Skip Holtz era as 99 student-athletes reported for fall camp Sunday afternoon.
The student-athletes arrived on campus and checked in with the coaching staff, received dormitory room keys and had their 2014 head shots taken along with receiving their full fall camp schedule.
"It is the first day of the 2014 season," said Holtz. "It is a big day for us to be here. It is great to see everybody here. It was great to see so many faces in Dallas. What a difference having the media day just three and half, four hours away, and so many people were able to get there, so I appreciate everybody that made that trip. It is a new season and 2014 is here. We are really excited to get started. All 99 players that were anticipated to report today, reported. That is always a good thing when you can start with 100 percent attendance. We don't have any surprises with our upperclassmen or signing class."
The 99 reporting student-athletes came from 12 states overall with 83 players on scholarship after the Bulldogs played with only 79 scholarship players last season.
"Right now we are at 83 which is a huge jump from last year when we played at 79," Holtz said of the scholarship players on the roster. "One of the things that really limits you is you only have 25 initials and we talked about when 32 players walk out the door, you can only replace 25 of them with incoming players. That is what we have tried to do is try to use some of the scholarships without using an initial with some of the guys we have talked about like Conner Smith and Kyle Fischer and those guys that have been here to help us get back to 85, then you can be healthy enough where you can go sign 25 a year and not feel like you are under the limit."
This year not only marks the second year under Holtz but also the team's second year in Conference USA.
"I am more at ease as far as being around the players and understanding them a little bit more having been around them for a year and a half rather than six months at this point, but probably feeling a bigger sense of urgency because I do think we have more talent than we had a year ago going into the season," Holtz said of entering his second fall camp in Ruston. "I think a lot of them just got here though. Like Tony Johnson got here last year at this time when Cody [Sokol] and Houston Bates, and we redshirted him because it is so difficult to come into camp and be ready to go. That is probably my biggest sense of urgency right now is what we have to do to kind of bring it all together and make sure we can give our most talented players an opportunity to get on the field."
Louisiana Tech opens the season on Aug. 30 at Oklahoma in a game that will be televised on a pay-per-view basis with a 6 p.m. CT kickoff. LA Tech will face four bowl teams from a year ago in the first five weeks of the 2014 season - all on the road - with the first three games being played in a 13-day span.
"I noticed the Coaches' Poll came out this week. I saw where Oklahoma is No. 3 and Auburn is No. 5," Holtz said of the team's non-conference opponents. "Having to play four of our first five opponents against bowl teams on the road is not going to be easy and having to play the first three on the road against bowl teams in the first 13 days of the season, I don't think anyone in the country has as difficult of an opening to their year as we do and what we are walking into. It is going to be a phenomenal challenge for us with so many new faces we talked about and having to put this team together and be tested early on the road with Oklahoma, Lafayette and North Texas. It is going to be a great challenge for us and it is certainly not going to be easy, but with challenges also come phenomenal opportunities, and that is what we are going to have early in this season as we get into this."
Season tickets for the 2014 season are can be purchased by contacting the LA Tech Ticket Office at 318-257-3631 or by emailing TechTickets@LATech.edu with packages as low as $90. Fans can also purchase season tickets by visiting the LA Tech Ticket Office located in the Thomas Assembly Center between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or by visiting LATechSports.com.
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