True freshmen Deldrick Canty, Russell Farris, and Secdrick Cooper saw plenty of action as true freshmen on defense in 2014. Some of the reason was for added depth, but mostly it was to get them some much needed experience.
Skip Holtz has a pretty veteran group of starters returning this season, but whoever lands on the second unit is going to be largely untested. Canty will lock down a starting defensive end spot and Farris could land a starting spot at linebacker. More than likely Farris and Cooper will help man a second unit that will consist mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
Several members of the 2015 signing class will have to play immediately this fall. Freshmen middle linebackers Quanta Moore (redshirt freshman) and Brandon Durman will battle for a backup spot in fall camp. Freshmen corners Ephraim Kitchen and Aaron Roberson could both play right away this fall. Redshirt freshmen Cedric Johnson and Jaylon Ferguson will play on the defensive line, but true freshmen Immanuel Turner and Courtney Wallace could also get the call.
Just like last season, the reason to play true freshmen is not just to add depth for the current season, but to also have game tested depth the following year.
This pays dividends in recruiting, where Holtz and Co. have had success bringing in top talent. The strategy has not just paid off in Louisiana, but also in Mississippi, Arkansas, Houston, and East Texas. Holtz has proven he will play the best players, veteran or not.
Going into 2016, the Bulldogs will be an extremely young team. Similar to what UTSA and Old DOminion are facing this season, next year's Bulldogs will be deep in talent but shallow in experience.
Take a look at what next year's depth chart could look like:
Hypothetical 2016 Depth Chart (Not Including 2016 Commitments)
Projected Returning Starters In Bold
Price Wilson, So. Alex Woodall, So. J'Mar Smith, Fr.
Jarred Craft, Jr. Tywun Walters, So. Jaquis Dancy, Fr.
Carlos Henderson, Jr. Marcus Gaines, Jr.
Trent Taylor, Sr. Alfred Smith, Fr.
Connor Smith, Sr. Kam McKnight, So.
Marlon Watts, Jr. Javante Woodard, So. or Rashid Bonnette, So.
Shane Carpenter, So. DeVante Lovette, RFr.
David Mahaffey, Sr. Ethan Reed, RFr. (or Chris Aye, Jr.)
Joseph Brunson, Sr. Cam Manning, Jr. (or Ethan Reed, RFr.)
Derek Edinburgh, Sr. Deonte McCready, So.
Darrell Brown, Sr. O'Shea Dugas, So.
Jaylon Ferguson, So. Brandon Brinson, RFr. or Mathey Ydarraga, So.
Aaron Brown, Sr. Cedric Johnson, So. or Courtney Wallace, So.
Hakim Gray, Jr. Jordan Bradford, So. or LaDante Davenport, So.
Deldrick Canty, Jr. Immanuel Turner, So.
Russell Farris, Jr. Collin Scott, So. or Dante Williams, So.
Quanta Moore, So. Brandon Durman, So.
Michael Mims, Jr. Donald Freeman, RFr. or Solomon Hunter, So.
Michael Jacob, Jr. Ephraim Kitchen, So.
Secdrick Cooper, Jr. Johnny Shaw, So.
Xavier Woods, Sr. Theron Williams, RFr. or James Jackson, RFr.
Roland Dunn, Jr. Kirkland McCulloch, Jr. or Aaron Roberson, So.
Louisiana Tech could have as many as nine returning starters in 2016, and that's assuming Xavier Woods doesn't leave early for the NFL (Yes, he is that good.)
The players on the above list don't have much experience today. That's why it's imperative that Holtz gets some of these guys on the field now. The 2016 signing class currently has 13 members and all of them are high school players. Holtz is building this thing the right way, but at some point there will be growing pains again.
2106 will be that year, but Holtz and Athletic Director Tommy McClelland have planned for this occasion. There are still two P5 games on the schedule. While Arkansas is improving, Texas Tech is in a little of a downturn. UMASS was added to the schedule and there will be an FCS game. Not bad for a schedule that at one point feautured Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Mississippi State.
An easier schedule will help ease the growing pains. Tech will still have enough talent to shoot for a winning season, but they aren't likely to contend for a championship like they did in 2014 and like they are projected to in 2015.
The coaching staff is high on quarterback Price Wilson and he will have some veteran help at offensive line and receiver. While they will be in a rebuilding mode in 2016, that will set them up to have big years in 2017 and 2018. The Bulldogs will be loaded once again, just how Holtz is planning it.