"It is certainly frustrating just because winning a game like that is kind of what we needed," said Bulldogs Head Coach Sonny Dykes. "We need to win a game like that against a good team. We have to move on. That is the biggest thing, move on. I think our players saw what we are capabale of and, I think, that is where you learn."
In year two of the Dykes regime, Louisiana Tech was looking for a statement game. Up 34-7, late in the third quarter, the Bulldogs looked to be well on their way against Houston. It was certainly hard to swallow for everyone involved at Tech, but the Bulldogs have to learn from it.
Louisiana Tech beat Mississippi State 22-14 in 2008. That was Derek Dooley's second year and a good sign that he had the program on an upward swing.
This won't be the same Mississippi State team. "Mississippi State is just going to overpower you," explained Dykes. "It's just what they do. They have a good scheme, kind of an option based scheme. They have two really good running backs. They have some injuries on their offensive line. I know they have had to shift some people around. They have tremendous speed at wide receiver. Their quarterback is a very large, physical, hard to tackle guy that will run you over."
Mississippi State is 1-2 after suffering losses to Auburn and LSU. The State Bulldogs are big and physical, and they will be out to prove something on Saturday. Not only are they stinging from a couple of their own missed opportunites; they have a little history with Louisiana Tech.
Not only did Tech beat Mississippi State in Ruston in 2008, they beat them in Starkville 1996 so Mississippi State will want to end that little streak. Tech also bought out a 2012 game at Starkville, leaving Mississippi State looking for another opponent at the last minute.
Dykes is looking for his team to respond. "his will be challenging for us," he added. "I don't think we are going to have a hangover. Our players are going to be eager to get back out there and ready to perform and practice. They have done that this year. They have bounced back well and I expect them to do the same thing today. We are going to have to play extremely well and take care of the football and capitalize on opportunities if we are going to have a chance to win the game Saturday."
Despite the dissapointing loss for Tech, Coach Dykes knows his team is heading in the right direction. You look at Southern Miss and they are going to have a good team," he said. "Houston is going to have a good team. I think both of them will be right in the thick of the Conference USA championship and we had a chance to possibly win both of those games."
Louisiana Tech's offense put up big yards and scored 34 points against Houston. Last season, It took Tech seven games (a 48-35 win over Idaho) before they scored that many points, but they did it four times in their last six games. The offense is showing signs that it can be a force this season and the defense has played well for big stretches against Southern Miss and Houston.
Coach Dykes and his Dawgs need to put an entire game together to get that first FBS win out of the way in 2011. Once they do, they could go on a pretty good run. Mississippi State will be a big challenge, as will Hawaii in Ruston next week. Tech is right on the edge and the ball is about to bounce their way again.