Updated Mar 28, 2004 16:06:33
Bulldogs Set To Begin Spring Football Practice On Monday
Finding a new quarterback and implementing a new defense are the primary game plans as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs begin Spring football practice Monday afternoon.
The workouts will culminate with the Blue-Red Spring Game to be played on April 24 at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Louisiana Tech enters the spring practice session without a quarterback who has attempted at pass in a college football game and also has to replace its top three receivers from the 2003 season. The Bulldogs will also be looking to find a new kicker and new punter.
Tech will have a new-look defense next season as the Bulldogs move from a 4-3 defensive set to a 3-4 scheme.
The quarterback race will be wide open as head coach Jack Bicknell and staff look to replace four-year starter Luke McCown, who finished ranked as the NCAA's No. 4 career passing leader with 12,666 yards and the No. 3 player in NCAA total offense with 12,722 yards. McCown also was tied as the NCAA's No. 9 all-time passing touchdown leader with 87 aerial scores.
Battling to replace McCown and four-year backup Maxie Causey will be redshirt
freshman Zac Champion, junior Matt Kubik, junior Donald Allen and Brent Rawls, a transfer from the University of Oklahoma.
"Our top goal in Spring practice is to get this team set personnel-wise heading into the fall," Tech coach Jack Bicknell said. "And that all starts at our quarterback position. It's going to be wide-open. One of our biggest challenges will be getting everyone an equal opportunity and enough snaps. We don't have a frontrunner. That will shake out as practice moves on."
Tech's running back corps looks solid with the return of Ryan Moats after he earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a sophomore last season with 1300 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns along with 27 receptions for 251 yards and a score.
Danny Wilson will provide senior leadership in relief of Moats after picking up 134 yards on 27 carries in 2003. The Bulldogs also have a bruiser ready to show his bite in 6-2, 230-pound redshirt junior Shelton Richardson.
Louisiana Tech's offensive line returns plenty of experience with all six
starters returning including senior tight end Aaron Capps. Starting returners on the offensive line are left tackle Lester Brown, left guard Aaron Lips, center Marcus Stewart, right guard Jordan Lang and right tackle Adrian Gonzalez.
"That's a good thing because the new quarterback will have Moats and the entire line back around him," Bicknell said. "It's good to have that kind of experience coming back when your quarterback won't have any experience."
Erick Franklin is Tech's lone starting receiver returning for the Bulldogs after hauling in 19 receptions for 318 yards and a touchdown last season. Trammisian Davis is also back after serving as a part-time starter in 2003 with 22 catches for 410 yards and three scores.
Freddie King, Eric Newman, Julius Cosby, Johnathan Holland and Alton Bryant all received valuable playing time last season and will be among the group fighting to earn starting roles.
"I really feel good about our wide receivers," Bicknell said. "We have a couple of guys who are really capable of having breakout years like Moats did for us last year. I thing we'll be fine at receiver. We just have to find someone to get the ball to them."
Another primary focus for the Bulldogs this Spring will be tightening up their
defense, which returns eight players.
New defensive coordinator Tim Rose will shift the Bulldogs to a 3-4 defense and will coach the inside linebackers while Tony Hughes will handle outside linebackers. Randy Bates will be the secondary coach for Tech's defense next season.
"We're going to the 3-4 because we're trying to fit our package and schemes around our personnel rather than the other way around," Bicknell said. "This should give us a lot more flexibility in things like who rushes and who drops in a particular package. It's good we're doing this in the Spring because we'll have the opportunity to experiment with our packages and personnel to figure out what will work best."
Louisiana Tech has right end Wendell Crowe, left tackle Chris Van Hoy, left end Jemelle Cage, linebackers Byron Santiago and T.J. Jackson, cornerback Corey Brazil, strong safety Lee Johnson and free safety Michael Johnson returning after starting for the Bulldogs last season.
Rose and his staff will be looking to replace defensive tackle Lacorey Street,
linebacker Antonio Crow and cornerback Kevin Brown.
Special teams will also get a new look this spring as the Bulldogs look to replace kicker Josh Scobee and punter Dustin Upton. Scobee became Louisiana Tech's all-time leading kicker as a four-year starter while Upton also starter all four seasons during his Tech career and averaged 40.7 yards per punt last season.
Redshirt freshman Zack Myatt will handle kicking chores this Spring while walk-on David Black will take punting duties.