Break in Weather Allows LA Tech to Open Spring Practice Friday
March 11, 2016
RUSTON, La. - Amidst a week of record rainfall across Louisiana, the skies opened briefly on Friday afternoon, just in time for Louisiana Tech to spend two dry hours on the field at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Friday's practice -- the first of 15 allowable spring practices for the Bulldogs -- even witnessed a little bit of sunshine as the team hit the turf field that was installed last summer and is designed to drain water effectively.
"It is great to be out here," Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz said after Friday's session. "Looking at the weather with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I didn't think there was any way we were going to be able to get out here. But just around 4 o'clock, right as we were coming out, the skies cleared up and it turned out to be a beautiful day for us to come out here and practice. The field drained really well and it was good. There was a lot of energy, a lot of excitement and a lot of enthusiasm running around here in shorts today."
The session began the spring practice season for a team that is coming off a 9-5 campaign and a dominating win in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Despite losing several starters on both sides of the ball, the team still returns depth at some positions along with plenty of speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball.
"We are doing a lot of teaching right now but I really like the retention, attitude and work ethic that we have right now," Holtz said. "I know we come out and it's like doom and gloom with all the guys you lost and everybody wants to talk about how you lost your quarterback, tailback, Paul Turner, a couple offensive linemen, all these guys on defense like Vernon Butler, you lost [Vontarrius] Dora, all your linebackers, Kentrell Brice and both your corners but there is some talent out here. We have a long way to go and we are going to need every day from now until Arkansas for us to put this football team together but I really like the attitude and the way we came out here and worked on day one."
The team showed impressive speed and athleticism in the first practice after being able to take advantage of the new weight room and training facilities for January workouts inside the Davison Athletics Complex for the first time this year. The expanded facilities not only provide more space for strength training but also conditioning with a 40-yard turf section for short sprint drills inside.
"I think the weight room has been special in having not only the weight room but having the field three feet out the back door," Holtz said of the facility. "When you watch Kurt Hester and what he does with his weight workouts, it is not just about going out there and pushing a bar and a bench press. He does a lot of functional work with our players and that is why I think he is so good. It really shows when they come out here on the field. Right now they have been really itching to get out here, the attitude is upbeat and everybody is running around. For the guys, the game is only going to continue to slow down. But I think the facility is huge in the development of the offseason and I think the job that Kurt Hester does with this football team is incredible."
The athleticism and speed was very evident with a deep receiver corps, a position that looks to build on big numbers from last season. Several additions to the group that redshirted the 2015 season look to make immediate impacts on the position, such as Alfred Smith, Rhashid Bonnette and Javonte Woodard.
"You lose one guy that played a significant role for you last year in Paul Turner," said Holtz. "We lost some other numbers and names but they may not have played as much. Then you have guys like Alfred Smith, [Rhashid] Bonnette and [Javonte] Woodard that redshirted last year that will be added to the mix alongside Trent Taylor, Carlos Henderson, Kam McKnight and Conner Smith, who was back out here running around and healthy again. I think there is probably more depth at that position because you still have guys like Marlon Watts, DeJuawn Oliver and some guys that have played a little bit for us. I think there is quite a bit of talent for us at that position, it is just a matter of us putting it together at this point in who is going to fit where."
While the team did get in its practice session Friday, Saturday's scheduled session has been postponed until Sunday due to the threat of more inclement weather hitting the Ruston area.
The team will practice for 14 times before the LA Tech Spring Game presented by Dairy Queen kicks off at Noon CT at Joe Aillet Stadium on Saturday, April 16.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please follow @LATechFB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
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