2022 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Preview

by Matt Fargo

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-6 C-USA West) - 4-7-1 ATS - 9-3-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 8

Overview

When head coach Sonny Dykes left for the California job in 2013, Louisiana Tech hired Skip Holtz after stints at East Carolina and South Florida and he inherited a rebuilding project in the first season in C-USA and it in ended up 4-8 but then things turned around for the better. He put together seven straight winning seasons including six straight bowl wins but a 28-3 loss to Georgia Southern in the 2020 New Orleans Bowl followed by a 3-9 record last season did him in and the program now turns to Sonny Cumbie who took over for Matt Wells in the final five games at Texas Tech last season. Last year was a major disappointment as Louisiana Tech had 18 starters back but the offense was inconsistent and the defense was consistently bad. The Bulldogs return 15 starters but are still young and a lot of the veterans from last season have moved on as they come in with a ranking of No. 101 in returning production so there will be work to do.

Offense

The offense started great last season as it averaged 33.4 ppg through the first five games but then faltered down the stretch behind a defense that collapsed. The Bulldogs finished No. 78 in total offense and No. 70 in scoring offense and those rankings should be much better under Cumbie and his high octane, attacking offense but a quarterback has to emerge. The leading candidate heading into camp is Parker McNeil who played under Cumbie at Texas Tech so he knows the system which is a big plus. The two leading receivers are back as Smoke Harris and Tre Harris combined for 111 receptions and 1,318 yards with 10 touchdowns and eclipsing a total of 2,000 yards is in the cards. The running game lost its leading back and Greg Garner takes over after rushing for a mere 216 yards last season. The offensive line is what will make this system click and it should be just fine with three starters back and a lot of depth and experience.

Defense

There were three good games by the defense where it allowed 17, 19 and 23 points but the other nine games were a disaster, as they gave up 38.8 ppg and finished No. 113 in scoring defense and No. 107 in total defense. Eight starters are back and playing a new scheme will improve this unit that will be flying all over the field. The biggest issue was getting after the quarterback as not enough pressure was applied and that resulted in only 20 sacks which was No. 98 in the nation. The defensive line is big and strong with a pair of starters back in Keivie Rose and Mykol Clark who had only three sacks between them but will improve upon that. Leading tackler Tyler Grubbs was all over the place, making 97 stops at linebacker but two replacements need to be made around him. Safety BeeJay Williamson accounted for three of the nine interceptions and with a ton of experience in the secondary, more takeaways should be expected.

2022 Season Outlook

This is not a complete rebuild that most new coaches typically get following a firing and the Bulldogs have the capability to be a dangerous team and if nothing else, an interesting one to witness that will improve in time. Cumbie directed the Air Raid offenses at TCU and Texas Tech as offensive coordinator and if he can get the most out of the quarterback here, there should be plenty of points. From a scheduling standpoint, it is not very optimal as the Bulldogs will be on the road for seven of their 12 games including Missouri and Clemson in two of the first three games sandwiched around Stephen F. Austin where new defensive coordinator Scott Power came from. The conference schedule is not bad as they only face three teams projected for more than 5.5 wins. Their O/U win total is set at 4.5 and there is a stretch in the middle where five of six games are against teams with win totals of 5.5 or less so the over is doable. 

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