Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Louisiana Tech Overview

Who2005 writes:
September 2, 2006. That is the date that will be the start of the next chapter for Husker football. That is the first game of the season and it is against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The last time these two teams faced off was August 29, 1998. And that day the Huskers came away with a win, but made then QB Tim Rattay and WR Troy Edwards look like football gods. Rattay threw for over 500 yards, 590 yards to be exact. Edwards was the recipient of that passing fancy for 21 receptions for 405 yards. This time around, however, it will be a lot different.

Tech finished last season at 7-4, averaged 147 yards on the ground, 219 yards in the air on offense. The defense picked up last year allowing an average of 133 rushing yards, and 248 passing yards. While this may not win any national championships, it was a huge improvement for the Bulldogs. But that was last season.

On offense, the Bulldogs are going to start a brand new QB. All of the QBs on the roster have a total of eight pass attempts between them on the I-A level. It looks as if Jr Zac Champion will be the starting QB when the Bulldogs come to Lincoln. So that means they will need to rely more on a running attack as Champion gets up to speed. But that is the strength of this team. They return junior Freddie Franklin and Patrick Jackson. They also have a star recruit in Michael Griffin, who by the way turned down Nebraska to go to Tech. The O Line looks to open the holes. The receiving corp is seasoned, but has bouts of inconsistency. Senior receivers Eric Newman and Jonathan Holland will help in the passing game. In all, Tech returns 6 players on the offense and will likely continue to try and grind it out on the ground until Champion, or one of the other QBs, gets in step with the receivers.

The defense did improve the last year, but is the huge question mark on the team this year. They return only 2 starters. Tech runs a 3-4 defense and only have 1 returning LB from the front seven. This could be a problem in the early stages of the year for Tech. Coaches have been rotating in new players and they brought in JUCOs to help get through the gap. The secondary only returns safety Dez Abrams, who had 52 tackles (30 solo). However, coaches seem to give the impression to the local papers that the secondary will be fine. With only 2 starters that return, there may be more time that is needed to gel as a unit and work together. The defense may hit strides together before their conference schedule begins, but more than likely not before the season opener in Lincoln.

Special teams has a little better luck with returning players. Junior Danny Horwedel returns as the place kicker and was 18-26 in field goals last year. Sophomore punter Chris Keagle returns to punt duty, however that may be bad news to the Bulldogs if he can not improve on the 37.4 yards per punt average. If that continues, then the Bulldog D will have more of a challenge. Returning kickoffs will be the former RB Weldon Brown and punts will be handled by Freddie Franklin. Tech did do a great job on kickoff returns last year averaging 23.2 yards per kickoff return, which ranked them 19 in the country in that category.

This year Tech has a few intangibles working for them, and against them. Last year they ended the season by racking up 40 points in a victory over Fresno State. That gave them good momentum. Then came the bad news. This team finished with a 7-4 record, but they were not invited to any bowl. That has to anger up the blood. They are a young team and no one expects them to do anything, so they may shock people. Coach Bicknell has made practices a very serious affair and has been very vocal when he sees something he does not like. To add to all of that, one of the most famous alumni, Terry Bradshaw, returned for a little ceremony at the campus. And when it is possible to have a legend come talk to the team, it can make a major impact. Tech is sure to ride the emotional roller coaster this year.

So what does this mean for the Huskers? If Callahan is serious about the run game, this is the best time to prove it. A 3-4 defense, almost all new starters on D is like an open invitation to the end zone via the feet of Lucky, Glenn and Wilson. Passing should not be a problem either. The Husker OLine should be able to give Taylor enough time. The Blackshirts will have to watch the pass, but will likely be confronted with the run more times than not. There should be plenty of opportunities to get in the backfield and the secondary will have a chance to get more "on the job" training. And since Darth did a fabulous job breaking down the Huskers, there is no need to repeat it. This should be a win, but let's not out coach ourselves for this one. (You listening Cosgrove?)

La Tech 2005 Stats
Record: 7-4

Offensive rankings:
Rushing: 53rd (147.6 ypg)
Passing: 66th (219.1 ypg)
Scoring: 46th (28.73 ppg)
Total : 63rd (366.7 ypg)

Defensive rankings:
Rushing: 37th (133.2 ypg)
Passing: 86th (248.1 ypg)
Scoring: 58th (25.50 ppg)
Total : 66th (381.3 ypg)

Posted by Who2005 @ Wednesday, August 16, 2006 ||

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