2010 NCAA Football Preview: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2009 Record: 4-8 (3-5 in WAC)
2009 Bowl: None
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Sonny Dykes (First Time Head Coach)
Non-Conference Schedule: Grambling State (9/4), at Texas A&M (9/11), Navy (9/18), Southern Miss (9/25)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.2 points per game (5th in WAC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 184 (5th in WAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 188 (7th in WAC)
Total Yards/Game: 372 (7th in WAC)

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 25.8 points per game (2nd in WAC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 162 (4th in WAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 205 (6th in WAC)
Total Yards/Game: 368 (2nd in WAC)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.58 per game (2nd in WAC)
Penalties: 54 yards per game (5th in WAC)

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 6
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Ross Jenkins, Sr (172 of 290 for 2095 yds, 17 TD, 5 INT, 174 ypg)
Rushing: RB Tyrone Duplessis, Soph (70 carries for 277 yds, 3.9 ypc, 30 ypg)
Receiving: WR Cruz Williams, Soph (15 rec, 259 yds, 3 TD, 1.3 rec/game, 17 ypc)
Receiving: WR Phillip Livas, Sr (20 rec, 205 yds, 1.7 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Adrien Cole, Jr (93)
Sacks: DE Matt Broha, Jr (4)
Interceptions: CB Josh Victorian, Sr (3)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #84
Pre-Snap Read: #104
Sporting News: #72

2010 Pre-Season WAC Prediction
Athlon Sports: #4
Phil Steele: #4

2010 Bowl Predictions
Athlon Sports: Hawaii Bowl (vs. UCF)

Statistically speaking Louisiana Tech was a pretty decent football team last year.  They played a tough out of conference schedule and got handled by Navy and Auburn but put up a good fight against LSU before losing by 8 points. In conference they lost 3 games (Utah State, Idaho, Fresno State) by a total of 5 points and only lost to Boise State by 10. If Tech wins those 3 games they go 7-5 instead of 4-8 but that's why they play the games. They had a 5 game stretch from October 24 through November 21 in which they lost 5 games by a total of 23 points and two of those were the LSU and Boise State game (the other three were the three they lost by a combined 5 pts). Derek Dooley departs from the Bulldogs this year with a career record of 17-20 (12-12 in conference) to take over at Tennessee. Sonny Dykes comes from Arizona to take over at Louisiana Tech. We reached out to Jonathan Nida of Scout.com's Louisiana Tech site Here Come The Dawgs to learn more about the 2010 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

This year’s team has a lot of depth at WR. Our OL rotation is about 12 deep and most of them got a decent amount of PT last season. The major victory of the off-season was retaining DC Tommy Spangler who’s had the defense trending up every year since his arrival. If the trend continues, this defense will be a strength of this team. Our biggest question mark is at QB. Dykes’ system requires precision passing, confidence, and great command of the playbook. Jenkins was a game manager last season and that won’t get the job done this season. DL depth is always an issue for all but a few elite programs in the country…it’s an issue at Louisiana Tech.

The first major test this year will be against Texas A&M. What do you hope to learn from that game and what would you view as a successful outing against the Aggies?

I don’t believe in moral victories, so success is a win. What I hope to learn about is how this team deals with a major program with a major home field advantage. Dooley’s teams were tough, but we lacked the offensive output to jump out and put the big boys behind the 8-ball. Our defense plays solid until continuous strings of 3 and outs tire them out. My hope is the offense is able to maintain drives and strike quick. Success is a win, the Aggie faithful in their seats until the final gun would be a good sign for the rest of our season (and a bad sign for the rest of the WAC)

What team on the schedule do you want to beat the most?

Nothing would make me happier than sending the Broncos out with a loss on their (blue) turf. Number 2 would be Nevada who has had our number just as much as Boise the past 4 years or so.

Who do you consider your top rivals?

Tech is in the strange position of not having a real rivalry relationship. Part of this is that there is minimal fan interaction in the far flung WAC. Some of our more traditional in-state rivalry games haven’t been played in half a decade. I don’t really see this changing unless Tech is able to gain entry to Conference USA.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Jay Dudley is a guy who doesn’t get a lot of press, but he’s an athletic freak at LB and he flies to the ball.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

From a pro-potential standpoint, it’s probably OT Rob McGill. Phillip Livas has been electrifying and should challenge for the career record for returns for a TD this season. What’s really amazing is that he’s done all of this injured most of his career. If his turf toe is under control, he’ll be amazing.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Tough to say, but I’ll go with Adrien Cole. Cole is a force at the MLB position. He packs a punch and seems to really be growing from a great hitter into a great football player.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

One of the QBs. I don’t really care which one, but this defense is going to be solid enough to go bowling if the offense can transition to the Dykes/Franklin system. If the QB can’t get it done in that system, we’re done. If they can get it done, watch out!

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

This is a tie between two receivers in Ahmad Paige (transfer from Tennessee) and Tim Molton (transfer from LSU). Both guys were highly rated out of high school and appear to be ready to make some big contributions if the QBs can get them the ball.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Josh Tillman (JUCO DL) will be called upon to help early and he appears quite able. Freshmen Seth Ancar is probably one of the more celebrated defensive signees this year, but he may not see the field until 2011.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

I think success depends on whether or not we’re bowl eligible. We lost a lot of close ones last year and a year of maturity should help with that. We’ve got 7 home games (including a neutral site game in Shreveport…an hour down the road) and we’ve got a lot of great contributors back. Worst case: 5-7…Best case: 9-3…most likely 7-5.

Make sure you check out Scout.com's Here Comes The Dawgs for your Louisiana Tech and recruiting needs this football season.

Previous WAC Previews
Boise State Broncos
Fresno State Bulldogs
New Mexico State Aggies

Next Up: San Jose State Spartans

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