Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ag Football Preview: #23 Louisiana Tech

This game was a big deal for La Tech when it was scheduled.  They don't typically get a big program to come to Louisiana and play them but because of our move to the SEC and the need to fill two additional OoC games on relatively short notice they got their wish.

As strange as this sounds, Hurricane Isaac actually helped them out.  With the Bulldogs 5-0 and ranked for the first time since the '90s, the Aggies stand as the last big road block keeping them from a very realistic undefeated season.

This is a program that has moved the football and scored points.  They've hung 50 on all but one of their opponents (could only muster 44 at UVA) and as a result, they are currently the #3 scoring offense in all of college football..

They are led by their senior QB Colby Cameron, their reserve RB Kenneth Dixon (Tevin King tore his ACL vs. Illinois), and their superstar wide receiver Quinton Patton.

Cameron has thrown for 1,456 yards and 13 TDs without an INT this season on 123-of-180 passing.  Patton is a JUCO transfer who led the team last season with 79 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 TDs.  This season he again leads the team in all three categories (34/532/5) - by a wide margin.

So, how did the Bulldogs get to 5-0 and a #23 national ranking?
W at Houston 59-49
W vs Rice 56-37
W at Illinois 52-24
W at Virginia 44-38
W vs UNLV 58-31

That isn't murderer's row.  Their five previous opponents have a combined season record of 8-21 (8-16 if you factor out the La Tech game).  UH has the BEST winning percentage of that group at .400 (they're 2-3 on the year).

Interestingly, they haven't played a conference game yet - it's because the WAC only has 7 teams this season, including UTSA and Texas State. 

Lets dive in a little deeper.....

There isn't a very good way to sugar coat this so I'm just going to say it....they have played the WORST collective group of defenses I think I've ever seen an offense get to face over a five game stretch.
           Vs. LaT         Season Avg.
           Yds Pts    Yds (rk)   Pts (rk)
           =======    ====================
 Houston   598  59    487 (113) 31.6 (94)
    Rice   609  56    506 (117) 38.7 (114)
Illinois   403  52    351 (37)  28.3 (78)
Virginia   385  44    401 (72)  34.0 (100)
    UNLV   622  58    475 (108) 35.0 (102)

Of course the first thing that you want to yell at me is, "Well, they've all played La Tech's offense, which has skewed their numbers!"  I, of course, would counter that by pointing out that if you factor out the game La Tech was involved in with each team, not a single one of their scoring defenses changes by even one full touchdown.

The best of those defenses, Illinois, just lost to Penn State (!?!) 35-7 and to Wisconsin 31-14 to open their conference schedule.

So yes, their offense has been very potent but it is VASTLY over rated - and I used all caps & itallics on that.

All that said, they do get a reprieve as a result of our depth chart.  You might remember that LB Steven Jenkins and S Howard Matthews were both suspended for this game during the summer.  To compound that, Steven Campbell hasn't played since SCSt and Deshazor Everett came out of the game last week with what looked like an arm injury and did not return.  We are razor thin in our secondary for this game.  This would have been a great week to have off so we could rest up for LSU.

And on the other side of the ball, things are really bad for them.  Like Torbush bad.  Darnell bad.  Yeah, I went there.

They are ranked 119th in total defense and 106th in scoring defense - remember, that is out of 120 teams.  The crazy thing is that only one of their opponents has a scoring offense better than 70th nationally....and they're STILL getting torched.  Only Illinois didn't best their season total offense average....and of the other four, only Rice didn't best theirs by 125+ yards.

They are also 119th in pass defense.  Someone needs to let the trainers know that we're going to need some ice for Johnny's shoulder immediately following the game.

Historically, A&M doesn't lose to La Tech.  We're 10-0 against the Bulldogs with an average score of 42-12.  We last faced them in 2010 and beat them 48-16 at Kyle Field.  I know that our last two trips to Shreveport were ones we want to forget but La Tech isn't Georgia and it isn't snowing.

Here's the deal.....the only way we lose this game is if we beat ourselves.  I expect the Bulldogs to come out firing and the crowd is going to be into it and there is going to be a lot of passion and I can see it being close in the first quarter and even into the second quarter but they aren't going to be able to keep up on either side of the ball over four quarters.

Other random notes of interest that I came across:
  • Sonny Dykes is HC - he took over when Derek Dooley left to take the Tennessee job
  • Dykes was co-OC under Leach at tech, was on the staff when KK was in lubbock, and is son of tech legend Spike Dykes
  • Brought Tony Franklin in as OC to run the spread
  • 8-5 last year (won the WAC)
  • Lost by only 1 point to UH last year
  • Took MSU to OT last year
  • Beat Ole Miss 27-7 last year
  • Lost by only a TD to TCU in the Pointsetta Bowl (there's a stat that would have been more impressive last week)
  • 86 Ryan Allen - P - ltransfer from Oregon State - last year's Ray Guy Award winner, 1st team All-American - Dustin Harris beware.

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