March 13, 2009
RUSTON--Louisiana Tech head football coach and athletic director Derek Dooley and his Bulldogs officially begin preparation for their third season together as the team begins spring practices on Saturday morning to set the tone for 2009.
"Spring practice to me is always a fun time for a coach," said Dooley. "It signifies the dawn of a new season and it's your first real opportunity to look at a lot of your underclassmen that weren't on the two deep last year because they redshirted for whatever reason."
Louisiana Tech will return 17 starters from the 2008 Independence Bowl Champion team, nine offensive, seven defensive and one starter from the special teams. With a lot of talent coming back, Dooley has put into place four key goals for this year's spring practice.
"First of all we need to manage the success we had last season," said Dooley. "Second of all we need to improve on defending the pass and throwing the football without suffering in the other areas that we excelled in last year. Third is to answer a lot of personnel questions at a lot of different positions and to build depth at certain positions and last is to continue building a brand of how we play football and how we represent Louisiana Tech."
Defensively the Bulldogs will be led by first team All-WAC safety Antonio Baker and first team All-WAC defensive lineman D'Anthony Smith. The Bulldogs return their entire defensive line from the 2008 season. Gone, however, are corner backs Weldon Brown and Stevon Howze which leaves a wide open race for the two starting corner positions. Going into spring it looks to be a four man race for the two positions with Terry Carter, Josh Victorian, Darrius Terry and junior college transfer Olajuwon Paige all vying for the two vacancies at corner.
The only returning starter other than Livas on special teams is deep snapper Thomas Graham. Gone are kicker Brad Oestriecher and punter Chris Keagle. Both jobs will be up for grabs during spring ball.
Saturday begins Tech's 15 allowed spring workouts by the NCAA with the conclusion coming with the T-Day Spring Game on April 11 at 1 p.m. All practices are closed to the public until T-Day.