2010 Louisiana Tech Preview
Louisiana Tech WR Phillip Livas
Louisiana Tech WR Phillip Livas
Posted May 8, 2010

If you're looking for one of those under-the-radar teams that could annoy some of the bigger boys like Texas A&M and Boise State, Louisiana Tech might be it. With a new high-octane offense and plenty of potential, this is a team you need to know about. Check out the CFN 2010 Louisiana Tech Preview.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Sonny Dykes
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 12
Ten Best Louisiana Tech Players
1. LB Adrien Cole, Jr.
2. OT Rob McGill, Sr.
3. WR/KR Phillip Livas, Sr.
4. S Tank Calais, Sr.
5. LB Jay Dudley, Jr.
6. LB Solomon Randle, Soph.
7. C Lon Roberts, Sr.
8. FS C.J. Broades, Soph.
9. OT Cudahy Harmon, Sr.
10. PK Matt Nelson, Soph.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Grambling
Sept. 11 at Texas A&M
Sept. 18 Navy
Sept. 25 Southern Miss
Oct. 2 at Hawaii
Oct. 9 Utah State
Oct. 16 Idaho
Oct. 26 at Boise St
Nov. 6 Fresno State
Nov. 13 at NMSU
Nov. 27 at San Jose St
Dec. 4 Nevada

This is going to be interesting.

2009 might have been a major disappointment with a 4-8 record and the loss of head coach Derek Dooley to Tennessee, but it's not like the program was making a ton of noise. It was growing into a decent player in the WAC, but it wasn't like it made Boise State lose any sleep. Now that's over.

Here comes Sonny Dykes, who helped make the Texas Tech offense fly before turning Arizona into more of an air show, and he's going to get the ball flying around in the Air Raid attack that should make Bulldog football more exciting with an X factor offense that everyone will have to worry about.

The pieces aren't quite in place to start crank out 400 passing yards per game, but there are enough good players on the offense to hope for a few blowups. The receiving corps is quick and potentially deadly, the line is full of veterans and decent talents who should be able to make the transition in a hurry, and there are enough running back options to provide a little bit of balance from time to time. The quarterback situation is the problem, but any signal caller worth his salt would be drooling to get the keys to the race car.

The defense doesn't have to be great, but it'll have to be just good enough to overcome the offensive inconsistency and to come up with a stop here and there in shootouts. The defensive front is no big deal, but the back seven is quick and athletic, and it's potentially great if the sophomores who were originally brought in by Dooley can all live up to their potential at once. Throw in a tremendous placekicker in Matt Nelson and a few devastating kick return options, and Tech won't be a pushover.

The Bulldogs have been good over the last several years, but they have only one bowl appearance since 2001 to show for it. It's been hard to get respect as a program that's in the WAC but has a Conference USA geographical location. Dykes will certainly give Tech a higher profile, and if all goes well, he'll change things up quickly enough offensively, to go along with the foundation set by Dooley, to make a big WAC splash.

What to watch for on offense: Air Raid. The Louisiana Tech offense that finished 91st in the nation in passing, and relied more on efficiency than yards, will now try to bomb away and spread out the field in the Texas Tech-like attack. The running game isn't going to be ignored, but Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will be trying to get the offense moving with quick hitting passes and be creating mismatches with their speedy receivers. It might take a while for everything to work, but there will be a game or two when the passing game blows up.

What to watch for on defense: The linebacking corps. Adrien Cole earned First Team All-WAC honors and led the team in tackles … and he might be a backup. With the emergence of super-soph Solomon Randle along with excellent outside options in Jay Dudley and Dusty Rust, the Bulldogs linebackers could turn out to be the team's biggest strength. Everyone has to do more against the pass, and it took way too long to produce against the run last year, but it's not a stretch to say that this group could end up carrying the defense, and the team, if it plays up to its potential.

The team will be far better if … someone can get into the backfield. The loss of D'Anthony Smith and Kwame Jordan from the line would normally be a major problem, but it's not like they crushed and killed their way into backfields on a regular basis last season. The Bulldogs were able to generate sacks from time to time, but they finished 111th in the nation in tackles for loss and didn't come up with enough big plays. The pressure will be on veteran end Matt Broha, along with the speedy linebackers, to be far more disruptive.

The schedule: Outside of the opener against Grambling, there aren't any sure-things on the non-conference slate with Texas A&M, Navy, and Southern Miss to deal with before making the long trip to Hawaii to start WAC play. The Bulldogs get time off before having to face Boise State, but that's on the blue turf. On the plus side, they get Idaho, Fresno State, and Nevada, three of the WAC's four bowl teams from last year, at home and don't have any painful prolonged road trips.

Best offensive player: Senior OT Rob McGill. Phillip Livas has the potential to be the team's best and most dangerous playmaker, but he has been merely mediocre as a wideout. The hope is for a quarterback to step up and shine, or one of the young targets, but up front, McGill is the rock the rest of the team will work around. The veteran all-star is 6-6, 310, and tough to get around, but he has to prove that he can be the type of athletic pass protector who can dominate in the new offense like he did in the old one.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Adrien Cole. Will he be able to beat out Solomon Randle for the middle job? If not, Cole will find a spot somewhere in the linebacking corps after earning All-WAC honors making 93 tackles with two sacks and four tackles for loss. He's a tough, compact 5-11 and 240 pounds with great range, and he should be a good leader for the defense to once again count on.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Ross Jenkins or senior QB Steven Ensminger. The Bulldogs need a triggerman to make the offense go, but Jenkins is more of a game manager who's been great at being a complement to the running game. Now he has to be more of the star of the show to utilize all the offensive weapons the right way. If he can't do it, Ensminger, a transfer from Auburn, might end up being the better fit. The coaching staff might want to point towards the future and give sophomore Colby Cameron more of a shot as the season goes on.

The season will be a success if … the offense works. There's always going to be a transition period, but if the offense can make some noise and Dykes can start to recruit a different type of offensive playmaker to Ruston, the season will be a step forward. With so many key WAC games at home, Tech has to win at least two of the big ones and can't slip up against the mediocre. Anything less than a winning season will be a disappointment considering the 4-8 team of last year wasn't that far away from a few more wins.

Key game: Oct. 2 at Hawaii. 2-6 all-time against the Warriors, Tech hasn't had too much success against their high-powered offenses and has never won in Honolulu. If the Bulldog passing game is working, the offense should be able to keep pace this year after winning in a 27-6 home stomping last season. With a win, and with home games against Utah State and Idaho to follow, Tech will likely be 3-0 in WAC play if it can survive the sun-and-fun trip.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Punt returns: Opponents 30 for 258 yards – Louisiana Tech 12 for 148 yards
- Interception return average: Louisiana Tech 23.6 (on 13 picks) – Opponents 2 (on 5 picks)
- Louisiana Tech attendance for the entire season: 100,000 – Attendance at LSU for the game on Nov. 14 (a 24-16 Tiger win): 92,584

- 2010 Louisiana Tech Preview | 2010 Louisiana Tech Offense
- 2010 Louisiana Tech Defense | 2010 Louisiana Tech Depth Chart
- Louisiana Tech Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006