Preview 2017: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2017: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Teams & Conferences

Preview 2017: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Preview 2017: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs


Previewing and looking ahead at the Louisiana Tech season – and what you need to know.


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2017 Louisiana Tech Preview: Hot Coach On Hot Team
2017 Louisiana Tech Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Louisiana Tech Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Louisiana Tech Offense

How do you possible recreate the magic? The Bulldogs were unstoppable at times, averaging over 500 yards per game with the nation’s second-best passing game and finishing second in the nation in scoring, averaging 44 points per game.

But here’s the problem. QB Ryan Higgins is gone, along with the superstar receiving tandem of Carlos Henderson and Trent Taylor and two good linemen. So can the Bulldogs crank up the same offensive production? Not necessarily, but it should still be a dangerous O with QB J’Mar Smith at the helm and RB Jarred Craft running behind a veteran line. However, the biggest problem is …

Biggest Key To The Louisiana Tech Offense

The receiving corps has to reload. Fast. – There’s replacing talent, and there’s replacing what Louisiana Tech lost. Not only is it the offense without the 4,617 passing yards and 41 touchdowns of Higgins, but 218 catches for 3,338 yards and 31 touchdowns are done with Taylor and Henderson gone. There are plenty of dangerous prospects in place, but it’s asking something at a historic level to replace the two lost stars.

What You Need To Know About The Louisiana Tech Defense

The offense got to have its fun and got all the praise last season, but the defense wasn’t all that awful. There were problems – more on that in a moment – but the run D was solid and the pass rush was fantastic. Now there’s going to be more work to do.

The defensive front won’t have problems getting behind the line again, with the end combination of Jaylon Ferguson and Deldrick Canty the best in the conference. With a good group of tackles for the interior, there’s no problem with the front four. The back seven is another story.

Russell Farris is a veteran linebacker who’s been through the wars, and Secdrick Cooper is a terrific-hitting safety, but just about everyone else has to be replaced. It’s not all doom-and-gloom, with several good options ready to fill in the gaps. But considering the secondary was hardly a rock last season, it’ll be bombs away early on.

Biggest Key To The Louisiana Tech Defense

Keep the pressure coming from the defensive line. It didn’t matter too much for a secondary that got thrown on early and often, but the Bulldog defense came up with more than its share of big moments with 44 sacks on the year, highlighted by an all-star season from Ferguson. The D was up 20 sacks from the year before, and now the pressure has to keep on coming with 11 of the top 13 pass rushing producers back. Keep hitting the quarterback, and everything else will work.

Louisiana Tech Will Be Far Better If …

The defense does a bit more to hold up to its end of the bargain now. It was good last season, and the pass rush was fantastic, but the Bulldogs allowed the second-most first downs in the country and got lit up through the air and on third downs.

Teams had to try throwing to keep up the pace, but with the offense not as explosive this time around, the secondary has to make more plays to get off the field after giving up 275 yards per game and allowing offenses to convert 46% of opposing third down chances.

Best Louisiana Tech Offensive Player

QB J’Mar Smith, Soph. – The hope is that he can make the new starting wide receivers better and be the type of playmaker who can make the offense work on his own. The 6-1, 222-pound sophomore was a nice get for the program, and now the attack is his to run. He stepped in for a few games when needed, and threw for 212 yards in the opening game loss to Arkansas. He can make the deep throw, run a little bit, and be the star of the program.

2. OG O’Shea Dugas, Jr.
3. RB Jarred Craft, Sr.
4. PK Jonathan Barnes, Sr.
5. TE Kam McKnight, Jr.

Best Louisiana Tech Defensive Player

DE Jaylon Ferguson, Jr. – The all-star defensive end led the team with 14.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss with 49 tackles as a big blur around the edge. At 6-5 and 255 pounds, he’s not all that massive, but he’s tall, quick, and consistent, with at least one sack in nine games including a great stretch late in the season. The rest of the line is just good enough to keep the pressure off, but he’ll still be keyed on by every blocking scheme.

2. DE Deldrick Canty, Sr.
3. LB Russell Farris, Sr.
4. S Secdrick Cooper, Sr.
5. LB DaMarion King, Sr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

WR Kam McKnight, Jr. – How do you replace the production of Taylor and Henderson? They were fantastic, but it might be the system as much as the talent – at least that’s the hope. Now it’s time to hope for all the young receiver talent waiting in the wings to rise up and be the new stars. There are plenty of options who waited their turn, but McKnight is the leading returning wideout. The problem? He only caught 18 passes for 281 yards and three scores – catching only 118 few passes than Taylor.

The Louisiana Tech Season Will Be A Success If …

The Bulldogs play for the Conference USA title. With all the turnover and all the concerns on both sides of the ball, this is going to be a far worse team than last year’s juggernaut. However, they’re in the far easier West and the schedule couldn’t possibly be more favorable.

Key Game To The Louisiana Tech Season

Oct. 21 vs. Southern Miss – The Conference USA opener at Western Kentucky will be a fun fight, but the battle with Southern Miss will probably be for the West Division title. Beat the Golden Eagles, don’t whiff on conference road games against Rice, UAB and UTEP, and everything should be fine.

2016 Louisiana Tech Fun Stats

– Penalties: Opponents 89 for 852 yards – Louisiana Tech 70 for 670 yards
– 4th Quarter Scoring: Opponents 163 – Louisiana Tech 138
– Sacks: Louisiana Tech 44 for 268 yards – Opponents 28 for 172 yards

2017 Louisiana Tech Preview: Hot Coach On Hot Team
2017 Louisiana Tech Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Louisiana Tech Previews: 2016 | 2015

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