Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech 48, Navy 45: 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017
Louisiana Tech got by Navy 48-45 in a thrilling Armed Forces Bowl. What are the five things that matter, and what’s next in 2017 for both teams?
They are who we thought they were
You wanted to see the Navy running game? This is the ground attack, that was supposed to show up in the American Athletic Conference championship against Temple and the Army game. Zach Abey looked the part of the Navy quarterback star for the next few years for a ground game that cranked out 300 yards and five scores.
You wanted to see the high-powered Louisiana Tech passing attack? Ryan Higgins threw for 409 yards and four scores, coming up with the drives needed to keep Navy at arm’s length before cranking up the game-winning drive.
But he had help …
The Louisiana Tech superstar receivers showed up
Trent Taylor was unstoppable throughout the season, and he did exactly what he was supposed to do against a bad Navy secondary, catching 12 passes for 233 yards and two scores. Carlos Henderson is supposed to be the deep threat – Taylor made the bigger plays on the move – and he came through in the clutch with ten catches for 129 yards and two scores, with an 82-yard kickoff return to go along with it.
Navy might have had its own big plays, but the Louisiana Tech weapons were stronger, meaning …
It’s been a very, very happy bowl season for Conference USA
And a miserable one so far for the American Athletic Conference.
There’s still time, with Temple and South Florida still to go, but it’s been a disastrous few weeks for the AAC with UCF not showing up in a home bowl against Arkansas State, Memphis and Houston losing, and now Navy dropping a post-season game.
On the flip side, UTSA played well against New Mexico in a loss, and Old Dominion, Southern Miss, and WKU all came up with nice wins, and now Louisiana Tech has made it a 4-1 start for Conference USA.
What’s next for Louisiana Tech in 2017?
Who’s leaving early and who’s sticking around? Head coach Skip Holtz is still around – that’s a good start – but QB Ryan Higgins is done, opening the door for J’mar Smith to run the high-powered attack. Unfortunately, star target Trent Taylor is done, and do-it-all playmaker Carlos Henderson is too good to not be in The League. 1,000-yard back Jarred Craft and key backup Boston Scott are back behind a good line that returns three starters.
The defense loses star safety Xavier Woods and top tackler Jordan Harris, but almost all the other key parts are back. Three of the front four are back and almost all the stars on the defensive front return, led by all-star pass rusher Jaylon Ferguson on one end.
What’s next for Navy in 2017?
The only positive from the Will Worth injury was that the Zach Abey era was able to get going a few games early. He’s supposed to grow into the next special Navy quarterback, and he showed it off with the potential as a decent passer as well as a typical Midshipmen runner. Chris High is back at fullback, and even though four of the top five runners are gone, the offense always produces dangerous backs. Top receiver Jamir Tillman is gone – finding a new deep threat of his caliber will be an issue. Three starters are gone off the line, needing to replace the entire left side.
The defense is more experienced, but it needs to be better in the secondary with all four starters returning to a unit that got burned way too often. The entire linebacking corps is back, and they’ll be busy with Patrick Forrestal and Amos Mason done on the front three.