Tech Defense Stands Up in Scrimmage

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech's defense had plenty of room for improvement following Saturday night's intra-squad scrimmage at Joe Aillet Stadium where it gave up too many scores for head coach Derek Dooley's liking.

On Wednesday night, the unit took a giant step forward limiting the Tech offense to only two early touchdowns in a full-blown scrimmage that consisted of 104 plays.

Following the practice, Dooley said he was pleased with what he saw from his defense for the most part.

"I think our offense came out and picked up where they left off in the last scrimmage," Dooley said. "They took it to the defense early. However, the defense settled into the game and finished strongly.

"They came up with some big stops at the end. They stopped a key fourth down conversion with the game on the line and then stopped the offense in two minute. The key for us is we still have a lot of young guys who we are trying to evaluate on the defensive line and at linebacker. We have to keep evaluating them and see who can step up."

Tech's offense scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions as Myke Compton went around right end for a 19-yard touchdown run and Daniel Porter took one up the middle for a 30-yard run on the next possession.

"I thought our running game looked good," Dooley said. "The backs did a good job and ran hard. Patrick (Jackson) and Daniel continue to make plays; they made guys miss and broke tackles. It's important that we get a lot of production out of them this year."

Jackson led Tech with 51 yards on nine carries while Porter added 43 yards on six carries with the touchdown.

Following Porter's score on the third offensive possession, sophomore Phillip Livas returned the kickoff 93 yards for a score, one of many special team highlights on the evening. "I was real pleased with our specialists," Dooley said.

In addition to Livas' burst, senior kicker Brad Oestriecher had his second productive night, hitting on two of three field goal attempts including a 52-yarder. Oestriecher's only miss came when he left a 52-yarder just short on the final possession of the night.

Punter Chris Keagle was also impressive, booming a 52-yard punt while also downing a couple of sky punts inside the opponent's 10-yard line. In the battle for the starting quarterback race, Taylor Bennett completed 18-of-38 passes for 204 yards while Ross Jenkins completed 7-of-17 for 83 yards. Neither signal caller threw an interception and both were plagued with dropped balls by their receiving corps.

"In the passing game, we had some pretty typical freshman mistakes from some of our receivers out there," Dooley said. "Usually freshmen come out and look good early but then the more you install and the harder camp gets, they seem to hit a wall. I think you saw that tonight. We had a lot of drops and mental errors.

"I thought Taylor did a nice job of making some plays. He did a good job of getting out of trouble and getting the football downfield. We're still not getting as many big plays as we will need during the season. You can credit the coverage for some of that, but our young wide receivers have to learn how to get off the press and get open."

Freshman Cruz Williams led Tech with five receptions for 43 yards but dropped a number of passes. Livas (3-58), Houston Tuminello (3-27), Earl Griffin (3-30), Dustin Mitchell (3-46) and Compton (3-31) each had productive nights in the passing game.

Dooley said that although he was pleased with his defense, it was hard to single out specific performers until he had the opportunity to look at the film.

Tech returns to practice Thursday with a 2:30 p.m. session.


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