2008 Louisiana Tech Preview - Offense
Louisiana Tech WR Phillip Livas
Louisiana Tech WR Phillip Livas
Posted Apr 30, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldog Offense

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 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 

What you need to know:
The veteran offense with eight returning starters will all come down to the hopeful improved play from the line and the stating quarterback. While four sophomores will likely start up front, this is a veteran group that got its feet wet throughout last year and should be strong for the running game. The running back combination of Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter are excellent, and the receivers, are fine, but could be great if Phillip Livas comes through with a great year. The tight ends, overall, should be the best in the WAC. The focus is all on the quarterback situation with Georgia Tech transfer Taylor Bennett, Auburn transfer Steven Ensminger, and the starter going into fall camp, Ross Jenkins, all about to wage an all-out battle royale for the starting gig. There isn't a bad answer among the three.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Michael Mosley (now a WR)
9-20, 101 yds
Rushing: Patrick Jackson
202 carries, 950 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Anthony Harrison
33 catches, 293 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Patrick Jackson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Taylor Bennett or sophomore QBs Ross Jenkins or Steven Ensminger
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Cudahy Harmon
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Philip Beck (as a punt returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jackson, 2) WR Phillip Livas, 3) TE Dennis Morris
Strength of the offense: Running back, tight ends
Weakness of the offense: Wide receivers, quarterback controversy


Projected Starter
The starting quarterback job will be up for grabs going into the fall, but coming out of spring ball, 6-2, 203-pound sophomore Ross Jenkins has the edge. He saw a little bit of mop-up time last year completing just two of five passes for 26 yards against Nevada, and while he'll have some tough competition to deal with, he has the talent to make the offense his for the next three years. Consistency will be his key. He has the accuracy, but now he has to be effective on a regular basis.

Projected Top Reserves: The win-now option will be Georgia Tech transfer Taylor Bennett, who will enroll in graduate school and not have to sit out a year to transfer. The 6-3, 215-pound senior was the starter for the Yellow Jackets last season and completed 162 of 327 passes for 2,136 yards, but he only threw seven touchdown passes, with five coming in the final four games, with nine interceptions. He has the most experience, but his only really strong outing at Tech was against West Virginia in the 2007 Gator Bowl when he threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns. He also had Calvin Johnson helping him out.

Sophomore Steven Ensminger started out his career at Auburn, sat out last season after transferring, and now is pushing hard for the starting job. The No. 2 man coming out of spring ball, the 6-2, 230-pounder has a live arm, a big-time high school résumé, winning the 2005 Louisiana 5A state high school title, and the talent to be the star of the show if he can show a bit more spark for the passing game.

The most interesting option of the lot is senior Al Jackson, a 6-2, 229-pound transfer from Grambling State who has the most athleticism of the quarterbacks by far. A high school sprinter and a talented passer who threw for 110 touchdowns with 15 interceptions in high school, he went to Mississippi Gulf Coast CC for two years and is now trying to get into the Bulldog mix.

Watch Out For ... Bennett. The writing was on the wall when Paul Johnson brought his spread option attack to Georgia Tech. Bennett was going to be out of a job, and he was able to find a home in Ruston. The job won' t just be handed to him, but he could be the favorite when he gets off the bus.
Strength: Options. The coaching staff can't really go wrong. Bennett, Ensminger and Jenkins represent the most quarterback talent the program has had since Luke McCown and Tim Rattay. The starter will have earned it.
Weakness: A controversy? With so many good options, it'll be tempting to yank the starter if there are any rough patches. The starter won't ever really be comfortable.
Outlook: It'll be one of the WAC's most interesting position battles. Will the job go to Bennett as the coaching staff hopes to get one good year before making a decision on Jenkins or Ensminger, or will there be a nod to the future with one of the sophomores? Considering Tech had the 101st most efficient passing game in the country last season, there should be an upgrade no matter who's under center.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starter
Senior Patrick Jackson has been the star of the offense at times over the last few seasons and earned second-team All-WAC honors last year after rushing for 950 yards and eight touchdowns averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Able to be a workhorse for a limited amount of time, he ran for 26 carries for 155 yards and a score against Idaho, but for the most part he ran about 14-18 times a game as he fought through injuries. Also a strong receiver, he was second on the team with 31 catches for 227 yards and a score. A top recruit for the program a few years ago, he has decent 5-10, 193-pound size and excellent quickness.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Daniel Porter has shown flashes of brilliant running for 260 yards and three touchdowns over a two-game mid-season span last year on the way to a 592-yard, six touchdown season. Averaging six yards per carry, the 5-9, 189-pound speed back can start and stop on a dime. Now he needs to be used more for the passing game after catching just 11 passes for 58 yards. He'll see some time at the U position to get in the backfield at the same time as Jackson.

5-10, 203-pound junior William Griffin brings a bit more power to the mix. He wasn't used all that often, but he was able to bang out 190 yards while catching five passes for 22 yards. He has a little bit of history as the main man rushing for 174 yards and a score against San Jose State two years ago.

5-8, 190-pound sophomore Myke Compton is a scatback who needs to find a role. One of the team's fastest backs, and with good strength, he's due to become a factor.

Watch Out For ... more from the reserves. Jackson has 1,000-yard potential, but he isn't big enough to be a 25-carry-a-game runner. The other options are good enough to carry the ground game at times.
Strength: Quickness. Jackson, Porter and Compton can all fly through the hole, and Griffin isn't slow for his size.
Weakness: A consistent banger. Griffin could be a wear-them-down type of runner with some more work, but he won't get much of an opportunity outside of a few carries here and there. It would be nice if he was a closer late when defenses get tired.
Outlook: The line didn't provide a whole bunch of help, but the ground game was still decent. Now with the combination of Jackson, Porter and Griffin, the Bulldogs have one of the league's better backfields. They're not going to make a whole bunch happen on their own, but they'll combine for close to 2,000 yards.
Rating: 6.5


Projected Starters
Sophomore Phillip Livas was a star recruit for the program last year and he didn't disappoint as a true freshman. Used as both a receiver and a runner, he caught 28 passes for 504 yards and three touchdowns averaging 18 yards per grab, and he ran for 72 yards on ten carries. He's only 5-8 and 170 pounds, but he's lightning quick and is a star kick returner as well as a home run hitter for the offense.

There will be a combination of players for the other starting spot with 5-10, 177-pound senior Philip Beck getting the first look after finishing third on the team with 30 catches for 359 yards and a score. While he's a decent receiver, he's an elite punt returner averaging 17.4 yard per try. The former JUCO all-star has the talent to do more for the offense, but he hasn't shown it yet.

Junior tight end Dennis Morris has NFL measurables, but he hasn't put it all together yet on the field. At 6-2 and 264 pounds, he's a big blocker, and a former high school sprinter, he has excellent speed. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch as a freshman, but he only caught nine passes for 79 yards last year as he was barely a part of the passing game.

Working as both a tight end and fullback at the U position is 6-3, 242-pound senior Anthony Harrison, the team's leading receiver with 33 catches for 293 yards. With the athleticism of a big wide receiver, he has no problems getting open, but he's not a gamebreaker averaging just 8.9 yards per catch. Even so, he was far more consistent after a down 2006.

Projected Top Reserves: While Morris may have the skills to be an excellent tight end, 6-4, 245-pound junior Dustin Mitchell has actually produced finishing fourth on the team with 29 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Hardly a field stretcher, he's not going to make too many, if any, big plays, but he's a reliable short-range target.

Pushing hard for one of the receiver jobs is junior Michael Mosley, a 6-2, 206-pound former quarterback who's actually the team's leading returning passer after completing nine of 20 passes for 101 yards. He got a start at receiver last year and caught a pass for five yards. He has excellent speed and the ability to be used in a variety of ways.

Also fighting for a job is 6-2, 208-pound senior Shane Womack, an afterthought in the passing game last year catching just 19 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. He has good size and he's been around long enough to be a key third receiver in certain formations if he doesn't beat out Mosley and Beck for the starting slot.

Back and ready to be a factor is 6-4, 204-pound senior Josh Wheeler who returns after missing most of last year hurt. He caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. He showed he was back to form this spring making four catches for 64 yards in the spring game, and now he'll be in the rotation behind Wheeler.

Watch Out For ... Livas. Overall, this is an underwhelming group that isn't going to throw too many scares into opposing defenses, but Livas is the one who could change all of that. He has the star skills to be the type of dangerous playmaker who changes games all by himself.
Strength: Tight end. There's an abundance of very big, very athletic tight ends. Morris, Mitchell and Harris could start for almost anyone in the WAC, and they'll be used in several ways in various two tight end sets.
Weakness: Drops. This was a big, big problem at times throughout the year and it killed the consistency of the passing game. With so many veterans returning, the mistakes have to slow down.
Outlook: There's a ton of experience, plenty of upside, and lots of players who look the part, but more production has to come. The passing game averaged a paltry 9.9 yards per catch with just 13 touchdowns. Livas will be the No. 1 target, but he needs other wide receivers to step up and be consistent to open up the air show. The tight ends are great and will be featured throughout the year.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The line gets a big boost with the return of David Accardo, the 6-4, 318-pound left guard who was growing into a strong force for the running game after a decent 2006, but he got hurt early last year and missed most of the year. He's not going to move too much, but he's a mauler for the ground game.

Replacing Ryan Considine at right tackle will be sophomore Cudahy Harmon, a 6-8, 320-pound house who saw a little bit of time as a true freshman and even started against California. He has to prove he can handle the speed rushers on a consistent basis, but he should be good when he's able to use his long arms to keep defenders at bay.

Back in the middle is sophomore Lon Roberts, one of the rocks of the line starting every game last year. The 6-3, 272-pounder was one of the stars of 2007 spring ball and came through big in the middle as a physical blocker with the athleticism to play tackle if needed.

Also returning is 6-7, 292-pound sophomore Rob McGill at left tackle. Able to play guard or tackle, he started the last six games of the year at left guard, but no he'll move to the outside where he'll have to show consistency as a pass blocker in place of Tyler Miller.

6-3, 320-pound sophomore Jared Miles was a decent backup and eventually took over the starting right guard job starting the final six games of last year. A massive blocker who's great for the ground game, he held his own as a true freshman. As he grows into the job he should become one of the team's most reliable all-around blockers.

Projected Top Reserves: While Harmon has the potential to grow into a start at tackle, 6-6, 325-pound veteran Bill Jones could end up stepping in and starting if needed. He'll start out working behind McGill on the left side, and as one of the line's most versatile blockers, he could step in at guard if needed after starting five times on the right side early last year.

One of the team's rising stars after a great spring is redshirt freshman Kris Cavitt, a 6-3, 285-pound future starter at guard. A great athlete for a guard, he's still learning the ins and outs of the position after only playing football for one year in high school, and even then he was best on the defensive side. He'll play behind Accardo at left guard.

6-4, 280-pound junior Ben Harris started the first three games of last year before giving way to Accardo. A serviceable veteran, he's able to step in at either guard spot, will start out behind Miles on the right side.

Watch Out For ... a bit better pass protection. There should be decent mobility at quarterback meaning there should be a few sacks avoided, but the line will be better with more experience and several starters back.
Strength: Experience. Technically, three starters are returning, but Accardo and Harris have each started enough be considered crusty veterans. Even though this is still a young group overall, things should jell in a hurry.
Weakness: Pass protection. This has been a problem over the last few seasons allowing 32 sacks in 2006 and 31 last year. Yes, the pass protection will be better because of the experience, but the tackles aren't exactly equipped to stop every speed rusher.
Outlook: This is a big, experienced group that should do a decent job for the running game. It paved the way for a solid 155 yards per game last year, and it should do far more. There's decent talent and lots of upside with four sophomores starting. This group should only grow and get better over the next few seasons.
Rating: 5.5