Isham was 20-36 for 176 yards. His receivers dropped a few passes, so he could have easily completed 2/3 of his passes and had over 200 yards. Southern Miss did move the ball better under the same conditions and after watching the game, you would have thought senior USm Quarterback Austin Davis had much better numbers. In fact, Davis was 21-37 for 226 yards and an interception.
Quinton Patton led Tech receivers with 5 catches for 95 yards. Myles White, Richie Casey, Taulib Ikharo, and Andrew Guillot also caught passes, but no one besides Patton had more than 19 yards.
"I was really proud of him," Louisiana Tech Head Coach Sonny Dykes said of Isham. "He didn't force the ball until right there at the end of the game, he forced one ball into coverage but I thought he handled the rush well. That is a good defensive front we played against and they rush the passer well."
Dykes also mentioned Patton and White. "Certainly between Quinton (Patton) and Myles (White) give us a lot more explosiveness and speed than we have had in the past," he added, "and then we have some great special team effort from Antonio Mitchum, I thought he played really well on some coverage units and some return units.
The special teams, led by Mitchum, Dave Clark, and Lyle Fitte, kept Tech in the game and gave the Bulldogs a chance to win. Tech was able to recover a fumble on a punt and Lennon Creer was later able to put the ball in the end zone. Fitte had an 86 yard kickoff return for Tech's other touchdown. Dave Clark had an interception and he also stood out on special teams.
Things could not have started off worse for Louisiana tech. "The thing that I was proud of is we got down early," explained Dykes. "They put together a good drive, went down and scored on a reverse and then the offense goes three and out, then we get a punt blocked and we responded extremely well when that happened. Nobody panicked. I think we rolled our sleeves up and went to work and expected something good to happen at that point and made some good things happen and that's a different mentality than we have had in the past. I am happy that we're progressing that way."
After that initial blocked punt, the Bulldogs could have hung their heads and watched USm score again to make it a two touchdown lead on the way to a blowout. The defense stood tall and held USm to four firld goals the rest of the way.
Coach Dykes was pleased with several things he saw from his defense. "I thought we played really physical," he admitted. "I really did. Our safeties came up and put some big hits on those guys and linebackers made some big hits and D linemen, as well. That is something that I was really glad to see. I think if we continue to play with that type of attitude and physical presence then we have a chance to have a really good defense. We expect to have a really good defense. I think you can see that we are more athletic on that side of the ball than we were a year ago; our safeties run around better. I felt like we did a lot great things defensively, but again the physical part of it was really impressive."
Defesne and special teams should stand out once again this week against Central Arkansas. The Bulldogs have a chance to work out some things on offense and get Isham going a little.
"Central Arkansas is a really good football team," Dykes said about Tech's first home opponent. "They have had great records, they were 7-4 last year. They have a lot of returning starters, I believe 9 back on offense and 7 back on defense so, a lot of guys coming back with a lot of experience. Their Quarterback is back, he is a Division I transfer. They've got several Division I transfers, particularly on their offense. They run well. They do a good job of executing their offense."
Central Arkansas defeated Henderson State 38-14 on Thursday night, September 1st. The Bears will have a little more rest than Tech considering Tech played into Sunday morning on the road. Coach Dykes isn't ready to make any excuses about the quick turn around. "They have a little bit of an advantage just from a rest standpoint," said Dykes. "I think a recovery and rest standpoint because like anything else, you always think you know what you're going to see from somebody, but you're not really sure until you see the first game. They got our game film the same time we got theirs, so I think they will be rested and have had a chance probably to focus on us a little bit longer."
Tech needs to get the offense going against Central Arkansas. Four of the next five teams on Louisiana Tech's schedule had impressive opening games.
Bryant Moniz led Hawaii to a 34-17 victory over Colorado. Moniz was 20-33 for 178 yards and a touchdown and he added 121 yards rushing with three additional scores.
Houston beat UCLA 38-34 behind Case Keenum, who was 30-40 for 310 yards and a toucdown.
Mississippi State beat Memphis 59-14. Quarteback Chris Relf was 13-21 for 202 yards and two touchowns while running back Vic Ballard had 166 yards on just 10 carries. Ballard added three rushing touchdowns.
Utah State had defending national champion Auburn down 38-28 with 3:38 to go. The Aggies had the game all but won, but couldn't hold on as they lost 42-38. auburn had a spectacular on side kick recovery to set up the winning score. Utah State's freshman quarterback threw for over 200 yards and ran for two touchdowns.
Louisiana Tech's defense and special teams played well enough on Saturday to step on the field against anyone. The offense showed evidence that the players and the scheme is in place to put points on the board. The ground game was not much of a factor in the slippery conditions. Lennon Creer will get his game going and Nick Isham will put up some big numbers in the near future.
Louisiana Tech wants to win every game, but you have to feel good about the way they played on Saturday.