July 26, 2011
RUSTON, La. - This is part two of a three part feature previewing the Louisiana Tech 2011 football season. Today's part takes a look at the defense.
Statistically speaking, Tech's defense has plenty of room for improvement in 2011 and progress is expected to be made especially with the team's top four tacklers returning. But numbers can be deceiving and Tech's defense did have several strong aspects to it last year, especially against the run. For the second straight season, Tech held Navy's potent triple option rushing offense to under 300 yards and kept Southern Miss' offense in check in a 13-12 nail biter of a game.
Louisiana Tech's defense against the run should be just as potent this year and the defensive line's strengths will be on the outside with a talented pass rush pair of senior Matt Broha and redshirt sophomore IK Enemkpali on the ends. Broha enters his final year of eligibility already ranked third all-time at Louisiana Tech in career sacks (14.5) and was ranked 43rd in the nation in tackles for a loss during the 2010 season. After recording a sack in almost every game this fall, he will be one to watch for on the field this fall - by fans and opposing offensive linemen.
The challenge for Tech's opponents this fall is if they focus their efforts on stopping Broha from the left, they leave a weak side vulnerable to the pressure from Enemkpali. A talented end that had a breakout year last fall, the Pflugerville, Texas native has the skill set to become one of the better ends in the Western Athletic Conference.
Backing up Broha and Enemkpali on the ends are Kendrick James and Christian Lacey, respectively. James is a redshirt sophomore that will benefit from Broha's guidance while Lacey is a senior ready to help teach Enemkpali.
In the middle, Tech will be looking for younger players to make an immediate impact. JuCo transfer and Ruston native Jon'al White is expected to start at nose tackle with Justin Ellis battling for playing time. At tackle, Shakeil Lucas is expected to step up and claim the starting position while former walk-on Adam Hymel will vie for playing time.
Similar to 2010, Tech's defensive packages this season will consist of a variance of 4-3 and Nickel packages based upon what kind of offensive formation the Bulldogs are facing. In the 4-3 formation, the coaching staff hopes the third linebacker will be Rufus Porter. Porter stood out on special teams last season, blocking the Southern Miss punt in the fourth quarter that kept Tech in the game. He will be challenged by redshirt freshman Kevin Kisseberth for a starting spot in that formation.
Tech's middle linebacker position continues to be a toss-up between Solomon Randle and Adrien Cole. Both are talented athletes and the Bulldog defense is in the fortunate position with both being good enough to start. Tech will not see any drop off at MLB this fall when one or the other needs a quick breather.
The other outside linebacker position is a mecca of experience. Jay Dudley enters his senior season as one of the most underrated linebackers in the league. Dudley led Tech in tackles last season and improved tremendously from his sophomore season to his junior year under the guidance of linebackers coach Jeff Koonz. Dudley has the ability to be an all-conference linebacker but has been overshadowed by Cole the last two years. Following Dudley is senior Dusty Rust, a talented linebacker that has seen consistent action over the last few years.
Tech's secondary will see some shuffling this fall as the coaching staff looks to improve on the team's pass defense in 2011. The fifth man in the Nickel package is expected to be Chad Boyd, a safety last year that led the team with four interceptions returned for 76 yards. Boyd, although a little undersized at safety, is an aggressive defender known to make game-changing plays. He will be backed up by Javontay Crowe, a Ruston native that is looking for the right fit in Tech's secondary.
Both cornerback positions are question marks in terms of no specific starter has been set yet and that position, going against the pass-heavy offenses in the WAC, will likely see several moving parts in order to keep legs fresh. Justin Goodman and Dave Clark will be competing for time at left corner with Goodman seeing considerable time in the secondary last season while Clark, recovering from a knee injury, spent most of 2010 on special teams.
At right corner, Terry Carter is battling to reclaim a starting position he held in 2008 and 2009 while former walk-on DeMarcion Evans has let his consistent play quietly speak for itself. Blasher Saintvil and newcomer Levander Liggins are expected to be in the mix as well.
Ryan Williams, a talented JuCo transfer that played corner and Nickel last season, has been moved to strong safety to take advantage of his size. He has already proven to be a talented player on the field and is expected to be a leader in Tech's secondary this fall. He will be there to guide redshirt freshman Mike Schrang, who will be moving into the spot as the year progresses in preparation for the 2012 season.
At free safety, Jamel Johnson is expected to be a consistent starter and player for Tech while Quinn Giles will back him up. Injuries the last two years have kept Giles bouncing over to run routes as a receiver but added depth on the offense should keep that from happening this fall.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
Defensive Depth Chart