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2012 Louisiana Tech Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 23, 2012


CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldog Offense


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2012 - Offense

- 2012 Louisiana Tech Preview | 2012 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2012 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2012 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: When is all the fun going to begin? Sonny Dykes was supposed to step in and blow up the WAC with a high-octane passing attack and lots and lots of yards. It could be this season thanks to a terrific receiving corps led by Quinton Patton, a legitimate All-America candidate who could push for 100 catches is the quarterback play is a little bit stronger. Colby Cameron is a good veteran passer who’ll get plenty of time to work behind a veteran line that gets four starters back. The offense will get just enough of a running game to get by, but with this receiving corps and with Cameron’s experience, the passing game will start to shine even more.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Colby Cameron
118-215, 1,667 yds, 13 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Hunter Lee
135 carries, 650 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Quinton Patton
79 catches, 1,202 yds, 11 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Quinton Patton
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore RB Hunter Lee
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore QB Zach Griffith
Best pro prospect: Patton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Patton, 2) C Stephen Warner, 3) OT Oscar Johnson
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Line
Weakness of the offense: Running Backs, Line Depth

Quarterbacks

A part-time starter before the start of last year, senior Colby Cameron ended up taking over to try to provide a spark to the offense halfway through the season and he came through completing 55% of his passes for 1,667 yards and 13 scores with just three picks. A decent runner, he also finished third on the team with 180 yards. At 6-2 and 205 pounds he has decent enough size and a good enough arm to get by, and he knows how to move a passing attack throwing for close to 5,000 yards with 47 touchdown passes in his last two seasons of high school ball. Last year he lit up Fresno State for 376 yards and four scores and came up with his best performance in the huge win over Nevada throwing for 355 yards and three touchdowns with no picks.

With Nick Isham transferring, 6-3, 185-pound sophomore Zach Griffith will be the No. 2 option and he appears ready. A big-time performer this offseason, the former transfer from Fullerton College is a solid passer with excellent athleticism for the position. He finished off spring ball connecting on 38-of-44 passes for 419 yards and three scores in the spring game looking very, very sharp.

Looking to potentially be the main man for the future is new recruit Ryan Higgins, a three-star prospect who isn’t all that big at 6-1 and 196 pounds, but is a decent dual threat option. While he doesn’t have a huge arm, he’s a baller who’s good on the move.

Watch Out For … Griffith. He’s not going to take over the starting job from Cameron, but he looked more than ready to step in if he has to. The Bulldogs found their quarterback for the next few years when Cameron is done.
Strength: The offense. While Tech doesn’t wing it around the yard like Texas Tech does, the passing game is the main mode of transportation and Cameron or Griffith should be able to crank out at least 250 yards per game in the four-wide attack.
Weakness: Sure-thing backups. Yeah, Griffith looked the part this spring, especially in the spring game, but he has yet to do anything in live action. Cameron might be the starter and he might have been strong over the second half of last year, but there was a reason he didn’t get the starting nod at the beginning of last year. He’s a good player, but he’s not an elite talent.
Outlook: With Nick Isham transferring after the writing was on the wall with the starting job not going to be his, the depth is a little thin and it’s likely Griffith or bust for the near future. However, Cameron proved himself last year and the passing game should be more than solid with a veteran line to work behind and a strong receiving corps to help pick up the slack.
Unit Rating: 6

Running Backs

Lennon Creer was good, but he didn’t blow up like he was expected to before getting hurt late in the year. Former walk-on Hunter Lee stepped in as a true freshman and produced finishing second on the team with 650 yards and five scores with 127 yards against Ole Miss and 148 yards and three scores against New Mexico State. At 5-10 and 200 pounds he has decent size and enough quickness to get through the line in a hurry, and he can catch a bit with 13 grabs for 126 yards. He’s not going to be a workhorse, but he has shown he can handle himself if needed to get the ball 20 times a game.

5-9, 200-pound senior Ray Holley was supposed to be a part of the rotation but suffered a back injury early on and only ended up running for 144 yards and four scores in four games. The former JUCO transfer from Orange Coast College is quick and brings a little bit of power, and now he’s healthy enough to be a true No. 2 back in the rotation.

Can Lyle Fitte make it back? The 5-9, 190-pound speedster didn’t get too much work running just 12 times for 81 yards, but he was phenomenal on kickoff returns averaging 26.1 yards per try. However, he suffered a knee injury halfway through the season and was out the rest of the way. If he’s right he has the potential to bring some much-needed flash to the running game.

Watch Out For … the true freshmen. Holley is fine, but he’s coming off an injury and Fitte can’t be counted on to handle the ball too much. Depth is a problem meaning 6-0, 211-pound Kenneth Dixon and 5-7, 160-pound speedster Tevin King might have to be ready to roll out of the box.
Strength: The passing game. The running backs will get work and don’t get ignored in the attack, but the Bulldogs are going to move the ball through the air. The pressure isn’t there to carry the attack.
Weakness: Depth. Holley and Fitte were hurt and it’s never a plus to have to rely on true freshmen to do anything. It could be scrambling time if Lee isn’t terrific.
Outlook: Lee got a scholarship this offseason and now will get more than enough work to earn it. He proved he could handle the load late in the year, but he needs to be great for 12 games while the coaching staff hopes Holley can hold up. However, even though the backs are average, the rushing production should turn out to be solid with the quarterbacks contributing.
Unit Rating: 5

Receivers

The potential is there for the receiving corps to be one of the team’s biggest strengths with a veteran crew led by the return of Quinton Patton. Coming off a great spring last year with rave reviews from the coaching staff, the 6-1, 195-pound former JUCO transfer blew up at the Z finishing with a team-leading 79 catches for 1,202 yards and 11 scores with a 211-yard day against Central Arkansas, 11 catches against Mississippi State and a seven-catch, 162-yard, one touchdown day against Nevada. The first-team All-WAC performer is a complete performer with speed, hands and great route running ability. He’s the team’s gamebreaker with WAC Player of the Year potential.

Back in a starting spot is 6-1, 185-pound senior Myles White, a top JUCO signing after starting his career at Michigan. Lightning fast, he can be used at the outside X as a field-stretcher or at the Y after finishing third on the team with 30 catches for 414 yards and three scores, coming up with a big 110-yard day against TCU and hitting Fresno State for 130 yards and a score on just two catches. He’ll combine at the Y with veteran David Gru, a 6-0, 185-pound senior who came in from Ventura CC and finished fourth on the team with 26 catches for 339 yards and a score. Quick, he’s able to find the holes in the defense.

5-10, 180-pound senior Andrew Guillot is a former walk-on who’s trying to come back healthy after suffering a knee injury and missing time late in the season. He caught 12 passes for 118yards and worked as a punt returner averaging 12 yards per pop. He’ll work at the H spot if he can come back healthy, while sophomore D.J. St. Julien is a 6-0, 185-pound speedster who has the raw wheels to be a deep threat or could work at the Z or behind Guillot at the H. However, 6-0, 210-pound senior Malon Lee will start out the year working at the H after making two catches for 11 yards after coming in from Fullerton CC.

Looking to stretch the field at the X is junior Jacarri Jackson, a 6-2, 185-pound flash who only caught six passes for 62 yards but has all the skills and upside to be a dangerous deep option. He’ll see plenty of single coverage and needs to take advantage, while 5-9, 185-pound junior D.J. Banks is ready to go after starting out his career at Tulane. He had to sit out last season after catching 47 passes for 419 yards and three scores for the Green Wave and working on kickoff returns. He has the speed and athleticism to be used in a variety of ways.

Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Jon Greenwalt. The 6-3, 200-pounder was a big-play producer for Riverside CC who’ll be a major factor somewhere in the corps. An elite athlete, he should combine his leaping ability and size to be a matchup nightmare.
Strength: Experience. Second-leading receiver Taulib Ikharo is gone, but Patton, White and Gru are terrific and Jackson is about to shine. The Bulldogs will have no problems producing with this receiving corps.
Weakness: Proven depth. It’s nitpicking, but the backups need to show they can do more. Banks, Lee and St. Julien have skills, but they need to be ready to do more in the rotation.
Outlook: The receiving corps should be the best in the WAC by far mainly because of Patton. The quarterbacking will be just good enough to get by, but it’s not going to be elite, which could end up limiting the receivers’ potential. Even so, this could be the team’s biggest strength by far and it should be a terrific group.
Unit Rating: 7

Offensive Line

The offensive line was good enough to win the WAC, and now it’s full of experience and talent. It should be a rock starting with 6-6, 350-pound mammoth Oscar Johnson at left tackle. The former right guard came over from the JUCO ranks and was a blaster for the ground game. While he’s not quick and he’s just average in pass protection he’s tough to get around.

Senior Kevin Saia is back after starting the last 28 games at left guard. Extremely strong, he’s built to power away for the running game and is ultra-steady and consistent. At 6-2 and 305 pounds he’s not massive, but he’s big enough.

On the other side is the lone new starter, junior Matthew Shepperd. The 6-3, 305-pound veteran backup worked at center to start last year before moving over to left guard. While he can play anywhere in the interior, he’ll have the right guard job all to himself, but 6-4, 300-pound redshirt freshman Josh Robinson is a good prospect who’ll see work in the rotation and potentially at left guard.

Back at center is senior Stephen Warner, a 25-game starter in the middle after moving over from right guard early in his career. The first-team All-WAC performer is the leader of the line and is smart enough and experienced enough to do the pre-snap cadence instead of the quarterback. The former walk-on has grown into the job and is a lock for all-star honors again.

6-6, 315-pound junior Jordan Mills started all 13 games at right tackle and now should grow into a possible all-star. He’s merely okay in pass protection but he’s strong, tough and good at blasting away on his man for the ground game. When he gets his hands on a defender, it’s over.

On the way is 6-4, 297-pound guard Richard Greenwalt, a JUCO transfer from Riverside CC and the brother of receiver, Jon. He’s a decent prospect, but he’s not the talent his brother is, and can step in at either guard spot from the word go. Watch Out For … The right guard job. It’s the lone opening on the line and Sheppard will have the spotlight on. He doesn’t have to be an all-star, but he has to be able to hold his own in the ground game.
Strength: Experience. This was a promising group coming into last year, and now four starters return for what should be a cohesive and productive line. Warner is a star and Johnson is a terrific veteran to lead the way.
Weakness: Quickness. There’s lots of size and lots of experience, the front five isn’t going to move all that much. The pass protection is just mediocre; it’s a better line when it gets to blast away.
Outlook: The line should be a major plus after working to move things together and patch things up next year. With Johnson and Mills at tackle the Bulldogs are huge on the outside and talented in the middle. This has the potential to be the best line in the WAC by far, but the depth could be a concern. There will be problems if injuries hit.
Unit Rating: 6.5
 
- 2012 Louisiana Tech Preview | 2012 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2012 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2012 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart