Spring Practice - Week One

A week into Spring Football and Louisiana Tech Head Coach Sonny Dykes has a lot to look over. Wednesday will be the first day in full pads and he should get an even better feel for what he has to work with.

"I'm starting to see the guys that are twos start to develop and start to push some of the guys that are ones," Dykes said. "Right now I don't have a whole lot of starters, it is just an open competition for spots and I have been really happy with some of our walk-on players who have done a great job of stepping in and competing. They are pushing a lot of these guys that are on scholarship which is encouraging."

The cupboard is not bare and one of the key positions for Coach Dykes will be wide receiver. LSU transfer Tim Molton looks like a complete player on the field. He is long and fluid and he can create seperation. His ability to get in the secondary and catch the ball will be a huge asset to the quarterback. Ahmad Paige, Richie Casey, and Jaccari Jackson are other receivers that have garnered attention.

"It was another competitive day today," commented head coach Sonny Dykes. "I thought Ahmad Paige did a lot of good things today and made a couple of big plays. There were some long throws which showed the quarterbacks are improving. What I like is that we're starting to get a little more consistent and have less and less mental errors, which is pretty encouraging."

While Dykes was praising Paige and the offense in general, he also talked about what the receivers need to work on.

"The big thing we have to do is just get a little bit tougher at some of our skill position spots, particularly at wide receiver," explained Dykes. "A lot of this offense is built on wide receiver blocking, both on a run game and by getting the ball to the perimeter and our spring passing game. That's going to be an area of emphasis for us – getting those guys tougher on the perimeter and more consistent in their blocking. I think it is something that is a little bit different than what they are used to, but we have to improve there."

Both Coach Dykes and Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin used the run last season. The blocking of the wide receivers will be crucial to the offense's ability to make big plays. On Friday, Franklin encouraged his receivers to run hard on every play and to not shy away from contact.

Of course the quarterback will be a big part of how the offense clicks. The three quarterbacks that have been able to work recently have all had their moments. Steven Ensminger has a strong arm and knows how to command a huddle. He did seem to throw the short passes behind his targets, but that is something that can be worked on. Cameron seems very athletic moving around in the pocket. The sophomore quarterback threw a number of low passes, but again that is something that experience and practice will work out. Doak Raulston has the best looking passes in practice. On the deep routes, he lays it up where only the receiver can catch it. He knows the receiver has to be able to run under the pass. A few passes were overthrown, but once he gets his timing down, that shouldn't be much of a problem.

Dykes discussed the quarterbacks recently. "They have been trading blows. We haven't had anyone that has stepped up to this point. We've missed Ross for the last two practices but he obviously has a lot of things he has to deal with regarding his family [and his father passing away]. We are just trying to improve and get better."

Tech announced a few position changes. Andre Taylor moved to defensive end. Taylor brings size and speed to a position that needed depth. Eric Harper has looked very good this spring and with Chandler Spece also returning, Taylor might be better able to help the team on defense.

With Myke Compton and Tyronne Dupplessis banged up a little, Lyle Fitte is working out at running back. Fitte will be able to help the team at both running back and receiver, so this is a good move for him to get more practice time.

With the team going to full pads on Wednesday, we should be able to tell a little more about the offensive line and the entire defense.

One thing that was noticed this weekend was the balance the coaching staff seemed to already have. Dykes talked about the transition from being a coordinator to a head coach. "I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable in knowing what I am supposed to be doing out here. The first day I seemed a little bit lost but since then I've felt more comfortable. I'm just like the players in that I am learning the style of practice and getting more comfortable with my role. We are all learning together."

While Dykes looked like the president of a company, making adjustments and making sure everything worked right; his top generals were there to motivate their units and push them to do their best. Tony Franklin and Tommky Spangler really encouraged their players to be tough and to be disciplined. Some of the assistant coaches like Rob Likens, Jeff Koontz, and Kevin Curtis took every oppurtunity to teach the players and really explain what they were expected to do. They all really seemed to work well together, even this early in their first spring together.

Check back on Thursday for more from Louisiana Tech Spring Football.

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