They are a big physical team and I thought our guys really played hard on both sides of the ball and really played physical on both sides of the ball and matched their size advantage," said Louisiana Tech Head Coach Sonny Dykes. "I thought we matched it by playing with good pad level and playing really tough and having a great mindset going into the game. I was disappointed that we weren't able to find a way to win the football game but I think anybody who knows anything can see that we are making some progress. This football team is a good team and we are excited to start conference play."
Dykes pointed out his team's confidence has grown after playing so close with Southern Miss, Houston, and Mississippi State. "I told them I was proud of their effort," he said. "The number one job you have as a coach is to get your guys to play hard. That is a huge struggle within itself and our players are playing hard. I really believe that. Our guys are going out there and competing."
"They aren't afraid of anybody," added Coach Dykes. "We will go out there and play anybody and play hard and we feel like we have a chance to win. The biggest thing I told them is that I sensed a difference this week than in the Houston game. We were on the road against an SEC opponent and I think our players expected to win. I don't think there was anybody who hoped to win or wished we could win, or any of that kind of stuff. I think our players expected to win and I feel like that was progress. I really didn't get that sense, as much, in the Houston game as I did this week. I think our guys had tremendous confidence and we just have to continue to build on it and close these games out when we have opportunities to."
With Hawaii coming in to town, the Bulldogs will have to play at a high level to get on the winning track. "We are going to play a really good opponent this week in Hawai'i," explained Coach Dykes. "I think they were the consensus pick to win the league. The quarterback is a special player."
Bryant Moniz tied an NCAA record with 7 touchdowns passes in the first half last week against UC-Davis. Hawaii led 49-0 at the half and cruised to a 56-14 win. Moniz has already gone over 1,000 yards passing in four games and has 11 touchdowns against only one interception.
Hawaii started the season off with a 34-17 win over Colorado on the island. As tough as Hawaii is to deal with in Aloha Stadium, they can be slowed down when they have to travel. The Warriors are 0-2 on the road this season after falling to Washington and UNLV by a combined 80-52.
Louisiana Tech has won two of their last three matchups with Hawaii in Ruston. Tech won 27-6 in 2009 and 46-14 in 2005. Colt Brennan led the Warriors to a 45-44 overtime win in 2007.
Dykes talked about the challenge his team faces with Moniz. "He runs around so well," he explained. "He makes a lot of plays. He likes to play moving around on the pocket probably more than the guy at Houston did. It's a little bit different that way. He's one of those guys that you almost want him to stay in the pocket because when he gets out of the pocket he makes a lot of plays throwing the ball down the field. The receivers do a good job of staying active and getting open when he scrambles and he is inclined to do that. So we have to make sure that we continue to cover when he leaves the pocket and that we're solid in our rush lanes and that we do a good job of making tackles when he is in the open field."
Moniz rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Colorado. One reason Washington and UNLV were able to beat Hawaii was the fact that they had success in containing Moniz. He had a combined 15 carries for -26 yards and one touchdown in the two losses.
Hawaii has to deal with travel issues unlike any other football program. Despite the adversity they face, Coach Dykes knows Hawaii will still be a huge obstacle for his team. "It's tough," he admitted. It hurts your preparation so much for the next week. You are trying to play catch-up all week. Hawai'i is a tough place to play. They play incredibly well over there. Their guys play fast. I think Greg McMackin knows this is a big game. Their guys will play hard. They will be ready to play. They will play with the same intensity and speed that they play with at home here on the road and they haven't always done that, but they will on Saturday."
Louisiana Tech is on the verge of becoming a really good team. The Bulldogs have the talent and the effort is there. This game is very big for both teams.
"Well we are going to have to score points," Dykes said about the keys to vistory. "It is going to be similar to the Houston game in terms of having to score points in order to win the game. We're going to have to create some plays in the kicking game. We are going to have to take care of the football. When you play Hawai'i, turnovers are always really critical. If you go back and look at their history, when they don't turn the ball over they are very difficult to beat. We are going to have to create turnovers and take care of the ball ourselves and that will be a huge impact on the game. We are going to have to run the football against them, which again, will be hard. They are big upfront, pretty physical, but we are going to have to get our running game going."
Joe Aillet Stadium will be a sea of red for the annual red out game. The Dawgs are seeing red after another tough loss and they are hungry for a win. Saturday night will be a great game that you will not want to miss.