Louisiana Tech, coming off big wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and North Texas, is making a statement that it belongs with Conference USA's elite this winter, but head coach Skip Holtz doesn't want to start making bowl plans ahead of this week's matchup with FCS opponent Northwestern State.
"We are getting better as a football team as this goes on," explained Holtz in his weekly press conference. "Nobody has ever gone to a bowl with two wins. Nobody has ever won a conference championship with two wins. Those two wins are great and I am proud of the way this team has played but we have to make sure we stay focused with what we have to get done and there is plenty. I think these players will tell you that there is plenty we can improve on as a football team."
Getting off to a quick start will be a point of emphasis for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Holtz will also want his team to stay efficient in the red zone, while also making sure he gets his younger players in the game early and often. There will also be a focus on shutting down the opponent late in the game, with the second string players challenged to finish off what the first team starts.
The Bulldog's offense is a big reason for the team's early season turnaround, with Cody Sokol coming in at quarterback and executing at a high level. With so much progress already made, Holtz still sees room for more improvement.
"Overall, there were a lot of good things on offense," added Holtz, who is in his second season with the Bulldogs. "I still think we have a long way to go, to be the type of offense that we want to be. I will still continue to say through the first six games, that we will be a work in progress."
The Bulldogs have started slow in all three of their games this season, including not scoring a point in the first quarter against North Texas.
"I think Cody is dialed in early in the game, he has not made a bad read yet," offered Holtz. "I don't know if he needs to get hit a couple times to get competitive and make some of the throws he is making later in the game... Offensively it seems like it just takes us a bit to get going. Once we get rolling, Cody gets locked in and our receivers start making plays, it has been fun to watch."
The defense under Manny Diaz has been lights out, but Holtz wants to tighten things up when the second-string enters games.
"Unfortunately teams have driven the field twice against us and it makes the numbers look worse," Holtz said. "The scary thing about that is that those guys are one play away from starting for us. That is why I think the depth on this team is a huge issue for us right now."
With Auburn coming up next week, followed by the conference home opener against UTEP; it will be important for the Bulldogs to rest up their starters and put the Demons away early — giving the second-string adequate time to quell Holtz's worries.
Louisiana Tech leads the all time series against Northwestern State 53-19-5, but the two teams have not matched up in 20 years. This is the 79th meeting against the Demons for LA Tech, which is the Bulldogs longest series after Louisiana-Lafayette, (86 meetings) whom the Bulldogs also played this season.