Despite the loss, Louisiana Tech might improvements in several areas. The most obvious was the downfield passing. Cruz Williams has been getting open all year and finally had the break out game that Tech fans expected. The offensive game plan resembled the NMSU and Hawaii games and not last week's Utah State loss. In fact, the team was 100% different than the team that showed up last week.
Jenkins looked more confident and looked for his receivers down the field more than he had all year. Cruz Williams was a big target and R.P. Stuart had six catches. Stuart had two great blocks to help the rushing attack to get going. In fact, the whole team seemed to play better together and they played with urgency. Ross Jenkins got up the field and made a good block for Phillip Livas after Livas had criss-crossed the field on a reverse play. Both Jenkins and Cameron played well. Both quarterbacks will do a good job as the starter this week and the other will be ready to come in if the offense needs a spark. They key will be to continue to mix up the play calls to keep the defense honest. Tech split the play calls against Idaho evenly between run and pass plays.
The defense also played well, giving up just 14 points in the first three quarters. Idaho opened the game with a 95 yard kick return. The Louisiana Tech defense clamped down and kept the Vandals from scoring in the first quarter on offense. Adrien Cole was in street clothes, Deon Young was playing hurt, and the Bulldogs couldn't hold on as Idaho scored the two late touchdowns. Josh Victorian played a lot at corner and Idaho tried to pick on him. He had one questionable pass interference call and moments later he was called for interference after making a great play on the ball. Victorian made up for it by intercepting a pass in the end zone just before the half.
Louisiana Tech is now 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the WAC. With the next two games against top 10 teams, the Bulldogs are in for a fight. They have a chance to make a big statement with Boise State coming in to town on Friday night. The game will be on ESPN2 and it will mark the first time a top 10 team has come to Ruston. Tech has played great all year at home and will give the Broncos a one of their toughest games of the year.
Coach Dooley and his squad proved they will not give up, even if they are out of the bowl picture by all accounts. Even if they lose to Boise State and LSU, the Bulldogs still have a lot to play for. Fresno State would give them one last chance to win on the road and San Jose State gives them a chance to end the season on a positive note. The difference between this year's team and last year is just a few points. Tech just lost on the road to Utah State by two points and Idaho by one. Last year, Tech went out to NMSU and barely escaped with a victory. They also had a narrow victory over Utah State at home. 5-7 would seem to be a step back after Coach Dooley led the team to 5-7 in 2007 and 8-5 in 2008. The team has made several strides over the season.
Last year, Tech was great against the run. This year, they have tightened up against the pass. Teams aren't able to pick the Bulldogs apart and pass their way up and down the field. Coach Dooley also knows he has a lot of young players ready to break out on offense. Freshmen Cruz Willliams, Tyronne Duplessis, Lyle Fitte, and D.J. Morrow have all played well. Coach Dooley has a freshman kicker and punter who have had their ups and downs, but they have bright futures on this team. Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley are two sophomore linebackers that are playmakers for the defense. ‘
The 2010 schedule has six home games already in place with a chance to have seven. With Tech playing so well at home, the Bulldogs have a chance to win a lot of games next year. Players sitting out will also give the offense a boost. Lennon Creer, Ahmad Paige, Tim Molton, Jacarri Jackson, Sharman Brown, and D.J. St. Julien will bring a lot of speed and versatility to the offense. Creer will bring size to the backfield to go with the speed of Morrow and Duplessis. The five new receivers will bring depth to a team that currently has just four scholarship wideouts.
Tech still has to play with consistency. They can't play lights out at home and then have a dud like the Utah State game. They seemed to have turned the corner on the road with the effort at Idaho. The team should not hang their heads this week. They played with high energy and effort and just fell one point short. There is no time to feel sorry about the loss with Boise State coming on Friday. If they duplicate their effort that they have had recently against Idaho, NMSU, and Hawaii; then they will give Boise a great game.
Tech won the turnover battle against Idaho, held the ball longer, had almost 1oo yards more offense, and converted a higher percentage of third downs. They will need to do those things again against Boise, but it will be the little things that will determine a win. Instead of giving up a special teams touchdown, Tech will need to score a touchdown on defense or special teams. They will need get that extra first down in the fourth quarter to run the clock out, they will need to get to the quarterback a second sooner to force fourth down, and they will need make a field goal in the second half to get those insurance points.
Louisiana Tech is close, real close. The offensive game plan is matching up with the players on the field. The defense is still playing tough. The Bulldogs are due for a big win and Boise State can't win every WAC game every year. Somebody will beat them and it might as well be the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Ruston, LA on Friday night on ESPN2.