Air Ruston!

Last season, Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley had his team playing inspired football that gave both Boise State and LSU fits. The Bulldogs now have a new coach, a new offense and a new game plan.


To say that new Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin want to air it out this fall is putting it mildly.  "We will run a fast-paced, no huddle, attacking offense that scores points and builds excitement," Franklin said.  Dykes and Franklin are bringing the Air Raid attack to Ruston this fall, ready or not.

Tech began a tremendous run with Tim Rattay and Luke McKown, both of which went on to the next level.  Since that duo, the Bulldogs' pass efficiency rating has hovered around 115 over the last six years. 

Dykes was previously the offensive coordinator at Arizona .  Franklin specializes in the spread attack, having led Middle Tennessee to its first bowl win last year.  He also was OC at Auburn and then helped Troy win two Sunbelt Conference titles.  The type of offense Franklin is installing, of course, depends on superb quarterback play.

Ross Jenkins (6-3, 212, Sr.) returns at quarterback (163-278 for 1,930 yards and 16 touchdowns last season) but he isn't the type of guy who can fling it all around the stadium 50 times or more a game.  Steve Ensminger, who originally transferred from Auburn , is more the pure passer that the Air Raid depends on but he too is only around for another year.  Ensminger (6-2, 225, Sr.) has a strong arm but does not have even one passing attempt in a college game.

Sophomore Colby Cameron (6-2, 190) was 14-26 for 142 yards last year with a 20-yard rushing touchdown as well.  Cameron threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 47 touchdown passes in his last two years in high school.  And the Bulldogs secured the commitment of Taylor Burch (6-2, 205) early in their 2010 class.  He may be the QB of the future.

Senior wide receiver Phillip Livas (5-8, 175) will be the go-to guy in this offense.  Livas has a great opportunity to finally show what he can do.  Despite his talent as a playmaker, he only had 20 catches for 205 yards.  Even so, Livas is the only returning player in the nation with touchdowns of 70 yards or more on a reception, a carry, punt return and kickoff return in his career.  R.P. Stuart (6-3, 215) presents a big target and had 17 receptions last season for 249 yards.  Stuart will be used in the "Y".  Redshirt freshman Jacarri Jackson (6-2, 185) is the secret weapon in the new offense working from the "X" position.  Jackson possesses good size and can get open deep, a key to the Air Raid offense.  Ahmad Paige is another transfer from Tennessee who sat out last year.  Paige is penciled in at the "Z".  Paige (6-1, 180) was a great high-school sprinter and has great leaping ability as well.  He should thrive in this offense.

 Richie Casey's arrival on the scene was a bit delayed by a knee injury which forced him to miss all of 2009.  He has great speed and athletic ability and will see a lot of playing time.  LSU transfer Tim Molton too suffered a knee injury last year but should be ready to go.  Molton (6-2, 170) will challenge at the inside "Z" position and could be a big star in this offense. 

Lyle Fitte (5-8, 185) looks to be the man in the backfield.  Fitte began his career as a wide receiver, catching nine passes for 72 yards last season.  In the new offense, Fitte will be used mostly as a receiver out of the backfield.  Junior Lennon Creer (6-1, 205) is a transfer from Tennessee and will get most of the carries.  Creer is a tough-nosed runner who can hit the hole.  Tyrone Duplessis (5-8, 185, So.) was hurt in his freshman year but still second on the team with 277 yards rushing.  Duplessis burned up LSU for 65 yards on 17 carries and will be a factor this fall. 

Pass blocking is essential to the spread offense.  Up front, Rob McGill (6-6, 310, Sr.) was a Second-Team All-WAC selection for the second consecutive season last year.  McGill has the muscle to create holes and is steady in the passing game as well.  Kevin Saia (6-2, 300, So.) moved into the left guard position for the final three games last season and is back this fall.  Recruited for his run blocking, Saia must now prove a worthy pass blocker in the new offense.

Senior Lon Roberts (6-3, 285) begins his third year as the starting center for the Bulldogs.  Stephen Warner looks to compete for the right guard position.  Warner (6-0, 300) also started the last three games of last year.  Cudahy Harmon (6-6, 310, Sr.) started the first seven games at right tackle for Tech before going down with an injury.  Despite his size, Harmon can move well. 

New defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler looks to build on recent improvement in the Louisiana Tech defense. 

Senior Mason Hitt has bulked up and is now 6-1 and 270.  He saw spot duty as a starter and recorded 33 tackles.  Hitt has the strength to get a good surge up the middle. 
Adrien Cole is the returning leader in tackles with 93.  Senior Ramone Randle (6-2, 300) hopes to start at the other tackle.  Junior Matt Broha led the Bulldogs with four sacks last year and is quick off the end.  The Louisiana Tech coaches want to turn him loose this fall.  Christian Lacey (6-1, 240, Jr.) is the projected right end.  Lacey started against Navy and finished with 21 tackles.  Spangler is pushing Lacey to provide more pressure in the pass rush.

Big redshirt freshman Just Ellis (6-2, 330) has the bulk and the raw ability to be a force in the Bulldog defense.  He will rotate with Randle. 

Junior Adrien Cole became the leader of the defense last season making 93 tackles, four for loss, with two sacks from his middle linebacker position.  Cole received All-WAC honors for his performance.  Cole is a fierce hitter and moves well but could play on the strong side as well. 
Dusty Rust (6-3, 220) is a tough, dependable tackler with a great motor.  He finished with 25 tackles last season and if Cole remains in the middle, Rust will likely patrol the strong side.   

Junior Jay Dudley (6-3, 225) has the weak side locked up after making 75 tackles, four for loss, with 2.5 sacks last year. 
Dudley moves well but needs to work on defending the pass.

The Bulldogs are rooting for Solomon Randle, a 5-11, 235-pound sophomore to earn a spot in the middle.  Randle started against Idaho and had a huge spring, making nine tackles in the spring game.  Whether Randle starts or not, he should be a key player in the unit.
Redshirt freshman Rufus Porter (6-1, 215) had a sensational year on the scout team last season and will be a factor very soon.  Porter is a great athlete with range that should land him a spot on the field this fall.

Cole and Dudley are already as good a linebacking duo as any in the conference.  If Randle and Porter can step forward, this is a definite position of strength for Louisiana Tech.
Senior Tank Calais is poised for a great 2010 at strong safety. 
Calais (5-11, 205) was second on the Bulldogs with 77 tackles with a sack and two picks, including a 96-yarder for a touchdown vs. San Jose State .  C.J. Broades is expected to start at the other safety position. Coaches were so confident in Broades (6-1, 205, So.) that they used his redshirt year to insert him into the starting lineup at the end of the year.  Broades finished with 18 tackles and is a star of the future.

Junior Terry Carter is back at cornerback after making 45 tackles with four pass deflections last year.  Carter was a star in the 200-meters in high school and has the speed to stay with most receivers.  Senior Josh Victorian started the final four games last season at the other cornerback spot and the job is now his.  Victorian is a good coverage corner, picking off three passes and being credited with four breakups while he was in the lineup.  Senior Olajuwon Paige will also see plenty of playing time and could start at either position.  Paige had 21 tackles and a pick last year. 

Chad Boyd (5-10, 190) provides the Tech coaches with another option at strong safety.  He made 31 tackles as a true freshman last season.

Matt  Nelson stepped forward and was a very pleasant surprise in
Ruston at placekicker.  Nelson was money, hitting 10-13 and two of those misses were over 50 yards.  The punting game, however, is in disarray.  Wide receiver Stuart Scurria did well in spring ball and for now, the job is his.

Livas provides thrills in the return game, averaging 27 yards on kickoffs and 13.4 yards per punt return.  Fitte will get his shots this year as well.

Louisiana Tech has scheduled home games with Grambling (which is only six miles away), Navy and Southern Mississippi and will play a road tilt at Texas A & M.  If the new staff can mold the players into a team, they have a real chance of sweeping that schedule.  The conference schedule shakes out good also with home games against contenders Utah State , Idaho , Fresno State and Nevada .  The Bulldogs will travel to Hawai'i , Boise State , New Mexico State and San Jose State . 

Ordinarily, a 4-8 team that is completely replacing its coaches doesn't have a good outlook its first year.  With the talent back, however, and the plans for a wide-open passing game, this year's Louisiana Tech team could be the exception.  A postseason date is well within reach and an eight-win season is not out of the question.


2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Grambling State
Sept. 11 at
Texas A & M
Sept. 18 Navy
Sept. 25 Southern Mississippi
Oct. 2 at Hawai'i
Oct. 9 Utah State
Oct. 16 Idaho
Oct. 26 at Boise State
Oct. 30 Idaho
Nov. 6 at Fresno State
Nov. 13 at New Mexico State
Nov. 27 San Jose St
Dec. 4 Nevada







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