2013 Louisiana Tech Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 28, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldog Offense


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Louisiana Tech Preview | 2013 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2013 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2013 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Offensive architect Sonny Dykes? Coaching Cal. Prolific QB Colby Cameron? Out of eligibility. Top two receivers and four starting linemen? Gone. Louisiana Tech may have led the nation in scoring and total offense in 2012, but 2013 will bring an unusual number of challenges to a new coaching staff. Helping in the transition will be coordinator Tony Petersen, who knows his way around Conference USA, and who wants to maintain the Bulldogs’ attacking demeanor. The likely successor to Cameron will be Scotty Young, a former four-star recruit of Texas Tech looking to rescue his career in Ruston. His most reliable targets will be D.J. Banks and Hunter Lee, though LSU transfer Paul Turner is hoping to be eligible for the 2013 season. The one constant on offense will be RB Kenneth Dixon, the precocious sophomore who rushed for 27 touchdowns and almost 1,200 yards as a rookie. RB Tevin King, the starter when last season began, is still recovering from an ACL tear that cut him down following a spectacular start to his career.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Zach Griffith
3-6, 31 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: Kenneth Dixon
200 carries, 1,194 yds, 27 TDs
Receiving: D.J. Banks
33 catches, 434 yds, 2 TDs

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Kenneth Dixon
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Scotty Young
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Paul Turner
Best pro prospect: Dixon
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dixon, 2) Senior WR D.J. Banks, 3) Junior OL Matt Shepperd
Strength of the offense: Backfield depth, protecting the ball
Weakness of the offense: Inexperienced quarterback, dearth of proven receivers, rebuilt O-line

Quarterbacks

Few quarterbacks leave bigger shoes to fill than Colby Cameron, who ranked No. 3 in the FBS in total offense last year. Despite very limited experience, junior Scotty Young believes he’s up to the challenge. The former four-star, highly-touted recruit of Texas Tech sat out last season, and is poised to hit the ground running in his Ruston debut. The 6-2, 210-pounder has a terrific arm, sees the field well and might actually have more physical upside than his predecessor.

Young is currently being tailed by 6-1, 196-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Higgins. The two-star Bulldog from the 2012 class is the best athlete among the quarterbacks, and showed a knack for the deep ball in the spring. He looks to have a bright future, though reps could be hard to come by this fall.

Watch Out For .... Young to become increasingly comfortable in Tony Petersen’s system. The quarterback has been around a lot of different coaches and playbooks since leaving Denton, Tex., but he’s a smart athlete who’s eager for his first chance to start at the FBS level. He’ll be even further along by the time the Bulldogs start summer camp.
Strength: Upside potential. With the new Louisiana Tech hurlers, it’s all about what’s ahead rather than what’s in the rear view mirror. Young was a coveted triggerman just three years ago, while Higgins acquitted himself quite well in his maiden spring as a Bulldog.
Weakness: Proven passers. Young and Higgins have one thing in common entering 2013—neither player has thrown a pass in a college game. Early mistakes and a steep learning curve are inevitable, as Louisiana Tech begins a new era, with its system and with the inexperienced quarterback who’ll be operating it.
Outlook: Young left Lubbock for this moment, a chance to finally showcase his right arm after being in dry dock for three years. His physical talent is undeniable, but he’ll still have to prove that those skills will translate into success on the field. It promises to be an interesting year in Ruston, as Louisiana Tech unveils a new era behind center.
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

The Bulldogs are going to be green at plenty of positions this season. Running back, though, will not be one of them. With proper support from the blockers, Tech is liable to be dynamite on the ground in 2012, music to the ears of new head coach Skip Holtz. Sophomore Tevin King exploded out of the gates as a rookie last season, rushing for 369 yards and five touchdowns on his first 46 carries. However, in Week 3 versus Illinois, he tore his ACL, a severe injury that’ll keep him from absorbing contact again until the summer. Prior to getting hurt, the 5-7, 170-pound King was the kind of elusive jackrabbit who could make people miss in space, and beat them in a race to the end zone.

The upshot of King’s misfortune is that it created an opportunity for another freshman, first-year Kenneth Dixon of Strong, Ark. The poster child for “next man in” wasn’t even listed on the depth chart for the opener, yet more than made up for the humble beginning. He wound up rushing for 1,194 yards on 200 carries, and accounting for an NCAA freshman-record 28 overall touchdowns. The 6-0, 215-pound Dixon runs tough and with a low center of gravity, causing opposing defenders to bounce off his pads near the goal line. He’s built to be a workhorse, with King serving as an ideal change-of-pace, especially in obvious passing situations.

With King sitting out the spring, 5-11, 215-pound junior Marlon Seets and 5-11, 195-pound sophomore Blake Martin earned valuable reps with the offense. Seets is a pounder like Dixon, who began his career at Alcorn State. Martin is more similar to King, a shifty runner who can also contribute in the passing game.

Watch Out For .... the health of King’s knee. While it was fortunate that he went down early in 2012, the injury was serious enough that the program is taking his rehab slowly. There’s no telling how the sophomore will react once he starts cutting and absorbing contact for the first time since going under the knife.
Strength: A bona fide feature back. In Dixon, the Bulldogs have found a young runner it can build an offense around. He’s tireless, physical and surprisingly consistent for such a young player. Best of all, he figures to be even more consistent and prolific now that he has that rookie year tucked away in the history books.
Weakness: Proven depth. Okay, so maybe King goes on to make this notion appear silly by October. For now, though, that knee is a liability until proven otherwise. And behind Dixon are a couple of running backs who combined for exactly zero carries a season ago.
Outlook: The Louisiana Tech backfield is good as it stands right now with Dixon. It becomes very good—and very diverse—if King is able to approach his pre-injury form of last September. Either way, the Bulldogs know that they have the necessary horses to balance out the passing attack with some hard-nosed between-the-tackles running.
Rating: 8

Receivers

Few areas of the Bulldogs’ roster were unaffected by drastic turnover. Last season’s top two receivers, all-stars Quinton Patton and Myles White, have both used up their eligibility, leaving WR D.J. Banks as the veteran of the corps. The one-time Tulane transfer was third in receiving a year ago, catching 33 balls for 434 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-9, 185-pounder is primed to step to the forefront in his senior, using his quickness, savvy and sure-hands to support a passing attack that’s breaking in a new man behind center.

Tech is eager to unleash sophomore Paul Turner, but isn’t exactly sure when he’ll be eligible to play. The 5-11, 186-pound LSU transfer has appealed to play immediately, but has yet to get a definitive word from the NCAA. He did, however, participate in spring practice, looking very much like a former SEC talent going up against mid-major defensive backs.

At “Y”, an inside receiver, will be senior Jon Greenwalt. He contributed in his debut out of Riverside (Calif.) Community College, making 24 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. And at 6-3 and 200 pounds, he has the size and the strength to gain position on opposing defenders.

The Bulldogs like to employ an “H” receiver on the inside, a role that’ll be handled by versatile junior Hunter Lee, a former walk-on. The 5-10, 200-pound hybrid caught 31 passes for 398 yards and two scores, while adding 162 yards and three more touchdowns on 31 carries. He’s tough and physical, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to support this program.

Behind Lee are a couple of seniors, with six combined letters at the program, 5-10, 180-pound Andrew Guillot and 5-10, 190-pound Lyle Fitte. Guillot begins his sixth year with the program as a reliable, blue-collar target who caught 19 passes for 174 yards in 2012.

Senior Richie Casey, another sixth-year Bulldog, will wind up being an important part of the passing game if Turner isn’t eligible to play in 2013. He’ll quickly get promoted into a starting role, a year after catching 14 balls for 119 yards. Casey proved in 2010 that he’s capable of handling an expanded role, making a career-high 42 grabs for 432 yards and three touchdowns.

Watch Out For .... Lee to be very popular for the new quarterback. As Scotty Young adapts to his role as the starter, he’ll take comfort in hooking up with the strong and reliable hands of No. 36. Lee doesn’t drop many throws, making him an ideal safety valve when the outside guys are blanketed.
Strength: Blue-collar athletes. The Bulldogs corps of receivers will be comprised of a number of hard-working veterans, like Banks, Lee, Guillot and Casey. No, it’s not a particularly sexy group now that Patton and White have departed, but it’s one that likely won’t be outworked.
Weakness: Playmakers. Turner has a chance to alter the dynamic if he gets the green light, but that’s a lot of pressure on a player who hasn’t accomplished anything yet at this level. Even Banks, the most reliable of the receivers, isn’t the kind of weapon who’ll consistency torch a secondary by getting behind it.
Outlook: Tech will be regrouping at wide receiver now that Patton is a San Francisco 49er and White is attempting to make the Green Bay Packers roster. Most of the receivers, including Banks, are pedestrian, which is why the fate of Turner is so important to the 2013 offense. The Bulldogs really need a player of his pedigree to make things happen on the outside.
Rating: 5

Offensive Line

No unit embodies the rebuilding done in Ruston more than the O-line. Louisiana Tech graduated four seniors, all of whom were named First or Second Team All-WAC in 2012. Okay, it was the WAC, but four starters are four starters, plus OT Jordan Mills was drafted by the Chicago Bears. The lone holdover from the lineup, 6-3, 305-pound junior Matt Shepperd missed the spring to rehab an injury. When he returns, he’ll either play right guard, last year’s position, or center.

Shepperd’s final destination could depend on the play of senior Alec Davis, the team’s starting center in the spring. The second-year transfer from Orange Coast (Calif.) Junior College appeared in just two games last year, and at only 6-1 and 275 pounds, could be a liability at the point of attack.

If Shepperd displaces Davis at the pivot, it’ll create an opening for 6-4, 297-pound Richard Greenwalt at right guard. The junior enjoyed a successful two-year career at Riverside (Calif.) Community College, before redshirting in Ruston last fall.

Unlike the right side, left guard appears to be set with 6-4, 300-pound Larry Banks. The senior is ready to deliver his best season as a Bulldog. In his first year out of Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College he suffered a season-ending injury, but bounced back in 2012 to start four games.

At left tackle, 6-5, 290-pound junior Jens Danielsen is holding a lead on massive, 6-4, 330-pound junior Mitchell Bell. Danielsen is set to make his debut out of Coffeyville (Kans.) Community College. His footwork and agility have made him a better fit in pass protection than the lumbering Bell, who spent his last three years at Navarro (Tex.) Junior College.

The battle at right tackle is pitting 6-3, 300-pound senior Jeremy Graffree against 6-5, 275-pound redshirt freshman Darrell Brown. The program is thrilled to be getting back Graffree, who missed all of last year with an Achilles injury. Brown needs reps and more weight, but has been coming on very strong during the offseason.

Watch Out For .... a match to be taken to the post-spring depth chart. The document gave a soft representation of a pecking order, but this is clearly going to be a fluid process that extends deep into the summer. Not only will the competition be opened up in August, but the whereabouts of Shepperd still hasn’t been set in stone.
Strength: The predecessors. Okay, so Mills and Oscar Johnson and the rest of the vets are gone, but their lessons on how to prepare for Saturday remain in Ruston. The returners may be light on experience, but being in the same locker room with a group that dominated throughout 2012 will pay dividends this year.
Weakness: Proven players. There’s Shepperd and, well, a lot of former junior-college transfers with limited experience at this level. Not only did Louisiana Tech lose 147 career O-line starts, but it’s going to be impossible for the rebuilt unit to develop any chemistry and cohesiveness until at least the second-half of the year.
Outlook: Forget the new quarterback. Forget the losses of last year’s top two receivers. Louisiana Tech’s ability to maintain a high level of offensive potency hinges on the play of a reshuffled line. Not only are the Bulldogs inserting four new starters into the lineup, but the level of in-conference play will be higher than it was in the WAC last fall. The drop-off is inevitable, but by how much will dictate the fate of the ground game and the passing attack.
Rating: 5
 
- 2013 Louisiana Tech Preview | 2013 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2013 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2013 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart