Secondary Steps Up in Fifth Spring Practice



March 16, 2011

Post Practice Video with Coach Dykes

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech's secondary stepped up and took the focus off the offense with a handful of interceptions as the team worked out in full pads on the Tech practice fields Wednesday afternoon.

All three quarterbacks competing in live drills - Taylor Burch, Colby Cameron and Zach Griffith - were responsible for an interception on the day.

"I thought those guys did a good job today," head coach Sonny Dykes said of the secondary. "They played the ball better. I thought Dave Clark did some good things and picked up some deep balls. It seems like he is moving around a lot better and playing with a lot more confidence. Some of our young safeties - Connor Nichols and Mike Schrang - those guys are starting to stand out a little bit. I thought it was a good overall competitive day. Ryan Williams had a really good day. He had a little bit of an ankle injury near the end of practice but it looks like he will be okay. I really like what we're seeing right now."

The development of a stronger secondary is important for Louisiana Tech during spring and fall camps as that area was a statistical weakness for the team in 2010. Louisiana Tech will be facing a pair of teams early in the season with strong attacking offenses in Southern Miss and Houston, the latter of which returns Hesiman Trophy candidate Case Keenum for a sixth year of eligibility.

On the offensive side of the ball, D.J. St. Julien stood out Wednesday as he led the offense with six catches. Overall this spring, St. Julien is third on the team with 14 catches while recording only one drop which came Wednesday.

"He has really been a pleasant surprise," said Dykes of St. Julien. "He has really come on. He is one of those kids that really has talent but he just needs to learn to come out and compete at a high level every day. He is starting to come out with the right mindset and competing hard at practice, paying attention to details and starting to compete. That is the hard thing for some of these young players; they are used to getting by on talent, just showing up and going through the motions. At this level, we need these guys to come out every single day and compete hard and make themselves better and he is doing that."

In all, the team is on par with where they should be during the second year of Dykes' high octane offense.

"I think we are right on schedule," explained Dykes. "I like the way we are practicing and working against each other. I think we are making each other better. The competition at spots has been really good. I really like where we are right now. We just have to keep practicing and keep grinding. IF we do that, we will have a very successful spring."

Tech will practice in shells on Friday at 4 p.m. on the practice fields prior to holding its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, March 19 at Joe Aillet Stadium. The team will begin with a light practice at 10 a.m. and will move straight into a live scrimmage. Both Friday and Saturday's practice and scrimmage will be open to the public and the media.

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