Saturday afternoon, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs invade Manhattan for an afternoon outing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. To get a read on this week's opponent, we reached out for a second week in a row to our sister blog Underdog Dynasty, this time hooking up with Louisiana Tech writer Jason Jones (@BigJasonJones), who also covers the Bulldogs for the Rivals site Bleed Tech Blue.
Jon: When Skip Holtz was hired to replace Sonny Dykes after some decisively horrible seasons at South Florida, some people thought it was an insane move. Then the Bulldogs ran off with the C-USA West title last year. How does the Tech fanbase feel about the move, and about Holtz, now?
Jason: I think Tech's administration was looking for an established coach this time around. You're only as good as your last job, so the hire did get some criticism. However, Holtz started recruiting strictly high school players after his initial signing class and is building the program the right way. Most fans are very pleased with the direction of the program under Holtz.
Jon: What are Skip's tendencies as a coach? To your knowledge is he doing anything differently than he did at South Florida, or does it appear his failure there was more an institutional problem than a coaching issue?
Jason: Skip's tendencies are to recruit the best athletes possible and let them play. He won't get too exotic with schemes or anything. He said in a few occasions that he just ran out of time at USF. He had plenty of success at East Carolina and he is having similar success at LA Tech. I think the players like playing for him and he puts them in position to be successful.
Jon: Everyone's familiar with Jeff Driskel, and most folks are at least marginally aware of the good things RB Kenneth Dixon is doing. Who else is important in the Tech offense, and what sort of schemes should we look for?
Jason: The three top receivers are Trent Taylor, Paul Turner, and Carlos Henderson. You can expect to see a healthy dose of Dixon and Taylor will be targeted often. Turner and Henderson are the big play guys and Driskel has the arm to make them effective. Tech is going to try to mix it up and keep the defense honest, but at the same time they won't venture too far away from what works.
Jon: Who are Tech's big guns on defense, and what's the philosophy there?
Jason: Vernon Butler (DT) and Xavier Woods (S) are the future NFL players on defense. There are five or six seniors who also bring a lot of experience and talent to the defense in Adarius Barnes, Nick Thomason, Bryson Abraham, Beau Fitte, Kentrell Brice, and Vontarrius Dora.
The philosophy is to put pressure on the quarterback, try to take away the run game, and force the quarterback into making quick decisions.
Jon: Turning to your read on K-State: what do you think Tech will do well against the Wildcats, and what concerns you the most about facing them?
Jason: I think Tech will be able to run the ball against Kansas State and they should be able to pass enough to keep the defense honest. The biggest question is can they hit on the big plays because K-State is so disciplined.
On defense, it boils down to can they get to the quarterback. The K-State offensive line is good, so if they protect well it could be tough for the Bulldogs on defense.
Jon: Lastly, as usual: got a prediction?
Jason: I think it will be a tough game, but I give the home team the edge. Kansas State 27, LA Tech 24.
Thanks to Jason for taking the time to answer our questions. We'll update with my answers to his questions when they're published.