2008 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview
Louisiana Tech RB Patrick Jackson
Louisiana Tech RB Patrick Jackson
Posted Apr 30, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

2008 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview | 2008 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2008 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2008 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview | 2006 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview 

Head coach: Derek Dooley
2nd year: 5-7
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 15, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Tech Players
1. LB Quin Harris, Sr.
2. FS Antonio Baker, Jr.
3. RB/KR Patrick Jackson, Sr.
4. LB Brannon Jackson, Sr.
5. WR/PR Phillip Livas, Soph.
6. CB Weldon Brown, Sr.
7. P Chris Keagle, Sr.
8. RB Daniel Porter, Jr.
9. TE Dennis Morris, Jr.
10. SS Deon Young, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Mississippi State
Sept. 9 at Kansas
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 SE Louisiana
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 1 at Boise State
Oct. 11 at Hawaii
Oct. 18 Idaho
Oct. 25 at Army
Nov. 1 Fresno State
Nov. 8 at San Jose State
Nov. 15 Utah State
Nov. 22 at New Mexico State
Nov. 29 Nevada

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 Central Ark W 28-7
Sept. 8 Hawaii L 45-44 OT
Sept. 15 at California L 42-12
Sept. 29 at Fresno State L 17-6
Oct. 6 at Ole Miss L 24-0
Oct. 13 N Mexico St
W 22-21
Oct. 20 Boise State L 45-31
Oct. 27
at Utah State W 31-21
Nov. 3 at Idaho W 28-16
Nov. 10 at LSU L 58-10
Nov. 17 San Jose St W 27-23
Dec. 1 Nevada L 49-10

Louisiana Tech has been solid for decades, and rarely awful. 2006 was one of those lousy dips, but Derek Dooley changed things around in his first year at the helm.

There wasn't enough firepower to keep up with the high-octane WAC offenses, but the Bulldogs pushed Hawaii in 45-44 overtime loss and was respectable in a loss to Boise State. After a 1-4 start, with the only win coming against Central Arkansas, Tech managed to turn things around by winning four of its final seven games, and now the program is about to make a big leap up.

Nowhere near the discussion of WAC title contenders with Fresno State the likely favorite, and Boise State and Nevada certain to be solid, but with 13 starters returning, not including stud MLB Brannan Jackson, a star in 2006 who missed last year with a knee injury, and JUCO transfers on the way to provide a big boost in several spots, this could be the sleeper team to watch out for.

Overall, there isn't a lot of flash, but this should be a rock-solid WAC team from top to bottom with most of the concerns, like the quarterback situation, the new starting defensive ends, and placekicker, could actually be upgraded with several great options at quarterback, including Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett and former Auburn Tiger Steve Ensminger, JUCO star Kwame Jordan ready to be a major playmaker on the end, and senior Brad Oestriecher likely to provide more pop for the kicking game.

The rebuilding should be complete with a winning season all but certain if the Bulldogs can get out of the first six weeks with a few wins. The talent is in place, the coaching is there, and there's even a little bit of depth all across the board. Now everything has to come together, and if it does, a WAC title is more than possible. 

What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Ensminger is a good talent who should be in the starting mix for the next few seasons, but it was sophomore Ross Jenkins, with excellent all-around skills and big upside, who sat on top of the depth chart coming out of spring ball. When Bennett gets his chance he's expected to be the main man, but it'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the situation. This is a good enough team to win the WAC title right now; can an untested sophomore take the job from a veteran senior like Bennett?

What to watch for on defense: The return of Brannon Jackson. The Tech linebacking corps is full of smallish, fast players built more like safeties than linebackers. Jackson is the exception checking in at 256 pounds with good toughness against the run and decent quickness. He was the one bright spot on the miserable 2006 defense, and now, thanks to a knee injury that cost him all of last year, he gets a shot to make some noise on possibly one of the best Tech teams in years.

The team will be far better if … the secondary can slow down the pass.
If you can't be competent against the pass, winning the WAC is a problem. The pass rush wasn't bad last year, but the Bulldogs still finished 111th in the nation in pass defense allowing 287 yards per game, worst in the WAC. Everyone had their fun with only Fresno State and Ole Miss dipping below the 200-yard mark, and Tech lost both of those games.

The Schedule:
Dooley's second year might not start out too great playing an improved Mississippi State and going to Kansas, and trips to Boise State and Hawaii might mean a 1-4 beginning before things start to ease up. And then the Bulldogs have to take advantage of every home game and beat Idaho, Fresno State, Utah State and Nevada in the second half of the year, and they need to at least split at San Jose State and New Mexico State. Coming up with a winning season is possible, but there can't be any slips.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Patrick Jackson. A top return man along with being the team’s best running back, Jackson fought through the bumps and bruises to put up 950 rushing yards while finishing second on the team with 31 catches. He's a quick, talented veteran who does a little of everything well, and while he won't have to carry the entire workload, he'll be the star of the show.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Quin Harris. When Brannan Jackson went out, the linebacking corps became Harris's, and the then-junior came through with a monster season making 102 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 11 broken up passes and an interception. A tremendous all-around playmaker able to get into the backfield and defend the pass as well as he can stop the run, he'll be in the hunt for WAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Taylor Bennett and/or sophomore QBs Steve Ensminger and Ross Jenkins. The passing game was among the least efficient in the nation last season as the offense had a tough time keeping up the pace against the high-octane teams. It's not like former starting QB Zac Champion was bad, but he wasn't special and he was hardly good enough to make a mediocre receiving corps shine. The receivers this year should be better, but hardly elite. There isn't a bad option among the new quarterbacks, but the starter has to improve the offense.

The season will be a success if ... Tech gets to a bowl game. It's asking for too much to win the WAC, but the Bulldogs could certainly finish second. A winning season and the first bowl appearance since 2001, and the third since 1978, is a must for a team with this much talent and this much experience.

Key game: Aug. 30 vs. Mississippi State. One thing is for certain; the Bulldogs will win. Tech alum Terry Bradshaw has pumped up his school by saying it would win the opener, and the potential is there to do it. A victory over the rising MSU team would do wonders for Tech's confidence and would set the tone for a good season even with road trips to Kansas, Boise State and Hawaii over the next few weeks to follow.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Punt return average: Louisiana Tech 14.5 yards – Opponents 7.5 yards
- Third down conversions: Opponents 71 of 187 (38%) – Louisiana Tech 55 of 187 (29%)
- Fumbles: Louisiana Tech 34 (lost 15) – Opponents 17 (lost 7)