Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
2008 record: 8-5 (5-3 WAC, T-2nd)
Head Coach: Derek Dooley (13-12, 2 years)
Returning Starters: 15: 9 offense, 6 defense
Leaders on Each Side: Offense: RB, Daniel Porter, Defense: DT, D’Anthony Smith
The Bulldogs impressed in 2008, reeling off eight wins and topping Northern Illinois in the Independence Bowl.
Head coach Derek Dooley’s second place Western Athletic Conference finish, which came in his second year at the helm, has people around Ruston talking.
The key to another winning season, and bowl trip, will be to improve the passing game – throwing on offense and stopping it on defense.
The Bulldogs allowed 272.7 yards through the air in 2008, second worst in the league and 113th in the country. On the offensive side, Ross Jenkins settled in and became the quintessential game manager – averaging 105 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
The ground game, headlined by senior Daniel Porter, will have the benefit of rushing behind five returning starters on the offensive line. That is good news to Porter, who needs 1,122 yards to become the school’s all-time leading rusher.
Ross Jenkins – 6’3”, 212, Jr.
Randy Hardin – 6’0”, 195, So.
After passing for 1,155 yards on 92 completions last year, Ross Jenkins is back under center. The junior split time with Taylor Bennett in 2008, where he recorded a 6-2 mark as the Bulldogs starter.
While Jenkins played the conservative role as a sophomore, offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo will expect a more aggressive approach on Saturdays this fall.
Daniel Porter – 5’9”, 190, Sr.
Myke Compton – 5’8”, 193, Sr.
The star of the offensive side is Daniel Porter, a first-team WAC pick in 2008. Splitting time with Patrick Jackson, Porter reeled off a team-high 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns.
Fellow senior Myke Compton will get his touches, but the offense will run through Porter. If the Baton Rouge-native can match or surpass his totals from 2008, he will become the Bulldogs all-time leading rusher.
Wide Receivers and Tight End
Phillip Livas – 5’8”, 175, Jr.
Houston Tuminello – 6’0”, 173, So.
Richie Casey – 5’11”, 175, Fr.
R.P. Stuart – 6’3”, 205, So.
Dennis Morris – 6’2”, 266, Sr.
The man to watch is junior Phillip Livas, who doubles as the return specialist. In 2008, the Houma-native led the team with 43 catches for 607 yards and tacked on 337 rushing yards on 30 catches. The lone returning starter to the group, Livas will be leaned on heavily.
Tight end Dennis Morris should get more looks than in 2008, where he pulled in just seven passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. The same goes for Houston Tuminello and R.P. Stuart, both entering starting roles for the first time.
Rob McGill – 6’6”, 305, Jr.
Ben Harris – 6’4”, 295, Sr.
Lon Roberts – 6’3”, 277, Jr.
Jared Miles – 6’3”, 324, Jr.
Cudahy Harmon – 6’6”, 327, Jr.
If Porter hopes to have another big campaign, success will begin at the offensive line, where five starters - plus a sixth Bulldog who logged six starts a season ago - are back.
The group is headlined by left tackle Rob McGill, who should be among the conference’s best. Cudahy Harmon will line up opposite McGill, with Ben Harris and Jared Miles lining up at the guard spots.
Matt Broha – 6’4”, 228, So.
Mason Hitt – 6’1”, 268, Jr.
D’Anthony Smith – 6’2”, 300, Sr.
Christian Lacey – 6’1”, 230, So.
Defending the passing game gave the Bulldogs fits in 2008, but stopping the run was made easy by the presence of a confident front.
D’Anthony Smith is the headliner of the group, who earned first-team All WAC honors behind 65 tackles and five sacks last fall. Mason Hitt, who was in on 34 stops in 2008, is back at the other tackle spot.
Running up the middle will certainly be a tall task, and returning starter Matt Broha and newcomer Christian Lacey hope that the same can be said of their presence off the end.
Dusty Rust – 6’3”, 215, So.
Adrien Cole – 5’11”, 245, So.
Brian White – 6’1”, 228, Sr.
The lone returning starter to the unit is Brian White, who logged 19 stops from his strongside spot in 2008. Brannon Jackson and Quinn Harris are gone, which means that White will need to increase production.
Sophomore Dusty Rust gets the nod at weakside linebacker, with Adrien Cole slated to get the start in the middle. Junior Dominique Faust, who logged 42 tackles in 2008, will provide depth off the bench.
Terry Carter – 5’10”, 183, So.
Olajuwon Page – 5’9”, 180, Jr.
Deon Young – 5’11”, 197, Sr.
Antonio Baker – 5’11”, 200, Sr.
The secondary will need to improve, and in a hurry. The Bulldogs gave up 272.7 passing yards per game last year, a mark that defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler surely wants to erase.
The safety spot returns a pair of starters in Deon Young and Antonio Baker, a tandem that combined for 174 stops last fall. The cornerback spot, where the Bulldogs return no starters, will be the one to keep a close watch on. Terry Carter and Olajuown Paige look to be the starting pair, while Josh Victorian and Darrius Terry make up the two-deep.
John Hinton – 5’11”, 170, Fr.
Cade Glasgow – 6’0”, 180, Fr.
The Bulldogs worked their way into the top 25 nationally on both kickoffs and punts last fall. Yet newcomers are at both spots, and each is coming off a redshirt freshman season. John Hinton will handle the kicking duties, while Cade Glasgow takes over at punter.