb40

    dubb40 Sideline Football, We Rock!

    Jul 26, 2010


    Senior Ross Jenkins (6-3, 212) started the last eight games of 2008 and all 12 games in 2009. He hasn't been particularly productive, however. Combined, he threw just 24 touchdown passes in those 20 games. He averaged 162 passing yards per game and completed 57 percent of his passes.

    Jenkins missed six spring practices because of his father's death.

    "The one thing Ross has is experience," Franklin said. "He's competed for two seasons. He's been out there in situations. He's a heady kid who doesn't make many mistakes."

    Jenkins is in a fight for his job with Auburn transfer Steven Ensminger (6-2, 225). The senior red-shirted at Auburn in 2006, sat out in 2007 and was on the Louisiana Tech scout team in 2008 and 2009.

    His dad coached with Franklin at Auburn.

    "Ensminger is more talented [than Jenkins]," Franklin said. "He has a bigger arm. He's able to make more throws that Ross isn't able to make."

    The Bulldogs also have sophomore Colby Cameron (6-2, 190), who played extensively against Idaho last year and challenged for the starting job. He isn't expected to factor into the race this year, though. Franklin does expect to add a junior college quarterback who could compete with Jenkins and Ensminger. "We should have three guys competing really hard for the job throughout the summer," Franklin said. He would like to have a running quarterback but doesn't have one on the roster. He'll address that in recruiting.

    Standout tailback Daniel Porter, who rushed for 1,132 yards last year, is gone.

    His understudies -- sophomore Tyrone Duplessis (5-8, 185) and senior Myke Compton (5-9, 210) -- return, but both were out during spring ball. They combined for 463 rushing yards last season. "They're way back on the depth chart," Franklin said.

    That leaves a newcomer, a converted receiver and a converted fullback competing for time in the one-back system.

    Junior Lennon Creer (6-1, 205) played in 11 games for Tennessee in 2008. He rushed for 388 yards and scored four touchdowns. He also played in 13 games in 2007. He sat out 2009 as a transfer. Creer was chosen the high school player of the year in Texas by at least one organization.

    "He has really good speed, great hands out of the backfield," Franklin said. "He's got some talent. It's just a matter of being more consistent with his work ethic."

    Sophomore Lyle Fitte (5-8, 185) played as a true freshman last year. He was a receiver and kick returner, busting three kickoff returns of more than 50 yards. He moved to running back in the spring and should be a multi-faceted threat.

    "He's got the ability to make people miss in space," Franklin said.

    Senior Roosevelt Falls (6-1, 230) spent most of the last three years as a special-teamer. He doesn't have a college carry.

    "He was more of a blocking back [previously]," Franklin said. "He showed signs of being a pretty good runner."

    The Bulldogs return two starters at wide receiver -- and neither practiced in spring ball.

    Senior Phillip Livas (5-8, 175) should be an electric player in this offense, but injuries have been an issue throughout his career. He has averaged 15 yards per catch, 10 yards per carry, 14.9 yards per punt return and 25.7 yards per kickoff return in his career. He has six return touchdowns.

    "On film, he looks good with the ball in his hands," Franklin said. "We'll figure out ways to get the ball in his hands. Hopefully he'll stay healthy."

    Junior R.P. Stuart (6-3, 215) started eight games last season. He made only 17 catches, but they covered 249 yards -- an average of 14.6 yards per grab. He missed spring ball with a torn ACL. The two veterans will be joined by two more SEC transfers, a couple of returnees and a couple of promising freshmen.

    "These guys are talented, they do have skill, but they just haven't been on the game field to show it off," Franklin said.

    The transfers are sophomore Ahmad Paige (6-1, 180), who played briefly for Tennessee in 2008, and freshman Tim Molton (6-2, 170), who red-shirted at LSU in 2008 and transferred while recovering from a knee injury.

    Sophomore Richie Casey (5-11, 185), who missed all of last season with a knee injury, and sophomore Cruz Williams (6-3, 195), who started four games and averaged 17.3 yards per catch last year, should be factors, too.

    Red-shirt freshman Jacarri Jackson (6-2, 185) and gray-shirt freshman D.J. St. Julien (6-0, 190) also had strong springs.

    Franklin doesn't use tight ends in his offense. However, he plans to utilize those on the roster as big-bodied receivers. Junior Eric Harper (6-4, 230) could be a factor this year.

    The Bulldogs return all five starters from an offensive line that produced 4.4 yards per carry and allowed 27 sacks last year.

    Senior left tackle Rob McGill (6-6, 310) gets the most attention. He has started every game for two years, earning All-WAC second-team honors both years. He played both tackle spots last year.

    "He's very talented," Franklin said. "He's a really high skill guy. If he has a great season, he should have a shot at playing at the next level."

    Senior center Lon Roberts (6-3, 285) has started the last three seasons.

    "He's a steady guy," Franklin said. "He knows what he's doing. He's a good leader."

    The guards are sophomore Stephen Warner (6-0, 300), who started the last three games at right guard last year, and sophomore Kevin Saia (6-2, 300), who started the last three games at left guard. Senior Cudahy Harmon (6-6, 310) emerged as the right tackle in spring ball. He started seven games last year, 11 games in 2008 and one in 2007. He has surpassed sophomore Jordan Mills (6-6, 325), who started five games last year as a true freshman.

    Depth is an issue on the line. Franklin expects to recruit at least five or six linemen in the 2011 class. "We're under-scholarshipped at that position tremendously, more than any place I've ever been," Franklin said.
  3. dubb40

    dubb40 Sideline Football, We Rock!

    Jul 26, 2010


    Junior Matt Broha (6-4, 235) is the only returning starter on the line. He has started the last two seasons at left end, accumulating 63 tackles, 5.5 sacks, six pass breakups and an interception. Four of those sacks came last year.

    "He's a guy who's played a lot and a guy we're going to count on to be a leader there at defensive end," defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler said. "He's got a lot of upside."

    Junior Christian Lacey (6-1, 240) is the leading contender at right end. He earned quality playing time the last two years, recording four sacks as a true freshman in 2008. Senior Randy Grigsby (6-3, 245) is the third end. He has been a part-time player the last three years. Senior Jonathan Zeno (6-0, 235) also should get some playing time.

    At tackle, the Bulldogs must replace longtime standout D'Anthony Smith and Adrian Logan. Smith went in the third round of the NFL draft. Senior Mason Hitt (6-1, 270) will probably fill one of those spots. He started 12 games in 2008 and recorded 33 tackles last year as a backup. Senior Ramone Randle (6-2, 300) is expected to fill the other tackle spot. He played in only eight games last year because of injuries.

    "We've got some experience," Spangler said. "We did lose a couple of good players. ... I'm not sure how at any individual spot we will be great, but I think as a defensive line, as a whole, we've got a chance to be effective.

    "The talent's there. The character part of it is there. It's just a matter of going and doing it."

    Starters Jay Dudley (6-3, 225), Adrien Cole (5-11, 240) and Tank Calais (5-11, 205) return.

    Dudley, a junior, could have a breakout year. He made 75 tackles last year and had a strong spring. He plays the weak and strong sides.

    "He's a dependable guy," Spangler said. "Hopefully what we're going to see him do is continue to build and make more plays."

    Cole, a junior, earned All-WAC first-team honors last year. He racked up 93 tackles and forced two fumbles as the middle linebacker. He's getting stiff competition from sophomore Solomon Randle (5-11, 235).

    "[Cole] has got great instincts, he's smart ... he just makes plays," Spangler said. "He has a good nose for the football and can get off blocks. He just got better as the year went on."

    Calais, a senior, is a safety/linebacker hybrid. He plays weak-side linebacker in the base defense and safety in the nickel package.

    He made 77 tackles and two interceptions last year.

    Other potential contributors at linebacker include freshman Rufus Porter (6-1, 215), junior Dusty Rust (6-3, 220) and senior Kiamni Washington (6-1, 235).

    Calais and sophomore Chad Boyd (5-10, 190) play strong safety. Boyd started four games last year as a true freshman, forcing a fumble and breaking up two passes.

    At free safety, sophomore C.J. Broades (6-1, 205) will compete with sophomore Javontay Crowe (5-11, 190). Broades burned his red-shirt in early November when starter Antonio Baker suffered a broken leg. He made 10 tackles in his debut against Boise State. Crowe barely played last year.

    Boyd and Broades, neither of whom played a full season last year, remain inexperienced.

    "They were just making freshman mistakes [last year]," Spangler said. "It's almost like you've got to push past all that before you've got a chance to get better. At the time, I didn't really like that they had to play, but where I sit right now I'm glad they did. I think they'll get better. They've got a chance to be around for a long time. And that's how you get good, and that's how you sell other recruits on your school."

    Senior cornerback Josh Victorian (5-10, 185) had a terrific spring, building on a strong finish to last season. He started five games in 2009 and picked off three passes, returning one 75 yards for a key touchdown against Boise State.

    "He's improved, he's developed, he's matured -- heck, sometimes for guys it takes that long," Spangler said. "He knows it's his last go-round. He knows this is it for him. He's focused. He's dialed in. He's really paying attention to the details of his assignment and technique."

    Junior Terry Carter (5-10, 185) is a returning starter at cornerback. He finished with 45 tackles and four pass breakups despite limited playing time during the second half of the season because of a hamstring injury.

    "He had some good games and he had some average games," Spangler said. "What I'm hoping is last year was a great learning experience. He's getting smarter in how to play and what to look for. His work demeanor has been better than it's ever been. His focus has been better than it's ever been."

    Senior Olajuwon Paige (5-9, 185) is the third cornerback. He started four games last year.
  4. dubb40

    dubb40 Sideline Football, We Rock!

    Jul 26, 2010
    Season Analysis


    The Bulldogs won the Independence Bowl in 2008 and last year's 4-8 record included five straight losses by a total of 23 points. Four of the opponents during that streak played in bowl games. Throw in 16 returning starters and the potential for an offensive outbreak under Douglas, and it's understandable why many consider Louisiana Tech a dark horse in the WAC race this year.

    Still, this program has been long on potential and short on results since winning the WAC in 2001. The Bulldogs have won eight games just once in the 2000s (2008).

    The schedule is unusually reasonable this year -- Boise State is the only Top 25 team, and Texas A&M is the only non-conference road opponent. Plus, most of the WAC contenders travel to Ruston.

    But the Bulldogs' success likely will hinge on fixing a long-standing problem at quarterback. They'll be able to run the ball and they should be stout defensively, but it takes points to win in the WAC, and Franklin runs a pass-first attack.

    "The bottom line is we won four games [last year] -- that statistic was bad," Spangler said. "What we've got to do is finish some games. We had a chance in four or five ballgames where late in the game we had the opportunity to win and didn't. Where the year before we did, this past year we did not."
  5. trustandfall

    trustandfall Walk On

    Jul 26, 2010
    That is one deep write-up... Nice work. Looking forward to seeing what you can do with LA Tech... Expectations for your school seem about as high as mine! We're both under alot of pressure to win games.
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