Coming into this game, Louisiana Tech was 3-0 at home but 0-3 on the road. Today’s road win was badly needed.
The score wasn’t close, but it didn’t feel as one-sided as it would suggest. La Tech gave the ball away 4 times via 3 fumbles plus an interception that ended Ryan Higgins streak of good decisions. They gave up 399 yards on defense to UMass, plus 179 yards in kick returns and a 41 yard punt return. Defense and special teams continue to struggle, while the offense had some less than clean plays.
That being said, for every struggle, there were plenty of things to be happy about. The Bulldog offense put up 690 yards of total offense and 56 points, making this their highest scoring game thus far. They went 6/8 on 3rd down. Imagine if they hadn’t had the 4 turnovers; this could have gotten a lot uglier.
Defensively, Tech continues to give up a lot of yardage, but they also can make big plays. UMass was only able to convert 4/12 3rd downs. Andrew Ford was sacked SEVEN times. Xavier Woods got another interception and Jaylon Ferguson continues to make a name for himself as he strip-sacked Ford. The fumble was recovered by Jordan Harris who ran it in for a defensive touchdown.
Special teams was again a struggle that needs to be cleaned up. Jonathan Barnes was quietly good, however, going 8/8 on PATs. He never had to kick a FG and Gerald Shouse only had to punt twice. Not needing your kicker and punter much is pretty good, but it’s less impressive when you have 4 turnovers.
UMass shot itself in the foot several times. 7 penalties for 73 yards and missed both field goal attempts by different kickers. It also didn’t help that Minutemen were dropping like flies. UMass was running out of players. The holder got a kick off return and the commentators had to bring up that you don’t want to take away redshirts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the clear star of the game. Tech WR Carlos Henderson was a 1-man offense. He had 12 receptions for 326 yards and 5 touchdowns. He averaged 27.2 yards a catch.
Overall, La Tech got its first road win in convincing fashion, but there’s a lot that needs to be cleaned up before the Rivalry in Dixie. We’ll see if this builds their confidence on the road as they travel to a surging FIU team as they take on the Golden Panthers next week.
UMass falls to 1-6, but to be fair, they’ve had a tough schedule with games against Mississippi State, Florida, and Boston College. It doesn’t get any easier as the Minutemen will go play at South Carolina next week.