"What you try to do is figure out who your best players are and draw up the rest of your defense or specials teams around them," Dykes said.
The Bulldogs secondary was up and down last year, so Coach Spangler made a few adjustments to try and get the team in better position to stop the pass.
The first move was to put returning starter Ryan Williams at safety after he spent last year at cornerback. Ryan gives Coach Spangler a third guy that can cover on the field and one of his top priorities is to lock down the slot receiver.
Ryan spoke to HereComeTheDawgs.com at last weeks media day in Ruston. He didn't sound real thrilled about the move, but he said he would do whatever the team needed him to do.
One big positive in the Tech defensive backfield has been the play of Dave Clark. Clark has picked off several passes in camp and has become a leader for the Tech defense. Clark's play has surely made Coach Spangler feel like he made the right move.
At the Tech media day, both Coach Dykes and Coach Spangler had good things to say about Justin Goodman and Terry Carter. Dykes said Carter has really stepped up his practice habits and Goodman is a totally different player from a year ago. With Williams moved over to safety, either Carter or Goodman will be starting opposite Clark. Both players will be counted on to play alot. Veteran DeMarcion Evans will also be in the mix for playing time.
Tech will once again play a 4-2-5 defense in many situations. When that fifth defensive back is in the game, Bulldog fans will recognize former starters at safety in Javantay Crowe and Chad Boyd. Both players are known for being big hitters. What you essentially would have is three cover guys in Clark, Williams, and Carter alongside starting safety Jamel Johnson and Boyd. Tech will use this formation a lot against passing teams like Southern Miss, Houston, Hawaii, and Mississippi State. Playing five defensive backs will be essential this year in many cases. It will also be essential to put Boyd and Crowe in positions to do what they do best and the coaching staff realizes that.
When the Bulldogs are in a traditional 4-3 defense, the linebackers will end up making tons of big plays for Coach Spangler. This unit is probably the deepest on the team. Veterans like Dusty Rust, Adrien Cole, Jay Dudley, and Solomon Randle join young guys like Rufus Porter, Chip Hester, and Antonio Mitchum to give Tech plenty of options to fill in the middle of the defense.
All of the moving around in the secondary wouldn't be real effective without a strong pass rush. All-Wac Defensive End Matt Broha and I.K. Enemkpali return to do just that; get after the quarterback. Inside Justin Ellis and Jon'al White bring size and strength that Tech has lacked since D'Anthony Smith moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two big North Louisiana natives will help plug up the run for the Bulldogs. Returning inside are Shakeil Lucas and Adam Hymel. Lucas really stood out for Tech last year and Hymel, a former walkon, is one of the strongest players on the team and has a great motor. Having depth iniside is something the Bulldogs have lacked in recent years. These four guys are a solid group at defensive tackle. That being said, a true freshman like Tyler Porter or Malcolm Pichon could be called on to provide even more run stuffing depth.
The 2011 Louisiana Tech Defense will be better than the 2010 version. How much better depends on injuries and the ability of the new guys to blend in. It will also take the guys switching positions to get comfortable in their new roles and mesh well together. Southern Miss will be a really good first test next Saturday.