2010 Louisiana Tech Preview - Defense
Louisiana Tech LB Adrien Cole
Louisiana Tech LB Adrien Cole
Posted May 8, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldog Defense

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2010 - Defense

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What You Need To Know: New defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler isn't going to change things up too much. The defense will still be aggressive and it should still keep on improving after a few disastrous seasons. The line isn't going to be anything special and could end up being the team's weak link if the tackles can't stay healthy and if there isn't more of a push from the ends, but the terrific linebacking corps should be able to clean up plenty of messes. An emerging group of defensive backs will be strong throughout the year, but they'll get lit up by the better passing games. Overall, this isn't going to be a brick wall of a defense, but it's good enough to be in the middle of the WAC pack. That might be good enough if the Air Raid offense starts to explode.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Adrien Cole, 93
Sacks: Matt Broha, 4
Interceptions: Josh Victorian, 3

Star of the defense: Junior LB Adrien Cole
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DT Ramone Randle
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Solomon Randle
Best pro prospect: Cole
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Cole, 2) SS Tank Calais, 3) LB Jay Dudley
Strength of the defense: Linebackers, Defensive Back Options
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Line

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: After an up-and-down year in and out of the starting lineup, senior Mason Hitt has to serve as an anchor at right tackle. At 6-1 and 270 pounds he's not huge, but he bulked up over the last year after making 33 tackles with two sacks. He'd be better as a 3-4 end, but he's strong enough to be a good interior pass rusher as a one-gap tackle.

With all-star D'Anthony Smith gone to the NFL, 6-2, 300-pound senior Ramone Randle has to be a big, steady presence in the interior. The right tackle struggled to stay on the field thanks to a lingering knee problem, but he was able to make 16 tackles as a backup. He's not going to be Smith as a pass rusher, but as long as he can hold the line against the run from time to time, he'll be useful.

While junior Matt Broha is a linebacker playing end at 6-4 and 235 pounds, he holds up well on the left side. The team's top pass rusher last year with four sacks, to go along with 36 tackles for loss, he's a quick presence on the outside who has to do even more to get to the quarterback. Extremely athletic and with two years of starting experience, now is the time to grow into the team's most disruptive force up front.

Stepping into a full-time role for Kwame Jordan on the right side is Christian Lacey, a 6-1, 240-pound junior who started against Navy last year and was a key backup throughout making 21 tackles with a sack. Supposedly a pure pass rushing specialist, now the quick end has to start getting to the quarterback on a regular basis and he needs to provide more pressure.

Projected Top Reserves: At 6-2 and 330 pounds, redshirt freshman Justin Ellis has the raw bulk to become a presence on the inside. He'll rotate with Ramone Randle and could come in and play next to him to give the Bulldogs two big bodies on the inside against the run.

Senior Randy Grigsby has been a spot starter over the last few years but didn't see the field too much last season making just nine tackles with a sack. At 6-3 and 245 pounds he brings more size to the left side than Matt Broha, but with his time logged in he has to be more productive when he gets his chance.

Watch Out For … Broha. He needs to become an All-WAC type of terror on the outside, and the coaching staff will do whatever is possible to turn him loose into the backfield.
Strength: Size inside. Hitt isn't huge at 270, but he has grown into the role. Randle and Ellis are massive and senior John White is a 285-pound body who can be thrown into the rotation. The line is big enough that it should be better at …
Weakness: Stopping the run. There wasn't enough of a pass rush, but the big problem was the run defense. Considering D'Anthony Smith and Kwame Jordan were tough veterans, the line should've been better. While things settled down after getting roasted for 300 yards or more in three of the first four games, the line wasn't enough of a rock.
Outlook: There's no star power and the loss of Smith and Jordan could be devastating. This wasn't a solid line to begin with, and now it'll have to settle for simply being functional at best. The tackles aren't reliable and can't be counted on to last a full season, while Broha and Lacey have to show they can be dangerous enough to worry about on the outside.
Unit Rating: 5


Projected Starters: Junior Adrien Cole took over as the team's leading defensive star making 93 tackles with two sacks and four tackles for loss on the way to First Team All-WAC honors. A huge hitter with nice range, he gets in on every stop and could be used even more to get into the backfield. Considering the competition now for the job in the middle, there's a chance he could be moved to the outside; he'd be a natural strongside defender. With his toughness and his leadership, he'll be one of the team's top tacklers once again no matter where he plays.

6-3, 220-pound Dusty Rust is a nice baller who should shine with a bigger role on the strongside. While he's not huge, he's a tough defender who produced whenever he was on the field making 25 tackles. However, he wasn't used to get into the backfield and he doesn't do much against the pass. A great motor and good tackling skills should make him a big stat producer.

Junior Jay Dudley is quietly growing into one of the team's best defenders and should standout this year on the weakside. After stepping into the role late in 2008, he was a steady, smart playmaker last year making 75 tackles with 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss, but he didn't do anything against the pass. At 6-3 and 225 pounds he's not all that bid, but the former star high school wide receiver moves extremely well. He's versatile enough to play anywhere in the linebacking corps.

Projected Top Reserves: How good is Solomon Randle ? The 5-11, 235-pound sophomore might just knock all-star Adrien Cole out of the spot in the middle. A key backup and a spot starter, getting the call in the middle against Idaho, and finished with 30 tackles. He came out roaring this offseason with a tremendous spring session capped off by a nine-tackle spring game, and while he was good enough to earn the starting nod in the middle on the post-spring depth chart. While Cole will end up as the starter, Randle will play a big role.

Senior Kiamni Washington never got his 2009 rolling after having problems staying healthy. Most a special teamer so far in his career, he saw a little time on the linebacking corps making ten tackles with a tackle for loss and a recovered fumble. Very quick, the 6-1, 235-pounder has the potential to be a good backup on the strongside if he can stay healthy.

6-1, 215-pound redshirt freshman Rufus Porter tore up the scout squad last year and will be one of the team's defensive stars sooner than later. He's not all that big, but he's a whale of a talent with great range and tremendous athleticism. He'll work on the weakside in a rotation with Jay Dudley, but he could step in and start at any time.

Watch Out For … Randle. This is a good, solid linebacking corps that had a decent 2009, and Randle is about to break through and become the best of the bunch. That it's even a thought to move Cole out of a starting spot shows how good Randle is.
Strength: Active veterans. Cole and Dudley form as good a linebacking twosome as any in the WAC, while Rust and Randle are ready to shine with their expanded roles. There's great depth to go along with the established stars.
Weakness: Pass defense. There's too much athleticism and too much experience to not be better against the pass. This group hasn't done nearly enough to come up with big plays when the ball is in the air.
Outlook: This might be the team's biggest strength as the season goes on. Cole and Dudley are rocks, Randle is an emerging star, and Porter is going to be special once he gets more time. Rust will be a big stat producer on the strongside.
Unit Rating: 6


Projected Starters: If senior Tank Calais can do more against the pass, he has the potential to be a tremendous stat-sheet filler. The 5-11, 205-pound strong safety finished second on the team making 77 tackles with a sack and two interceptions, taking one 96 yards for a touchdown against San Jose State. He ended up being moved around over the second half of the season between strong safety and a nickel role, and he might end up being a jack-of-all-trades yet again. He'll be better being able to roam.

Taking over the full-time free safety job from Antonio Baker will be C.J. Broades , a 6-1, 205-pound sophomore who filled in late last year starting two games and finishing with 18 tackles in just four games. On the down side, he blew his redshirt year, but he got some good experience and he now appears ready to become one of the team's top playmakers. A terrific tackler, he'll be in on everything and could be moved to strong safety of a nickel role if needed.

Junior Terry Carter is back at one cornerback spot after making 45 tackles with four broken up passes. He didn't pick off any passes and he was in and out of the lineup over the second half of the year with a hamstring problem, but he's healthy now and should be a key leader in the secondary. A speedster who can stay with any receiver in the WAC, he finished second in the 200 in the 2005 Louisiana state high school track championships and was part of the 2006 title winning 4x200 relay team.

Senior Josh Victorian started the final four games of the year when Terry Carter was banged up. He started on the right side, and now he'll have the full-time job. With excellent speed and emerging coverage skills, he should shine in the role after making 31 tackles with three interceptions and four broken up passes. He's a playmaker who should do even more when teams try to stay away from Carter.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Olajuwon Paige started four games at corner seeing time on the right side before moving over to the left for the final two games. He finished with 21 tackles and an interception, and now he'll combine with Josh Victorian on the right side but could start on either side.

Chad Boyd got in nine games of work as a true freshman making 31 tackles, and now he could end up starting at strong safety if Tank Calais spends most of his time in a nickel role. The 5-10, 190-pounder isn't built like a big hitter, but he's a great tackler and can fly with tremendous range. The coaching staff will carve out a spot for him.

Sophomore Javontay Crowe will be a key backup at both free safety and as a nickel defender. While he only made one tackle in a limited role as a true freshman, he's ready to become a factor and could be used as a dime defender when he's not being moved around between other roles. At 5-11 and 190 pounds he has nice size and good tackling ability, but he's not necessarily a ball-hawker against the pass.

Watch Out For … Broades. He looked the part even as a true freshman, and while he has to show some consistency when the ball is in the air, he should be an all-star before his career is up. Built like a strong safety but playing the free role, he'll move around.
Strength: Options. This might be a young secondary with four sophomores and two juniors playing key roles, but there's enough experience to hope for more consistency. There are several players who can move spots where needed, and the coaching staff shouldn't have a problem putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Weakness: Great passing teams. The stats were a bit skewed thanks to playing against running teams like navy, Nicholls State, and Hawaii, but the teams that could throw, did. Idaho bombed away for 327 yards and Boise State tossed for 354 as the Bulldogs gave up 300 yards or more in three of the final five games.
Outlook: After suffering through a few years of having among the worst pass defenses in college football, Tech stepped up and had a nice 2009. The aggressive secondary should pick off more passes now that it knows what it's doing. There will be times when the DBs gets torched by the better quarterbacks on the slate, but for the most part, Tech will have an advantage on most afternoons.
Unit Rating: 6

Special Teams

Projected Starters: The big concern going into last year was the consistency of the kicking game and if anyone could hit a field goal. Now-sophomore Matt Nelson was fabulous hitting 10-of-13 shots with two of the misses coming from 56 and 52 yards away. He continued to look strong in the spring and he should be an all-star caliber kicker.

The punting game was a disaster last season and the new coaching staff will be in a constant search for an option. Going into the fall, wide receiver Stuart Scurria will get the first shot after looking solid in spring ball, but he'll get knocked out of the job the moment a better option becomes available.

While RB/WR Lyle Fitt and Richard Casey will get their chances to return kicks and punts, Phillip Livas is the special gamebreaker who'll handle most of the duties after averaging 27 yards per kickoff return and 13.4 yards per punt return. Fitte averaged 12 yards on three punt returns and 22.2 yards spitting kickoff returns.

Watch Out For … Fitte to get more work as a returner. Livas is still the main man, but Fitte was excellent when he got his chances. He could become the main man on kickoff returns.
Strength: Nelson. The Bulldogs weren't involved in that many close games, but they lost three by fewer than three points. Nelson didn't get a field goal attempt in two of them and missed a 56-yard bomb against Idaho. If he had gotten his shot at tries in each game inside of 50 yards, Tech might have finished 7-5 instead of 4-8.
Weakness: Punting. A disaster last year, finishing last in the WAC and 105th in the nation, the punting game isn't likely to be a strong suit with so much turmoil. The job is there for the taking.
Outlook: The return game should be excellent and Nelson will battle for all-star honors, but the punting game needs a ton of work. The special teams, overall, were solid last year with good coverage teams and several positives, and they should be fine again.
Unit Rating: 7

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