“I’m happy with what I saw this spring,” Bicknell said about the new wrinkles. “If we can be effective running the ball-and I think we can- and have quarterbacks who can run and pass, which we do, then this (new scheme) will be a real benefit to us.”
Bicknell still had no idea who his starting quarterback would be following the Bulldogs scrimmage on August 27th. In fact, the three quarterbacks Zac Champion, Donald Allen, and Matt Kubik combined for an impressive 30 completions in 41 passing attempts in that scrimmage. They also proved to be efficient running the ball. It appears that 2004 starter Matt Kubik will get the nod over Donald Allen. However, Bicknell had added that he will rotate his quarterbacks. While I’m not convinced that we’ll see Champion, I would be surprised if Donald Allen doesn’t see significant play behind center.
Louisiana Tech offensive line vs Florida defensive front
Louisiana Tech offense: Spread
Florida defense: Multiple, 4-3
The Bulldogs return three starters on an offensive line that paved the way for running back Ryan Moats to shatter the Louisiana Tech single season rushing record of 1,774 yards. Moats ran for 228 or more yards in four regular season games, all of them ranking among the top ten single game rushing performances in Bulldog history. He is now backing up Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.
The key NFL prospect among the big uglies is left guard Aaron Lips, a technically sound three year starter for the Bulldogs. He graded out very high throughout the 2004 season. Lips is on the Lombardi Watch List. He can also double to play center if necessary.
Another veteran with three years experience as a starter on the Louisiana Tech offense is center Marcus Stewart, who is on the Rimington Watch List. Stewart is among the strongest players on the Tech squad.
Mammoth right guard Marcus Lindsay was supposed to make the move from guard to right tackle. Apparently though, the 6-7 362 junior has Mo Mitchell syndrome. The coaches have asked him to drop weight, preferably to around 330. Bicknell indicated that they have even told him it could assist him in his goal to play in the NFL, but thus far, those requests remain lost on Lindsay. Obviously, the additional weight didn’t help Lindsay’s quickness and footwork to warrant the move.
#56 Marcus Stewart 6-3 305 Sr. 3L Denham Springs, La.
#64 Aaron Lips 6-5 295 Sr. 3L Tickfaw, La.
#78 Marcus Lindsay 6-7 362 Jr. 2L Monroe, La.
#73 Tyler Miller 6-7 304 So. 1L Waco, Tx.
#63 Ryan Considine 6-5 291 So. 1L Arlington, Tx.
By the way…In 2004, Louisiana Tech was beaten by Miami, Tennessee, and Auburn by an average score of 47.3-8. All three teams loaded up to stop Moats and the Tech running game, forcing first year starting quarterback Matt Kubik to beat them with the pass.
With the McDonald experiment complete, Florida must now concentrate on improving and hoping that reserves push harder for playing time. The Wyoming offensive line is a very good, well coached unit. Those were no slouches the Gators stuffed. Louisiana Tech offensive line coach Pete Perot enters his 16th season at the school, and he’ll have the group as ready as they can possibly be. They are not as talented overall, but Lips and Stewart are very good.
The Florida linebackers seemingly enjoyed last Saturday as well. Brandon Siler finished with a team high seven tackles. Earl Everett was all over the field as well. Although he finished with just three stops, it seemed he was all around the football. The coaches would like to see Jon Demps, Billy Latsko, and Brian Crum get some more work as well.
#44 Marcus Thomas 6-3 285 Jr. 2L Jacksonville
#93 Steven Harris 6-4 281 Jr. 2L Miami
#95 Ray McDonald 6-3 285 Jr. 2L Belle Glade
#57 Jeremy Mincey 6-4 265 Sr. 1L Statesboro, Ga
#40 Brandon Siler 6-2 239 So. 1L Orlando
#30 Earl Everett 6-2 231 Jr. 2L Webster
#47 Todd McCullough 6-5 233 Sr. 3L Jacksonville
Analysis: Expect the Florida defensive front to build momentum on their performance of a week ago. RayMac and Mincey will be going against a pair of sophomore offensive tackles in Miller and Considine that don’t have a lot of experience. Miller saw action in ten games last season, with just two starts. Considine played in only two games in ’04.
The interior (offensive) line is very good for the Bulldogs, and will provide a challenge for Florida’s tackles. The September heat and humidity is always a factor in “The Swamp” though. Louisiana Tech has virtually no depth at any position along the offensive line.
The Florida linebackers will get a workout trying to stop Meyer’s offense. The Gators will have to defend the entire field. Linebackers Earl Everett and Todd McCullough will be spread out in coverage at times. The defensive front has to have a big game. We should have a very good idea as to where the reserves stack up after the final whistle in this one.
Louisiana Tech Skills Positions vs Florida secondary
The Bulldogs have a speedy wide receiver in junior Johnathan Holland. The Archibald, Louisiana native has averaged 21.8 yards per catch over the past two seasons. He was a participant in the NCAA Track and Field Events in both the 100 meters. Holland won the 60 meters in the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships with a time of 6.82 seconds. He finished third in the always competitive Texas Relays in the 100 meters (10.26) and fourth in the Penn Relays where he ran a 10.46. He caught 19 passes last season.
Wide receivers coach Pete Carmichael will trade experience for talent this season. The Bulldogs have four freshmen who come into the program with impressive resumes. They are seemingly better overall athletes than some of the veteran players and the staff has indicated that they would like to see them get an opportunity.
Senior Eric Newman caught 19 passes last year, while fellow senior Seneca Chambers from Port St. Joe hauled in 12 passes. Both have very few starts in their careers playing behind now departed veterans.
Running backs Freddie Franklin and Mark Dillard will share duties in the one back set. Franklin had 45 carries last season for 204 yards. Dillard had just 12 carries for two yards. He is a member of the Louisiana Tech relay teams.
Quarterbacks Matt Kubik and Donald Allen have the ability to run the football in the spread offense. Kubik started nine games for the Bulldogs during the ’04 season. Allen started three games and was limited throughout much of the season due to an injury he sustained in the Tennessee game. He returned the last two games of the season.
bik ember of the Louisiana Tech relay teams. nd obvioud departed veterans.ambers from Port St. ng advantage of the Bulldogs ve
Kubik completed 123 of 242 (50.8%) for 1818 yards and ten touchdowns. He also threw ten interceptions. Allen completed 27 of 52 (52%) for 317 yards and one touchdown. He threw one interception. Offensively, the Bulldogs only threw the ball 38% of the time.
By the way…Recent Louisiana Tech quarterbacks Tim Rattay (San Francisco), Luke McCown (Tampa Bay), and Jason Martin account for a combined 56 300 plus yard passing games in their careers. Current starter Matt Kubik has one.
Injuries: None noted
#13 Matt Kubik 6-3 213 Sr. 3L Wheatland, Co
#28 Freddie Franklin 6-0 182 So. 1L New Orleans, La
#29 Mark Dillard 5-11 208 So. 1L Baton Rouge, La.
#7 Johnathan Holland 6-0 187 Jr. 3L Denver, Co
#2 Freddie King 5-7 167 Sr. 3L Winnfield, La.
#6 Seneca Chambers 6-2 188 Sr. 1L Littleton, Co.
#82 Eric Newman 6-0 190 Sr. 2L Oak Grove, La.
Vernell Brown will see a receiver that he can stare down, literally. The 5-8 Brown, who was tremendous in coverage last week against a solid Wyoming receiving corps will stand across from 5-7 Freddie King.
Dee Webb obviously has his Spidy senses on. He just needs to haul those loose passes into his web, so to speak. Those are plays that the Gators will need him to finish when playing Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, etc.
Florida was able to use reserves Reggie Nelson, Avery Atkins, Nick Brooks, Hot Tamale, and Reggie Lewis last weekend. They should again see plenty of action against Bicknell’s version of the spread offense.
#15 Dee Webb 5-11 190 Jr. 3L Jacksonville
#16 Vernell Brown 5-8 165 Sr. 2L Gainesville
#46 Jarvis Herring 5-11 205 Sr. 3L Live Oak
#3 Kyle Jackson 6-1 200 So. 1L Jacksonville
Analysis: It will be interesting to see just how much of Meyer’s playbook Bicknell and his staff have decided to implement into their system. It is obvious from the scrimmage that they’ll be putting it up more than they’ve been used to.
The Bulldogs will use the 5-7 King (at times) out of the backfield giving him the football. He will be hard to find behind those big linemen. That should serve as one of their twists. Florida will have to keep him penned up.
Quarterbacks Kubik and Allen have the ability to run the option in this offense. The Gators defended the option pretty well in practice, so they should have little difficulty taking hold of the Bulldogs version. This system will allow them to throw the ball much more than 38% of the time. That is especially true with Moats now in the league.
The Bulldogs lost their top two wide receivers. In fact, only Holland and Newman have more than 12 receptions among returning wide outs. This group should prove to be better than expected, but they don’t have a Jackson or Caldwell. The Florida DB’s will have to hustle, but should be able to cover.
Florida offensive line vs Louisiana Tech defensive front
Louisiana Tech Defense: 3-4
Florida Offense: Spread
The Florida offensive line has a few wrinkles to iron out this weekend. Guards Drew Miller and Tavares Washington are talented, but combined for only 93 plays of experience. I would imagine that those two grew up a lot this past week under Coach Hevesy.
The entire line just didn’t play as well as they had throughout the spring and August drills. The first live action usually is pretty revealing. It seemed at times that there was far too much thinking about their responsibilities and not enough reaction. Coach Meyer somewhat alluded to that this week in practice, saying that it was a confidence problem.
The O-Line has to be prepared for the blitz because they’ll see it often.
#68 Mike Degory 6-6 304 Sr. 3L Melbourne
#67 Drew Miller 6-5 310 So. 1L Sarasota
#76 Tavares Washington 6-4 320 Sr. Sq Greenville, MS
#72 Lance Butler 6-7 315 Sr. 2L Lexington, NC
#74 Randy Hand 6-6 310 Sr. 3L Ft. Myers
By the way…Sarasota Riverview head coach John Sprague has coached some outstanding offensive linemen, such as former Michigan center David Baas and Florida reserve Steve Rissler. Sprague told me a couple of years ago that Drew Miller might be the most complete, in part because of the Olympic lifting that Miller has utilized during training.
Louisiana Tech will have three new starters on the line, while returning three of their four linebackers. Bicknell feels strongly that Ruffins, Love, and Winbush are just as talented as the three departed seniors. However, they don’t have a lot of experience, and this will be their first live action together.
Love has battled injuries throughout his career at Louisiana Tech. Ruffins played in every game last season, but wasn’t able to break the starting lineup. Winbush played in each game, but sparingly. The three combined on just 57 tackles in ’04.
The Bulldogs will have Brannon Jackson (MIKE) and Barry Robertson (BUCK) manning the inside linebacker positions. Jackson is a young guy who was highly recruited out of Lake Charles. The Tech coaching staff is expecting him to play a key role in their success this season. Roberston entered the ’04 season after transferring from Pearl River and became one of their most consistent playmakers.
Byron Santiago (SAM) and Jeremy Hamilton (WILL) get the start on the outside. Santiago is probably the best of the ‘backers. He has tremendous speed and makes plays. Coach Bicknell has raved about Santiago’s potential. Hamilton is the biggest hitter on the Bulldogs defense. He will be key in coverage against Florida.
Injuries: None reported
#93 Ladarius Love 6-4 330 Sr. 3L Jonesboro, La.
#98 Moqut Ruffins 6-5 277 Sr. 2L Cleveland, Oh.
#85 Quarvey Winbush 6-5 255 Sr. 2L Baton Rouge, La.
#58 Brannon Jackson 6-2 253 So. 1L Lake Charles, La.
#34 Barry Robertson 6-3 240 Sr. 1L Hattiesburg, Ms.
#42 Byron Santiago 6-2 222 Sr. 3L Violet, La.
#8 Jeremy Hamilton 5-11 218 Sr. 3L Ruston, La.
Analysis: Can you say…Blitz? The Florida offensive line should see plenty of Santiago, Roberston, and Hamilton via the blitz.
Last weekend Mike Degory had 5-8 258 noseguard Dusty Hoffschneider lined up over center. This week he’ll have a 6-4 330 package of Love across the ball. This should give Florida plenty of good live experience against a 3-4 that will have to manifacture ways to get pressure on Leak.
Florida Skills Positions vs Louisiana Tech secondary
Jackson had a field day. Everybody should have a good time against the Louisiana Tech secondary. I’m sure they would like to see Tate Casey get a couple of touches just time to add a little more for the Tennessee coaches to prepare.
The running game was the biggest problem last weekend. The offensive line had some blunders, and nobody really threw his hat in the ring at running back. Coach Meyer has spoken all week about Wynn seeing action at the spot, while trying to motivate his charges to step up and make a difference when your number is called.
Chris Leak was very good in his first action in the spread. He should have plenty of opportunity this weekend as well.
#12 Chris Leak 6-0 210 Jr. 2L Charlotte, NC
#33 Kestahn Moore 5-10 205 Fr. HS Arlington, Tx.
#25 Skyler Thornton 5-11 209 Jr. 2L LaGrange, Ga
#8 Chad Jackson 6-1 205 Jr. 2L Hoover, AL
#5 Andre Caldwell 6-1 200 Jr. 2L Tampa
#81 Dallas Baker 6-3 204 Jr. 2L New Smyrna Beach
#6 Jemalle Cornelius 5-11 190 Jr. 2L Fort Meade
Tramon Williams is the only returning starter in a Louisiana Tech secondary that falls short in experience and depth. Williams is decent cover guy, but not that good. Delone Williams, and safeties Abrams and Bryant played as reserves last season. The coaches feel pretty good about Abrams, but really have no idea who else might be ready to play. They simply can’t afford an injury here either.
#22 Tramon Williams 6-0 180 Sr. 2L New Orleans, La.
#18 Delone Williams 5-11 185 Sr. 3L Hattiesburg, Ms.
#4 Dez Abrams 6-0 192 Jr. 2L West Monroe, La.
#23 Alton Bryant 6-1 194 Sr. 3L Shreveport, La.
Analysis: This is where things get ugly. The Tech secondary is probably the weakest area of their squad, and as stated earlier, under a new defensive coordinator. Expect the Gators to strike early, strike often, and somebody please make certain the scoreboard operator drinks plenty of fluids before the game.
Danny Horwedel hit 8 of 14 field goals last season as a freshman for the Bulldogs. He hit 27 of 28 PAT’s and has a long field goal of 43 yards. Punter Chris Keigle will get his first collegiate start of the season.
Deep Snapper Matt Graham is probably the best deep snapper in Louisiana Tech history. He is starting his fourth year for the Bulldogs.
Florida’s Chris Hetland was outstanding last week. He drove field goals of 40 and 47 yards through the uprights, earning him Southeastern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. Wilbur wasn’t as consistent as he has been in the past, but he’ll be fine.
#15 Chris Keagle (P) 5-11 228 Fr. Sq Baton Rouge, La.
#31 Danny Horwedel (PK) 6-2 195 So. 1L Oak Ridge, Tn.
#60 Matt Graham (DS) 5-10 244 Sr. 3L Ruston, La.
#28 Freddie Franklin (PR) 6-0 182 So. 1L New Orleans, La
#7 Johnathan Holland (KR) 6-0 187 Jr. 3L Denver, Co
#29 Mark Dillard (KR) 5-11 208 So. 1L Baton Rouge, La.
#10 Eric Wilber (P) 6-1 195 Jr. 2L Winter Park
#39 Chris Hetland (PK) 6-0 185 Jr. Sq Leesburg
#16 Vernell Brown (PR) 5-8 165 Sr. 2L Gainesville
#5 Andre Caldwell (KR) 6-1 200 Jr. 2L Tampa
#15 Dee Webb (R) 5-11 190 Jr. 3L Jacksonville
Analysis: Florida will possibly use Matt Kynes to hold for Chris Hetland. There are always things to improve in special teams and the Gators need to do just that. Special teams will be an important element down the road, just as it always is.
Pick: Finding a secondary against a Florida squad that returns playmakers at wide receiver and quarterback is bad. Trying to do that in your first game in “The Swamp” is just insane. Florida goes to 2-0.