Louisiana Tech's scrimmage this past weekend was a case of both the offense and defense trying to build around what they have coming back, while mixing in the new guys. On offense, the new guy that everyone is watching is Florida transfer Jeff Driskel.
Driskel is a big quarterback and he can run really well. He fits what Skip Holtz is trying to do rather well and he has a strong enough arm to take advantage of Carlos Henderson's speed on the outside. Speaking of Henderson, expect the sophomore to greatly improve on his freshman campaign of 569 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. Driskel will have some nice weapons with Henderson, Trent Taylor, and Paul Turner all coming back.
The offensive line so far has been the five guys with the most experience: Kirby Wixson, Joseph Brunson, David Mahaffey, Darrell Brown, and Jens Danielson. Redshirt freshman Shane Carpenter has impressed and LSU Derek Edinburgh is also working to carve out a spot on the line.
On defense, seniors Vernon Butler and Vontarrius Dora have been moving up and down the line, playing different positions. They've made it extremely difficult on the offensive line to pass protect. Dora will likely play a hybrid role, where he stands up in more of a 3-4 look at times. Redshirt freshman Jaylon Ferguson appears to be Dora's understudy and has shown major quickness odd the edge.
At linebacker, Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker has several safeties moving up to get more speed on the field. Michael Mims (5-11 198), a reserve safety last year, is running with the first team this spring alongside Beau Fitte (6-0 217) and Russell Farris (5-11 215.) Middle linebacker Nick Thomason is sitting out spring drills, as are former safeties Cj Cleveland and Lloyd Grogan.
Looking to lock down a backup job at middle linebacker are freshmen Brandon Durman and Quanta Moore. Don't be surprised to see Farris get several snaps in the middle, he has a great nose for the ball.
Safety is still the deepest position on the team with Secdrick Cooper backing up Kentrell Brice and Xavier Woods. Cornerback is also secure with seniors Adarius Barnes and Bryson Abraham. Sophomore cornerbacks Michael Jacob and Roland Dunn are getting plenty of work on the second team.
The offense will have a power running attack behind Driskel and Kenneth Dixon. Having Henderson on the field will really spread the field and allow Dixon to room to run. Freshman Tywun Walters (5-11 218) has had a good spring and should earn a good amount of carries behind Dixon.
The Bulldogs look plenty deep enough to contend for the western division in Conference USA again.The offensive line will need to have five guys stand out and play well together and they will need to develop some depth on the defensive line and linebacker. While several young players will be relied upon, the veterans are in place to have another strong year.