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2009 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview
Louisiana Tech DT D'Anthony Smith
Louisiana Tech DT D'Anthony Smith
Posted Jul 29, 2009 2009 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview | 2009 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2009 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2009 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart
- 2008 Tech Preview | 2007 Tech Preview | 2006 Tech Preview 

Head coach: Derek Dooley
3rd year: 13-12
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 15, Def. 21, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Tech Players
1. WR/KR Phillip Livas, Jr.
2. FS Antonio Baker, Sr.
3. DT D'Anthony Smith, Sr.
4. RB Daniel Porter, Sr.
5. SS Deon Young, Sr.
6. OT Rob McGill, Jr.
7. DE Kwame Jordan, Sr.
8. S Tarence Calais, Jr.
9. TE Dennis Morris, Sr.
10. C Lon Roberts, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 at Auburn
9/12 at Navy
9/19 Nicholls State
9/30 Hawaii
10/9 at Nevada
10/17 New Mexico St
10/24 at Utah State
10/31 at Idaho
11/6 Boise State
11/14 at LSU
11/21 at Fresno State
12/5 San Jose State

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Record: 8-5

8/30 Mississippi St W 22-14
9/9 at Kansas L 29--0
9/20 SE Louisiana W 41-26
10/1 at Boise State L 38-3
10/11 at Hawaii L 28-14
10/18 Idaho W 46-14
10/25 at Army L 14-7
11/1 Fresno State W 38-35
11/8 at San Jose State W 21-0
11/15 Utah State W 45-38
11/22 at NMSU W 35-31
11/29 Nevada L 35-31
Independence Bowl
12/28 Northern Illinois W 17-10

 Is it time for Louisiana Tech to take the next step up and be a true contender to the Boise State throne, or are there just enough holes to be just short of the summit (like there have been for a team like Nevada)?

Head coach Derek Dooley won’t be in Ruston for too much longer after building up a burgeoning WAC powerhouse that got an Independence Bowl win last year, will be stronger this year, and will be truly nasty two years from now. For this season, the Bulldogs will be good enough to beat anyone on the schedule on the right day, and while there’s room for improvement on both sides of the ball, the things the team does well it does very, very well.

It all starts with the lines with everyone returning on both sides. With the trenches in place, the stars should be able to shine if they can stay healthy. FS Antonio Baker might have to do even less against the run considering the front four should do a better job of stopping good ground games. RB Daniel Porter, who ran for 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns, might not be built to handle a major workload, but he’ll be productive, and superstar receiver/returner Phillip Livas should be among the nation’s best all-around playmakers. But there are problems.

The secondary was awful last year and now it has to replace both starting corners. The linebacking corps has to replace Brannon Jackson and Quin Harris, who missed most of last year but will still be a tough void to fill, and the offense could use some more help for Livas in the passing game. Ah yes, the passing game.

If Louisiana Tech is going to go from being a bowl bound team, which it will be, to a WAC contender, it’ll need something from a passing game that was among the most ineffective and inefficient in America. That Tech won eight games with such a woeful passing game goes to show how good the team was in other spots, but just being decent isn’t going to cut it much longer considering what Dooley has done with the program. 

What to watch for on offense: A dominant year from the offensive line. The Bulldog line wasn’t awful in pass protection and paved the way for 187 rushing yards per game. Now it should be terrific with all five starters returning and decent prospects on the way. Left tackle Rob McGill is an all-star and center Lon Roberts is a good one. This won’t just be a great line this year, it’ll be nasty next year, too, with four starters expected to come back.

What to watch for on defense: A dominant year from the defensive line. The front four can’t lose star DT D’Anthony Smith, but there’s great depth and several pass rushing option on the outside. The run defense was strong last year, partly because everyone threw the ball, but it really will be good against good ground games. There will be even more pressure into the backfield and plenty of big sacks.

The team will be far better if … the offense can score against decent teams. The secondary will be an issue after yet another year of giving up ungodly passing yards, but the key will the ability to put more points on the board against the better teams. Oh sure, Tech blasted away on Idaho, Utah State and New Mexico State, but it only scored three against Boise State, 17 against Northern Illinois, 14 against Hawaii, and was shut out by Kansas.

The Schedule: The Bulldogs came up with a season-opening win over an SEC team last year, Mississippi State, and this year it gets to start off against another SEC team: Auburn. Winning over the first half of the season will be a must with a brutal second half to deal with playing four road games in five weeks wrapped around a key home day against Boise State. On the plus side, the first two road games in the second half of the year are at Utah State and Idaho, but after playing the Broncos, Tech goes to LSU and plays at Fresno State.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Phillip Livas. Few players do everything the 5-8, 175-pounder can. Not only is Livas the team’s top receiver, but he’s a rushing threat and is one of the nation’s premier kick and punt returners. He’s not big enough to handle a ton of work, but he’s too good to not have the ball in his hands at least ten times per game.

Best Defensive Player: Senior FS Antonio Baker. The NFL types might end up liking DT D’Anthony Smith a little bit more, but Baker is the team’s tackling machine after leading the Bulldogs in stops over the last two years. The free safety needs to do more when the ball is in the air and he has to do more this year to help out the green corners, but he’s invaluable for the run defense.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Ross Jenkins. He has a veteran line to work behind, a promising receiving corps, and a 1,000-yard back in Daniel Porter to hand off to. Now Jenkins has to turn the passing game up a few notches. He was fine when he took over the reins in the second half of last year, but he was hardly special as he turned into more of a game manager than a playmaker. If he’s above-average, and not just good, Tech could win the WAC.

The season will be a success if ... the Bulldogs are in the hunt for the WAC title until the end. With Boise State coming to Ruston, there's a chance for a big season if everything breaks the right away. Splitting road games, at least, against Nevada and Fresno State will be a must, and there can't be any home gaffes against the average teams in the league.

Key game: Nov. 6 vs. Boise State. The Broncos won last year's game 38-3, but it could be payback time in one of the biggest home games in recent Louisiana Tech history. The Bulldogs can't win a WAC title without winning this game, but they could be a bit tired after dealing with three road games in the prior four.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Completion percentage: Opponents 60% - Louisiana Tech 46%
- Rushing yards: Louisiana Tech 2,432 – Opponents 1,350
- Punt return average: Louisiana Tech 13 yards per try – Opponents 6 yards per try

- 2009 CFN Louisiana Tech Preview | 2009 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2009 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2009 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart
- 2008 Tech Preview | 2007 Tech Preview | 2006 Tech Preview