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As the LA Tech Offense Changes, So Must the Defense

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When Sonny Dykes has a spread offense going in Ruston, he wanted a bend but don't break defense to go with it. As the offense changes to more of a pro style, the defense will need to adjust.

Manny Diaz will bring an aggressive approach to the Bulldog's defense.
Manny Diaz will bring an aggressive approach to the Bulldog's defense.
USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana Tech had a quick strike offense in 2012, able to score from anywhere on the field.  Coach Dykes wanted to put points on the board quickly, but he didn't want the opposition to score just as fast.  The plan was to force the opposing offense underneath and make them sustain long drives.  The more plays per possession they ran, the more likely they were to make a mistake.  That could be a turnover, a penalty, or an incomplete pass; whatever it took to either get the ball or force a third and long.

In 2013, the pieces weren't on the field to make that spread offense work.  There was a new offensive line trying to protect the quarterback and new receivers trying to figure out how to get open and make plays.  The result was few touchdowns and many turnovers.

Heading into this season, Louisiana Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz has a few more weapons at his disposal.  Quarterback Cody Sokol transferred in from Iowa and former LSU Wide Receiver Paul Turner will be eligible.  Kenneth Dixon will benefit from a rebuilt offensive line and the addition of some blocking tight ends.

With the offense resembling more of a pro style look than a spread, the defense will also have a different look.  Instead of playing off the ball and reacting to the play, new LA Tech Defensive Coordinator wants to be more aggressive.

Diaz wants to dictate to the offense where they can go.  He wants to flood one zone to force the ball to another area.  He will use blitzes to force quicker throws.  In short, he wants to make more big plays and force more turnovers.  Tech did a decent job in forcing turnovers a year ago, but they were negative in the overall turnover battle (-0.25, 79th out of 123 FBS teams).

"I think to have any type of success, it all starts upfront. I think there are some guys up front that we feel like can use," Diaz said in February. "The easiest thing to do in football is run in a straight line up the field. Starting at the defensive tackle position I think we have some guys there that can cause some excitement, in terms of our ability to be sound there. I think if we continue our progress on the defensive line that will be the foundation of our success. On defense you have to stop the run and limit big plays."

This new approach will fit better with Coach Holtz's style.  It could cause the opposing defense to spend more time on the field.  Tech did not win too many Time of Possession battles last season.  The Bulldogs were 119th out of 123 teams in 2013 (25:54).

An experienced defensive back seven along with the addition of veteran Defensive End Houston Bates, Diaz will have the necessary players to implement his style.  Bates should be able to put pressure on the quarterback and force ill advised passes.  If Tech can improve in the Time of Possession battle and in the turnover battle, they should be able to improve in a category that really matters/ the win-loss column.