The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have released their depth chart, and there are some noteworthy items. Let’s break it down by offense, defense and special teams.
To no one’s surprise, J’Mar Smith will be the starting quarterback. Westin Elliot is the backup with Aaron Allen as the number three. Adrian Hardy, who Tech will have to rely on in the pass game, starts at outside receiver opposite Isaiah Graham. Bobby Holly and Griffin Hebert will also start at receiver.
The starting offensive line consists entirely of upperclassmen, with Kody Russey starting at center. Ethan Reed, Gewhite Stallworth, Drew Kirkpatrick and Willie Allen round out the men in the trenches.
The biggest thing to notice here is running back. While Jaqwis Dancy seemed to be the most productive running back last year, he and Justin Henderson are listed as backups behind Israel Tucker. It will be interesting to see how the carries are split between the three backs.
As expected, Bob Diaco’s arrival comes with a change to a 3-4 defense. Senior Courtney Wallace will start at nose tackle, with Ka’Derrion Mason and Milton Williams at end. Willie Baker moves from end to outside linebacker, while James Jackson moves to that position from safety. Trey Baldwin and Collin Scott will start inside.
To no one’s surprise, Amik Robertson will start at corner. But L’Jarius Sneed, who had been the opposite cornerback, will move to safety alongside redshirt freshman Bee Jay Williamson. Michael Sam will take over the cornerback position.
There are some noteworthy shifts here, with a defensive end and safety converting to outside linebackers. The change probably won’t be much for Baker, since he’s primarily going to be used an edge rusher, just like he was before. It might be a tougher transition for Jackson to go to that role from playing safety. But when you’re trying to move from playing two linebackers to four, someone is going to be called on to be flexible.
Something to especially watch is the safety position. Tech has two returning starters, but neither of them are starting at safety. Jackson is moving to linebacker as mentioned, but even more noteworthy is that redshirt freshman Bee Jay Williamson is starting ahead of redshirt senior Darryl Lewis. Diaco and Holtz must really like what they see from Williamson to make that move.
The questions about what role Jacob Barnes will play seem to be answered. His only appearance on the depth chart is as backup punter. Brady Farlow is listed as starter, while Bailey Hale will start at kicker. Don’t be surprised if Barnes ends up redshirting this year.
Reeves Blankenship will start at deep snapper, backed up by Noah White. Notre Dame transfer Kyle Conrad doesn’t make the depth chart.
Starting cornerback Michael Sam will return punts, and backup wide receiver Smoke Harris will return kickoffs.
One of the big questions would be how the defense would look, and now we know. Some players are having to move to linebacker to satisfy Diaco’s 3-4 scheme, and there’s been some shifting in the secondary. But assuming everyone knows their role, this could work. Despite losing every starting defensive lineman, Tech will be starting two seniors at that role.
In fact, outside of Bee Jay Williamson, every starter is a sophomore or older, and the vast majority are upperclassmen. There’s experience all over the starting lineup.
One of the biggest surprises is that Dancy isn’t the number one running back. Perhaps “Izzy” Tucker has shown a lot of potential this offseason. Either way, how that position is handled down the line will be something to watch.