We made two predictions at the beginning of the football season. And it might as well have been made in January than just 4 weeks ago because we all have a knack to sort things into the ‘short term’ memory file. To bring everyone up to speed, here is what we said:
- If we end up 2-2 after the first 4 games, we would be in a great position with the remaining games on our schedule to make a bowl game.
- Whoever started at quarterback for the Richmond would have a difficult time if they struggled in the first couple of games and Virginia could look at someone else by the end of the Louisiana Tech game.
Well, here we are. As the Hoos ‘limp’ into the La Tech game this Saturday after two straight weeks of mediocre offensive outputs, cries for Phillips Sims to start has been raining down on London and Virginia. While ML is going to stick with Rocco this week, he understands that Michael and Phillip will need to step it up this week. And that might be a bit of an understatement. What are we to look forward to with the Bulldogs. Here is our preview.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
One of the few teams left in the WAC after the great shift of 2010-11, La Tech is coming off a 8-5 season and a 6-1 conference record which earned them a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl against TCU. This season, they are 3-0 and putting up some huge numbers. In wins over Houston, Rice, and Illinois, they are averaging north of 54 points a game and 536 yards a game. The only slightly encouraging stat is that the Bulldog defense is one of the worst in the country, giving up 498 yards per game.
La Tech will run a wide open, spread offense. And while that will facilitate passing all day long, the Bulldogs have been running out of shotgun sets on a read/zone basis. The news of the week was leading rusher Tevin King (369 yards, 5 TD) is gone for the year with a knee injury. (We have seen this story before). But the rest of the pieces are still in play. Geno Smith gets all the attention with his 12 TD to 0 INT ratio, but Colby Cameron has thrown for 913 yards with 11 TDs with 0 INTs as well. When Colby wants to hand the ball off, freshman Kenneth Dixon (244 yards, 4 TD) will be getting the bulk of the carries with King gone. Receiving, it becomes pick your poison with this Bulldog WRs. Quinton Patton (319, 4), Myles White (143, 2), D.J. Banks (121, 1), and Hunter Lee (99, 1) will be targeted early and often.
I am become more and more convinced that the traditional 4-3 defenses are going by the wayside. Shoot even UVa is running their Will Linebackers as half safety ‘bandits’. Both Reynolds and Hill have been safeties or worked out as safeties at one point or another. La Tech will employ a 4-2-5 defense with 2 true DTs and DEs, a Strong and Middle Linebacker, and 5 secondary players in their base defense. It is a system that is a ‘risk-reward’ blitzing scheme. They have 9 sacks, 22 tackles for losses, and 9 fumble recoveries in just 3 games. Like I said earlier, they are giving up nearly 500 yards per game and 37 points per game, but with an offense that can score at will, all this has been a moot point.
No sugar coating on this one. Two things are working against the Hoos in this game. First off, I don’t think they have the firepower to trade touchdowns with LA Tech. Secondly, the secondary is not experienced enough to handle this kind of offense. Sure Houston, Rice, and Illinois aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts, but they all had the offensive ability to keep up with La Tech. Bottom line, Hoos have to play better defense than they have in the last two games and find the endzone even more they have all season. If they can’t do BOTH, we won’t win. And I hope they prove me wrong, but La Tech comes out on top in this one. Louisiana Tech 34, Virginia 27. ***Bonus Prediction: The QB race will just get muddier.***