#96 Louisiana Tech Football 2014 Preview

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #96
#6 Conference USA

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Coach Skip Holtz had a rough go of it during his first season with Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs offense could not get anything going early in the year and started 1-4 with their lone win coming against Lamar. That stretch included losses to Tulane and Army. But they did look much better in their next four games, winning three. But then it was back to their old inefficient September ways. Louisiana Tech was outscored 106-38 in their last three contests against Rice, Tulsa and Texas-San Antonio.

2013 Record: (4-8, 3-5)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Skip Holtz (4-8 at Louisiana Tech, 92-79 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Petersen
Defensive Coordinator: Manny Diaz

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kenneth Dixon, RB, 917 yards
Passing: Ryan Higgins, QB, 1,715 yards
Receiving: Sterling Griffin, WR, 357 yards
Tackles: Thomas McDonald, S, 70
Sacks: Vontarrius Dora, DL, 2.5
Interceptions: Adairius Barnes, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: OT Mitchell Bell, RB Tevin King, DB Xavier Woods, DB Kentrell Brice, K Kyle Fischer

Key Losses: LB Daniel Cobb, DE IK Enemkpali, DT Justin Ellis, QB Scotty Young, WR Andrew Guillot, OL Matt Shepperd

If Louisiana Tech is going to compete for bowl eligibility, it will be on the shoulders of the defense. Despite losing three key linemen, including NFL draft picks Justin Ellis and IK Enemkpali, the Bulldogs defense returns plenty of talent and experience. It is in the secondary where most of the experience returns. Thomas McDonald, Terrell Pinson, Le’Vander Liggins and Adairius Barnes are all upperclassmen and returning starters in the secondary. But perhaps the biggest change to the defense is on the sidelines where Manny Diaz takes over as coordinator. Diaz is very good at implementing blitz packages that throw the opposition off balance. Even with few proven options on the line, Diaz should be able to increase the Bulldogs sack total and that will help out the defense on every level.

After splitting time with Scotty Young under center last season, this is now Ryan Higgins team to lead…for better or worse. Higgins, a 6-2 sophomore, threw for 1,715 yards in 2013, but his six touchdowns and 13 interceptions are a concern. Numbers like that are understandable for a freshman, yet his decision making, especially in the red zone, must improve. Sterling Griffin is basically all that remains among Higgins’ top targets, yet LSU transfer Paul Turner is now in the mix. The ground game is actually pretty good, although underutilized last season. Kenneth Dixon led the way with 917 yards and Tevin King added 539 yards. Both averaged about six yards per carry and both are capable of breaking big runs. However, a revamped offensive line will likely hinder that average at first.

The Bottom Line:
The key for Louisiana Tech will be consistency. With four tough road games in August and September, the Bulldogs will be playing catch up right out of the gate. By the time they hit the heart of their conference slate, the Bulldogs will need to have developed that consistency and have filled in their gaps on both lines to have any chance of reaching six wins and getting back to a bowl game.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 160.2 (73rd in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 206.0 (97, 7)
Total Offense: 366.2 (94, 8)
Scoring Offense: 19.2 (111, 11)
Rushing Defense: 194.8 (91, 7)
Pass Defense: 213.5 (31, 6)
Total Defense: 408.3 (69, 8)
Scoring Defense: 26.3 (61, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.3 (79, 7)
Sacks:  1.92 (71, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.50 (93, 10)


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