#68 Louisiana Tech Football 2015 Preview

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #68
#3 Conference USA

Louisiana Tech Team Page

#68 Louisiana Tech Football 2015 Preview

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Louisiana Tech was a surprise team in Conference USA. Just a year after going 4-8 overall, the Bulldogs cruised through the West Division with a 7-1 record. They lost in the championship game to Marshall, but followed it up with a nice 35-18 bowl win over Illinois. Coach Skip Holtz has done some nice things with this program in a short amount of time and now it is time to build off of their first bowl win since 2008.

2014 Record: 9-5, 7-1
2014 Bowl: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Illinois (W 35-18)
Coach: Skip Holtz (13-13 at Louisiana Tech, 101-84 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Petersen
Defensive Coordinator: Blake Baker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kenneth Dixon, RB, 1,299 yards
Passing: Ryan Higgins, QB, 69 yards
Receiving: Trent Taylor, WR, 834 yards
Tackles: Kentrell Brice, S, 86
Sacks: Vontarrius Dora, DE, 4.0; Kentrell Brice, S, 4.0
Interceptions: Xavier Woods, S, 6

Other Key Returnees: RB Jarred Craft, WR Carlos Henderson, WR Paul Turner, OL Kirby Wixson, DT Vernon Butler, CB Adairius Barnes

Key Losses: QB Cody Sokol, DE Houston Bates, LB Tony Johnson, DB Le’Vander Liggins, LB Terrell Pinson, LB Mitch Villemez

Louisiana Tech’s defense recorded 42 takeaways, which was the most in the FBS. Numbers like that are difficult to replicate, but the system is in place for Louisiana Tech to once again give opposing offensive coordinators nightmares. The secondary is absolutely loaded with talent. Xavier Woods intercepted six passes last year and will be joined by fellow safety Kentrell Brice, who led the team with 86 tackles. Adairius Barnes is a well-tested cornerback and Bryson Abraham is more than ready to step into a full-time starting role at the other corner spot. The front four is experienced, led by tackle Vernon Butler and end Vontarrius Dora, but there are questions at linebacker. Nick Thomason, if healthy, is expected to step into the middle linebacker spot and he will be asked to do a lot for this team.

It is hard to call an offense with running back Kenneth Dixon a weakness, but with a new quarterback comes new concerns. Dixon is a beast of a back and rushed for 1,299 yards and 22 touchdowns last year. With just Dixon this would be a good offense. It has the potential to be great if Jeff Driskel can live up to his hype. Driskel will replace Cody Sokol, who played one year for Louisiana Tech as a graduate transfer. Sokol was a big surprise, throwing for 3,436 yards and 30 touchdowns. Driskel enters the program with a lot more hype after his up and down career at Florida. He does have all of the tools to be a great quarterback and can run a lot more effectively than Sokol, but it remains to be seen if a change of scenery will help the former top recruit reach his potential.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, the offense should be fine even if Driskel remains inconsistent. He does not have to do everything for a team that has Dixon in the backfield and a few quality receiving targets in Trent Taylor, Paul Turner and Carlos Henderson. If the offense can stay on par with last season, even a drop in turnovers from the defense will keep Louisiana Tech on the top of the Conference USA West pecking order. A Thursday night game in week two of the season at Western Kentucky will be a huge game and perhaps a preview of the conference championship game.

Projected Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 148.6 (85th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 252.2 (45, 4)
Total Offense: 400.8 (62, 5)
Scoring Offense: 37.4 (13, 3)
Rushing Defense: 118.2 (17, 1)
Pass Defense: 244.3 (88, 10)
Total Defense: 362.5 (34, 2)
Scoring Defense: 24.7 (38, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.14 (5, 1)
Sacks: 2.71 (26, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.36 (21, 2)


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