LA Tech Goes for Two in a Row

In his season-long search for a quarterback to stop his team's struggles on offense, it seems Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes finally found his answer last week against Utah State. Don't use one.

The Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1 WAC) utilized heavily the Wildcat formation in an Oct. 9 win over Utah State for the first significant time this season (they dabbled with it some in the season opener vs. Grambling State). The result was a season-high 278 rushing yards and a comfortable league victory.

Monday, Dykes suggested that despite its success vs. Utah State, the Wildcat might not be a key part of the offense in the future, but based on results, it seems apparent that statement was merely a coaching ploy. "I don't know that you're going to see it as much in the future as you did this past game," Dykes told the Monroe News-Star.

The reality is running back Lennon Creer (120 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and wide receiver Tim Molton (93 rushing yards to go along with 34 receiving yards and a touchdown reception when used in his traditional role) had easily the best games of their college careers when both lined up in the shotgun behind center and just ran with the ball. Creer would take snaps and primarily move straight ahead between the tackles and Molton would use his speed off the edge.

"He's a guy," Dykes said of Molton, an LSU transfer, "that's got talent, and we felt like we needed to try to get him more involved in our game play and try to figure out a way to get him the ball more, especially in space. ... He also throws the ball real well."

Molton, unfortunately, might be done for the year with a right knee injury, but it's clear that Dykes simply can't ignore the benefit of having one of his talented wideouts run the Wildcat the rest of the season. He said receiver Richie Casey, a former high school quarterback, and return specialist Phillip Livas are likely Wildcat performers in the weeks to come. The bottom line was the formation was a success.

"(The Wildcat) added a whole new dimension to our offense," starting quarterback Ross Jenkins, who wasn't on the field for any Wildcat plays, told the News-Star. "Obviously -- rushing for 278 -- it worked."

NOTES, QUOTES --See what one win can do? Despite a frustrating 1-4 start to the season, a start in which nothing seemed to flow for the offense, the Bulldogs beat Utah State on Oct. 9 and were fielding reporters' questions Monday about bowl games.

"That's our goal right now. We all believe it," senior starting QB Ross Jenkins told the Shreveport Times. "We're going to put our heart into the rest of the season and do our very best to make sure that can happen."

At 2-4, La. Tech would need to go 4-2 the rest of the season to be bowl eligible. The Bulldogs still have games against ranked foes Boise State (5-0) and Nevada (6-0), not to mention this week's game against Idaho (3-2) and Nov. 6 vs. Fresno State (3-2).

--It's hard to blame a fifth year senior seeing his first collegiate action for messing up the victory celebration.

Louisiana Tech fifth-year QB Steven Ensminger redshirted at Auburn in 2006, sat out in 2007 as a transfer then never got off the scout team in 2008 or 2009 for the Bulldogs.

Against Utah State on Saturday, he ran for a seven yard gain in mop up duty and as the final gun sounded ran to starting QB Ross Jenkins and tried the now common jumping, side bump celebration. Jenkins just stood there.

"We're roommates and we have our own little handshake, so I was coming up thinking we're going to do our handshake," Jenkins told the Shreveport Times. "Then he jumps up in the air trying for the shoulder bump. I was like, 'Man, what did we make the handshake for if we're not going to do it?'"

Failed celebration aside, Ensminger getting in the game put a smile on the face of head coach Sonny Dykes.

"That's the best thing about coaching, when you get to see somebody who has worked their tail off for four or five years get rewarded a little bit," Dykes told the Shreveport Times. "That's why you do it. You love kids. That's what makes it fun."

--Idaho, La. Tech's opponent Saturday, is averaging 315.4 passing yards per game this season, good for sixth best in the nation. Still, that's more than 100 passing yards fewer per game than a Hawaii team that scorched the Bulldogs secondary for 532 passing yards in an Oct. 2 Hawaii win.

SERIES HISTORY: Louisiana Tech leads Idaho 3-2 (last meeting, 2009, 35-34 Idaho).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Louisiana Tech was a running team before Sonny Dykes got there. Maybe now that the Bulldogs have seen how successful they ran the ball Oct. 9 vs. Utah State (season-high 278 rushing yards) they'll be one again. RB Lennon Creer and WR Tim Molton both had plenty of reps taking shotgun snaps from the formation and both had career-high rushing performances. But it all starts up front, according to head coach Sonny Dykes. "I thought our offensive line played well," Dykes said. "They're getting better and I thought our run game was really the key to the football game."

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: LB Adrien Cole has been a beast lately and matched a career-high with 12 tackles Oct. 9 vs. Utah State. The Louisiana Tech defense was successful in stifling the Utah State offense on Oct. 9, but will face a much different scheme on Oct. 16 vs. Idaho. Junior DE Matt Broha (team-high 5.5 sacks) will have to apply some pressure on Idaho QB Nathan Anderle to help the rest of the defense ground a Vandals passing attack that has averaged 315.4 passing yards per game (2nd best in the WAC).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just want to win this week. Anything past that to me -- we're not there yet where we can look at the big picture." -- La. Tech head coach Sonny Dykes to the Shreveport Times.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL THIS WEEK'S GAME: Idaho at Louisiana Tech, Oct. 16 -- A year ago in Moscow, Idaho, the Vandals scored two TDs in the final 5:51 of the game and gained 461 yards of offense to squeak by the Bulldogs 35-34. La. Tech, even with a new coaching staff, has a roster full of bitter players with revenge on their minds this week.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Louisiana Tech finally saw some consistent offense a week ago when they started utilizing the Wildcat formation. Unlike most teams that break the huddle and still have the QB on the field, La. Tech runs the Wildcat without a QB on the field and hasn't passed out of the formation yet. Until they do, don't worry about it. Stop the run out of the Wildcat and La. Tech hasn't proven yet it can beat an FBS program by passing.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: WRs in the Wildcat -- Tim Molton had a career-high 93 rushing yards as the main player in the Wildcat vs. Utah State. He injured his right knee in the game and might be done for the year, but fellow WRs Richie Casey, a former high school quarterback, and Phillip Livas, a versatile return man, are also dangerous in the formation and it's clear the La. Tech offense was at its best all season when using the Wildcat.

LB Adrien Cole -- Coming off a career-best 12 tackle performance in the Oct. 9 Utah State win, it's clear Cole is starting to take his game to another level. While he's had good games in the past, Cole is now starting to emerge as the go-to leader on the defense.

SS Chad Boyd -- Idaho QB Nathan Enderle ranks No. 2 in the WAC in passing yards per game (282.2) and if you don't stop him, you probably don't stop the Vandals from winning. Boyd, whose team-high two interceptions (tied with Josh Victorian) is fifth best in the WAC.

ROSTER REPORT: --WR Tim Molton injured his right knee Oct. 9 vs. Utah State and his availability for the Oct. 16 Idaho game is questionable. In fact, some media outlets reported he tore his ACL, but as of Tuesday, the team had not confirmed what his injury was.

Fellow WRs Phillip Livas or Richie Casey, a former high school quarterback, are the likely replacements in the Wildcat formation.

--Not counting players who have lined up in Wildcat formations, senior QB Steven Ensminger became the fourth quarterback to play this season for Louisiana Tech when he was inserted into the game for mop up duty against Utah State on Oct. 9.


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