Returning some talented skill players on offense and seven starters on defense, Holtz is hoping to make some noise in Conference USA in 2014.
The good news on offense is that the Bulldogs return sophomore quarterback Ryan Higgins (6-1, 206) after an up-and-down first year running the offense. Playing in nine games last season he completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,715 yards and six touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Adding three rushing touchdowns as well, Higgins should be a much improved quarterback in year two for the Bulldogs.
Making the passing game dangerous is the return of three veteran receivers including 6-0, 194 Sterling Griffin and 5-9, 195 senior Hunter Lee. Last season Griffin caught 33 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns while Lee added 16 catches for 191 yards and a score. Also back is 5-8 Trent Taylor,a player that caught 28 passes with two touchdowns last year.
Helping to take some of the pressure off Higgins in the passing game will be talented tailback Kenneth Dixon. A 5-10, 220 junior, Higgins ran for 917 yards and scored four touchdowns in 10 games last season. Averaging 6.1 yards per carry, Higgins will have his work cut out this season with Louisiana Tech having to replace three starters up front on the offensive line. Back to lead the group is massive tackle Mitchell Bell (6-3, 348, Sr.).
Bringing back much of your defense from the previous year would seem like a big positive but that may not be the case for Louisiana Tech after the Bulldogs gave up 408.2 yards and 26.2 points per game last season. Making the news even worse for new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is that just one defensive lineman and one linebacker returns from a starting role one year ago.
That leaves a lot of pressure on an experienced secondary to get the job done. Cornerbacks Le’Vander Liggins (5-10, 193, Sr.) and Adarius Barnes (5-11, 183, Jr.) return as do safeties Thomas McDonald (6-4, 180) and Terrell Pinson (6-2, 209). Throw in versatile defender Xavier Woods (5-11, 194) and you have a group that should allow the young Bulldog front seven to grow up early in the 2014 season.
By the time Louisiana Tech gets to Auburn on Sept. 27 it will already have been a long season for the Bulldogs after opening the season at Oklahoma with games at Louisiana-Lafayette and North Texas the following two weeks. With a breather against Northwestern State before traveling to the Plains for the first meeting since 2009, the Bulldogs will be looking to shock the world and build some momentum going into a stretch of winnable games in Conference USA.