Our UTSA vs Louisiana Tech preview continues after touching on a few points of discussion related to UTSA in part one. In the second half of our preview we will take a look at an up-and-down Louisiana Tech team that could cement their status as the top team in the West with a victory against UTSA on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM CST and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Network.
LA Tech blew out UTEP, UNT and ULL but lost at home to Northwestern State. I've struggled to get a pulse on this team. How good do you think LA Tech is? Do you see them as the favorite to win the West?
I see them as the favorite now, since UTSA has struggles recently and they have injuries at quarterback. Manny Diaz has an aggressive defense that UNT and UTEP didn't handle well. Northwestern State handled the pressure and they had a quarterback that could make the correct throw under pressure.
Hopefully Northwestern State was a wake up call. Five turnovers will get you beat against just about anybody. If Tech plays their game, I don't see why they can't win out. WKU and ODU present challenges because they have very good quarterbacks. UAB will be a road game and they are playing well right now, so that is another potential roadblock.
I don't know if Rice has the firepower to beat the Bulldogs. Tech is fortunate to have UTSA and Rice coming to Ruston. It's a tough break for UTSA to have to come on the road with a third string quarterback because I was expecting a very hard fought game. Now it will be a letdown for Tech if they don't win.
Cody Sokol and Houston Bates are both Big Ten transfers that Skip Holtz brought in to give this Louisiana Tech team some senior leadership. How has each guy impacted the team so far this season?
The team had talent, but they had huge holes at those two positions. A quarterback that can make all the throws and a defensive end that can get pressure on the quarterback are two things that help a football team tremendously. Without those two players, I think Tech is a 4 or 5 win team again. Not only do they help a great deal with leadership but just having two Big 10/Big 12 talent level players at the top end of the roster to go with the returning key veterans (Kenneth Dixon, Mitchell Bell, Tony Johnson, Vernon Butler, and Levander Liggins) has helped push the team over the top.
Now the key will be did they help carry the team over to Year 3 in the Holtz regime and will the younger players recruited by Holtz be ready to keep the program on an upward trend?
It seems that every college football fan has a hot sports opinion about Skip Holtz. Do you see him sustaining long term success in Ruston?
I think he can have the same kind of success he had at East Carolina. It all depends on how well he does early and what kind of offers he gets in the future. Will he be eager to move on to a bigger school or will he stick around and keep the program rolling?
Tech has only been able to put back-to-back wining seasons together three times since moving to D-1 in 1988. They have the recruiting base (Within 5 hours of Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, etc..) to build a program. There are no huge P5 programs in the area to compete with (LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State are probably the closest), as far as competing for advertising dollars and fans in the seats. Tech has the potential to do what Southern Miss did for over a decade or what East Carolina is doing. Will it happen under Skip Holtz? Who knows, but I think it's possible.
Kenneth Dixon is at it again this season with 519 rushing yards (5.0 YPC) and eight touchdowns, one of which was a 99 yard instant TD. Who else should UTSA fans look out for on offense?
They are mixing it up better than they did a year ago. Look for them to get the ball in the hands of Hunter Lee, Carlos Henderson, and Tevin King on some misdirection stuff. They are going to try and stretch the field with Henderson and Sterling Griffin. Trent Taylor and Hunter Lee are tough in the middle because they have a knack for finding a hole in the defense. Sokol will go to Taylor a lot when he needs a first down.
The Bulldogs are at their best when they are mixing up runs and passes, stretching the field with long passes, keeping defensive backs honest with screens, and not just running Dixon up the middle over and over.
The Bulldog defense clamped down against UTEP, allowing just three points and 224 Miner offensive yards. How was Louisiana Tech able to deliver such a dominating defensive performance?
Same way they did it to UNT and ULL - get after the quarterback and force him to beat you. Bringing extra pressure helps shut down the run and at the same time it forces the quarterback to get the ball out quick. if he can't take advantage of the one-on-one coverage, it will be a long day at the office. With UTSA starting a young quarterback, I fully expect the Bulldogs to employ this strategy again.
Again, it's just a bad deal for UTSA on the injury front. hopefully they will get everyone back and make a run at another winning season. UTSA was a preseason favorite for a reason, they have a ton of talent. This won't be a blowout like UTEP was by any means. For Tech, they have to take advantage of the opportunity presented and try to put as much distance in the standings between them and their main competition (Rice, UTSA) as possible.