Bulldog Offense: Reason for Optimism?

Things started to click for the Louisiana Tech offense halfway through Sonny Dykes' first year. With a full year under their belt and an offseason of work, Louisiana Tech hopes to have the kinks worked out in 2011.

When you think of offense in 2010, the first thing that comes to mind is the quarterback rotation. In the first few weeks of the season, four different quarterbacks were either listed as the starter or played in a game for the Bulldogs.

This year, Head Coach Sonny Dykes and Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin went out to find a quarterback to run their offense. Nick Isham, the true freshman from California, looks like he was born to run this offense. So the quarterback controversy is squashed before it starts right? Not so fast. Colby Cameron, named the starter coming out of spring football, has been pushed by Isham and has significantly improved. Both players have put in a lot of work and the competition has left Tech in a much better quarterback situation. Now, instead of trying to find anybody to run the offense, Coach Dykes has two guys that can run it.

Isham struggled a little early. Dykes talked a little about Isham earlier this fall. "Nick [Isham] had one of those days a freshman is going to have," he said. "The speed of the game, I think at times, surprises him a little bit. That is what you expect from freshmen though. He is still way ahead of the curve and just needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball." To see Isham improve so much in such a short amount of time shows he is a competitor and he wants this job.

So who will be the starter? No one knows yet. Isham looked really good in the scrimmage this weekend, but Cameron finished strong. Our bet is Cameron is named the starter, but Isham will be given a chance to play early and show what he can do. We should see a starter rise to the top after the first two games (@ Southern Miss, vs. Central Arkansas.) That Central Arkansas game in Ruston will give both players a chance to get a lot of reps in and work out some kinks.

Whoever gets the quarterback job will be in a great position knowing Lennin Creer is lined up behind them. Creer was a huge reason for the offense improving over the second half of last season. Coach Dykes said Creer is a different player from a year ago. Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin said the competition at running back has also been good. Coach Franklin mentioned Ray Holley has had a great camp and he and Creer push each other.

So Tech is better at quarterback and better at running back; what about wide receiver? Jacarri Jackson has really grown into a good looking receiver this offseason. Quinton Patton, a junior college transfer, may be the star of camp. The two players give Tech quarterbacks two bigger, faster targets to throw to. Leading receivers Taulib Ikharo and Richie Casey return, as does do-it-all junior Lyle Fitte. Former Michigan State speedster Myles White was a big standout in the spring and continues to be a deep threat for the offense. Two other junior college transfers, Jeremy Butler and Scott Cathart, provide big targets. Cathcart has really come on in camp and Butler had three catches in the scrimmage. Veteran players David Gru and Andrew Guillot will see plenty of playing time. Guillot really emerged as a player last year and Gru has been a steady receiver since he arrived in Ruston.

Other new additions to the offense include former junior college quarterback Brock Waters. Waters will be used in a few different positions, but his signal calling experience along with hsi speed make him ideal in the wildcat. Tevin King, a true freshman from Georgia, and Hunter Lee, a true freshman from Texas, are both running backs who could play early. King gives Coach Dykes an elusive player in the backfield and he can also help out on special teams. Lee has been lining up in the slot during camp and has played well.

Tech's offense is designed to nickle and dime the defense to death, but also to take advantage of big play opportunities. "Guys are starting got make more and more plays," Dykes said. "We would like to see it in more of a consistent basis but we are starting to show some glimpses and guys are starting to make plays. Jacarri Jackson is starting to grow up a little bit, mature, become more competitive and tougher. It is good to see him making some more plays. He just has to continue to do it. He has shown flashes in the past but hasn't been very consistent. If we can get him doing that consistently, that would be a big thing for our football team."

The offensive line will be a huge key for everything to come togehter. Kevin Saia has been banged up during camp and will need to be back beside center Stephen Warner to solidify the interior. Athletic and Strong, Vince Cano is a perfect candidate to take over the other guard spot. Massive transfer Oscar Johnson is also available at guard. Jordan Mills has emerged as a tough and reliable tackle and senior Kris Cavitt will also start. Larry Banks and Jeremy Graffree were brought in to provide depth.

Louisiana Tech has all the ingrediants together to make a big improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Colby Cameron looks like a completely different quarterback and both he or Isham will have the weapons to use to make good things happen.

Notes:

A few of the quarterbacks have former high school teammates on the roster.

Colby Cameron and David Gru played together at Newbury Park High School in California. Brock Waters and Jeremy Butler were teammates at Booker High School in Bradenton, FL. Also, RB Malon Lee and QB Tarik Hakmi both played at Foothill College in California.


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