In years past, it was Boise State that was tough against the run. This year, it's Louisiana Tech. In the past, it was Boise State with the great special teams; now its Tech. This Wednesday night, the Broncos face a determined and emotional Bulldog team in a key WAC tilt in Bronco Stadium.
In its last game, Boise
State was the decided 10 ½ point
underdog against explosive Oregon. This Wednesday, the roles are reversed for
the Broncos as they will be the favorites against rising Louisiana Tech. This time around, it will be the Bulldogs
that will try to shock the football world in a key early Western Athletic
The fact that Tech has done something Boise
State has never been able to
do—beat a team from the Southeastern Conference—is not lost on the Bronco
team. The Bulldogs downed 2007 Liberty
Bowl champion Mississippi State
in the season opener while Boise State
is winless against the SEC in four tries.
The Bulldogs also hung tough with last year's Orange Bowl champion Kansas.
Tech coach Derek Dooley is cut in the mold of most southern
coaches and loves to run the football.
He has the Bulldogs averaging 163.7 yards per game. With former Boise
State commit Taylor Bennett pulling
the strings; it's the definition of a balanced offense with Bennett leading the
team to 163.3 yards through the air.
Dooley has the Tech fan base excited and the team playing
with emotion. Former Bulldog great and
National Football League Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is highly complimentary
of Dooley: "I love our coach. He is educating the community and the Tech
family about thinking big. You have to
create pride in your university, Derek does that. I'm excited about him and the program. It takes someone like Derek to get out and
lead us and shepherd us and that's what he's doing."
Dooley is a former special teams coach and he has the
Bulldogs shining in that department formerly dominated by Boise
State. Dooley hopes to exploit that difference in
Wednesday night's game.
Bennett is 41-of-100 for 490 yards, two touchdowns and three
interceptions this season. He selected Georgia Tech after initially committing to Boise
State. He graduated in four years at Georgia Tech and received an academic waiver to pursue a master's business degree in Ruston. His top career effort was a 326-yard passing
performance against West Virginia
in the 2007 Gator Bowl.
Sophomore Philip Livas has been thrilling this season as the
Tech playmaker. Livas has exploded for
173 yards on 11 pass receptions, has 116 yards on three kick returns, has 85
yards on two punt returns (42.5 average) and has carried the ball on reverses
for 115 yards on six carries. Philip Beck has stepped in for Wheeler and has five catches for 46 yards. He was the only Bulldog receiver to get a
catch in every game last season and finished with 30 receptions for 359 yards.
Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter lead the ground game with
139 and 133 yards respectively although as mentioned above the Broncos need to
be alert for Livas on every play. Jackson
needs a little over 1,000 yards to be Louisiana Tech's all-time leading rusher. Porter rushed for over 600 yards last season.
In years past, it was Boise
State that was stingy against the
run. Not last year against Nevada
and not last week against Oregon. Nope, this year it's the Louisiana Tech
defense that has stolen the Broncos' thunder—the Bulldogs have allowed just
93.3 yards per game this season. Meanwhile,
the Broncos have opened the gate for opposing rushers to run through, averaging
a whopping 148.3 yards per game.
In fact, Louisiana
has allowed just six offensive touchdowns this season. Kansas
was inside the Bulldog 20 nine times and came away with just three touchdowns
and three field goals. It was the
Bulldogs' fourth quarter domination of Mississippi
State that propelled that victory. In the final stanza, Tech held the SEC team
to zero first downs, negative 10 yards rushing and 16 yards passing for a net
total of six yards. Dooley's squad has
allowed just three points in the fourth quarter all season.
leads the team and is #3 in the WAC in sacks with 2.5. Antonio Baker has 32 tackles, a forced fumble
and an interception, senior linebacker Quin Harris has 26 stops, safety Deon Young
21 and cornerback Stevan Howze 20. Young
had 72 tackles in just seven starts last season and had a key interception in
the red zone vs. Mississippi State.
LB Kiamni Washington is coming off an incredible
award-winning special teams effort against Southeastern Louisiana that saw him
block a field goal that was returned for a touchdown, and also forced a fumble
that led to another score "It really boosted my confidence," he said.
"I know with my heart that if I focus I can really make plays
Placekicker Brad Oestriecher is
5-7 in field goals this season including a 50-yarder. All-WAC punter Chris Keagle averages 41.8 and
is very adept at planting the ball inside the 20.
The Broncos and Bulldogs clash
in an ESPN nationally-televised WAC battle Wednesday night at 6 in Bronco