Arkansas brought back 9 starters on defense from last year.
La Tech started a RS freshman at QB.
J’Mar Smith wasn’t intimidated.
The Bulldogs did an outstanding job of containing Arkansas’ well known running game in the first half. The Tech defense, which brought back only 2 or 3 starters from last year, forced two turnovers, with both Xavier Woods and Houston Baptist graduate transfer Prince Sam picking off Austin Allen, who was making his first start himself. The game was tied 14 apiece at halftime.
The Hogs were shut down in the 3rd quarter offensively, but the Arkansas defense tightened up, allowing only 2 FGs. A solid drive in the 4th was all Arkansas needed. A few 4th down conversions allowed Arkansas to avoid upset by 1 point on a day where upsets were everywhere. This is the 2nd year in a row La Tech has narrowly missed upsetting a Power 5 team (Kansas State needed 3OT to survive last year).
Special teams were both a blessing and a curse to La Tech. Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson recorded 123 return yards on kick and punt returns. However, Jonathan Barnes, a normally reliable kicker, went only 2/4 on Field Goals in a game decided by 1 point.
Louisiana Tech recorded 291 yards of offense, while allowing 297 yards from Arkansas (106 rushing). J’Mar Smith threw 19/31 for 212 yards, but the run game for Tech only amassed 79 yards.
La Tech’s freshman QB looked good against an SEC defense. He did throw 1 interception, but how much can you ask of a freshman on the road in his first start?
Regardless of the outcome, if La Tech can compete with an SEC west team, even a middling one, this should quiet any doubts about the Bulldogs’ ability to compete in C-USA.
The Bulldogs return to Ruston for their home opener against FCS opponent South Carolina State. They then go on the road at Texas Tech.
Look out, Red Raiders.