March 23, 2010
RUSTON, La. - As the Louisiana Tech football team works through its first spring practice season with new head coach Sonny Dykes, LATechSports.com will be taking a look at the progress of various positions on the team. Second in this series of installments is a look at the running backs and new coach Pierre Ingram.
The 2010 season will be one with a completely different look for the running backs. Departed coach Derek Dooley focused his offense around running backs and tight ends while new head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin bring a spread attack that has the opportunity to feature a lot of passing in a no-huddle, attacking style of play.
The tailbacks featured one prominent player last year as Daniel Porter ran for the school's all-time rushing mark and a pair of freshmen in Tyrone Duplessis and D.J. Morrow teamed up with Myke Compton to take most of the rest of the carries. Fast forward to this spring and the Bulldogs have Tennessee-transfer Lennon Creer eligible along with Morrow, fullback Roosevelt Falls and wide receiver-turned-running back Lyle Fitte with Compton and Duplessis recovering from late season injuries.
The challenge, as issued by new running backs coach Pierre Ingram, is for the running backs is to show Dykes and Franklin that their talent level cannot be ignored when the ball is snapped this season.
"I told our guys when I came here that this is a passing offense, we all know that, but if we perform on the field then we can't be ignored," explained Ingram. "They have stepped up to that challenge so far during spring ball. We have some talented receivers and we know we have to block for those guys when we are in pass protection, but our guys want the ball. I told them that they have to earn that. With Coach [Tony] Franklin, he is going to throw the screens, the quick game and he will throw it down the field. He has challenged the guys as well and hopefully they will step it up."
So far the challenge has been met with the four healthy tailbacks working hard in spring practice, adjusting to a new pace of the game and learning the offense.
"We are rotating four guys right now - Fitte, Creer, [D.J.] Morrow and [Roosevelt] Falls," said Ingram. "Each guy knows their role and is stepping up to it. I would say everyone is performing well; we just need to lower our pads and work on fundamentals. They are working hard and giving a good effort in practice."
Throughout spring practice, Dykes has noticed the talent and consistency that this group of running backs brings to the field each day.
"The backs have probably been the most consistent group so far this spring," Dykes said. "I've been really happy with the way those guys have been performing and as a group they are doing a good job and blocking well."
Louisiana Tech's group of running backs not only features a stockpile of talent but talent that his spread across various strengths.
"What I like about our running backs is that they are all a little bit different," Dykes continued. "[Lennon] Creer has some good speed and can be physical while [Lyle] Fitte is more of a speed guy and [D.J.] Morrow is kind of a combination of both. It's good as we have three different kinds of backs that can do different things and they have all done a pretty good job this spring."
Ingram echoed the sentiments of Dykes in talking about the multifaceted strengths of the group.
"We have speed in [Lyle] Fitte, we have a bruiser in [Lennon] Creer - they are kind of like our lightning and thunder," added Ingram. "Then Roosevelt [Falls] adds a totally different dimension, as does D.J. Morrow. It is a nice mix - we have speed, we have some bigger guys that can run down field. I would say we are a complete group of guys but we just need to work on the details."
The speedy Fitte joins the running back corps after averaging 10.7 yards on nine carries last season and can be a threat to move downfield after catching 12 passes for 133 yards last year, averaging 11.1 yards per catch.
Duplessis, who is recovering from a late season injury, ran for 277 yards on 70 carries in nine games last season while Morrow tallied 150 rushing yards on 31 carries in seven games played.
"I am confident in those guys but the whole factor is keeping them healthy and making sure they learn the offense," continued Ingram. "Hopefully getting our two guys back around the end of spring and them getting stronger and healthy over summer workouts, coming back in the fall with the four guys we have now, God-willing they stay healthy, I feel comfortable with the group we have."
Fans don't have to wait until the T-Day Spring Game to get their first glimpse of the 2010 running game in action as all practices are open to the public and Bulldog fans are encouraged to attend. The next practice will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24 at Joe Aillet Stadium.
For the most comprehensive coverage of Louisiana Tech's spring football practices, check out the Spring Football Central at LATechSports.com. For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.