First Day in Pads Brings Physical Play at Louisiana Tech


 

 

Aug. 6, 2012

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RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech held its first football practice in shoulder pads and the players took full advantage of the extra protection with a very physical practice on the Tech practice fields Monday evening.

The defensive unit was especially motivated to make big stops with big hits and the first team unit shut down the first team offense early in practice. The offense battled back later in practice with some strikes of its own.

"It was a good day, it was a physical day," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "I liked the way our guys came out with a high level of intensity. I was really pleased with the effort. This has been a good group so far; these guys really practice hard and make each other better. We just have to continue to come out and practice hard and do a better job probably of taking care of each other than we did today but I did like the intensity."

The first day in pads gave a better look at the linemen, linebackers and running backs with their ability to not shy away from contact. The offensive line was the most impressive bunch out of that group but that is not surprising considering that unit returns four starters that have a combined 91 starts to their credit.

"What I liked was with our first team offensive line - those guys are playing really well together," Dykes said. "They have a good sense of what the other guys is doing and seem to be a mature group and are playing well together. That is important for those five guys; they have to operate well as a unit. They are doing that better than any time they have in the past. I think our run blocking has been pretty good with that group as well. I have been pleased with those guys so far."

While the coaches saw what they expected out of Hunter Lee and Ray Holley, freshman Kenneth Dixon was able to show a level of physical play that drew comments from the crowd on hand to watch Monday's practice.

"Kenneth [Dixon] is a big guy, he is a load," Dykes said. "He has to learn how to avoid those collisions and we have to learn how to practice well together. He is going to be a tough guy to tackle. We think he does a good job of running behind his pads but we will see how he does over the long haul. Sometimes freshmen tend to wear out a little bit but he is one of those kids that is strong enough, physical enough and we think mature enough that we think he is a special guy and have high expectations for him. We will see how it plays out."

With the physical play, a couple of defensive linemen and a linebacker also made impressions on the coaching staff Monday.

"Jon'al White did some good things up front today," recalled Dykes. "He is someone who showed up time and time again. I was really pleased with Chip Hester; he is starting to come into his own. He has a little bit better sense of what we are doing defensively. He has shown flashes before and has not been as consistent as he needs to be. Kendrick James - I have been really, really pleased with what he has done so far. He has done a good job with his pass rush and I think he has played physical at that end spot. He has been a pleasant surprise. We were expecting good things out of him but he has been everything we have expected and then some so far."

Louisiana Tech returns to the Tech practice fields Tuesday for another 6 p.m. practice in helmets and shoulder pads.

Louisiana Tech opens its season Aug. 30 in a historic matchup against SEC foe Texas A&M at Shreveport's Independence Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Season tickets as well as individual game tickets can be purchased by calling 318-257-3631, emailing techtickets@latech.edu or by logging onto www.LATechsports.com.

Fans are also encouraged to sign up their young Bulldog and Techster fans with a membership to the LA Tech Kids Club (only $40 per year gets free admittance to all LA Tech regular season, on-campus home events as well as numerous other benefits).

Tech will host a pair of team autograph sessions in the coming weeks as Bulldog fans can meet this year's players and coaches on Aug. 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium and Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Independence Stadium. For more information, log onto www.LATechsports.com.

Tech fans are also encouraged to financially support the University's dedicated and talented student-athletes, coaches and staff by joining the Louisiana Tech Athletic Club (LTAC). As the University approaches a new era of Conference USA membership starting July 1, 2013, these types of financial gifts are vital to the continued success. Anyone interesting in becoming a member of LTAC can do so by calling Adam McGuirt at 318-255-7950. More information can be found online at www.LATechsports.com or at www.LATechAlumni.org.

For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please follow @LATechPWalsh on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.

 

QUOTES

Louisiana Tech Head Coach Sonny Dykes

"That is kind of what you expect from the first practice [in shoulder pads]. They practice for three days with no pads and then they get anxious to pop each other."

"It was a good day, it was a physical day. I liked the way our guys came out with a high level of intensity. I was really pleased with the effort. This has been a good group so far; these guys really practice hard and make each other better. We just have to continue to come out and practice hard and do a better job probably of taking care of each other than we did today but I did like the intensity."

On Kenneth Dixon:

"Kenneth [Dixon] is a big guy, he is a load. He has to learn how to avoid those collisions and we have to learn how to practice well together. He is going to be a tough guy to tackle. We think he does a good job of running behind his pads but we will see how he does over the long haul. Sometimes freshmen tend to wear out a little bit but he is one of those kids that is strong enough, physical enough and we think mature enough that we think he is a special guy and have high expectations for him. We will see how it plays out."

On the worry of peaking too soon:

"You have to come out here every day and get better. You only get a certain number of practices before you play so we have to maximize them. I want the guys to come out here and be intense but at the same time I want us to keep improving. I thought today we set the bar pretty high with our first padded practice. We have to continue to improve on it.

On the offensive line:

"I have been really pleased with the offensive line. I think our pass protection is very much improved over where it was in the spring and certainly a year ago. We will see how it plays out over the long haul but right now I am pleased with that group. I think we have some depth and we need to continue to build depth. The thing I like is we lost Jordan Mills during the first practice and Larry Banks came in and really has been playing well and took his spot. That is what we need to have - eight to 10 and maybe even 12 guys that we can play with and win with. If we do that with that group then it should be a good group for us."

"What I liked was with our first team offensive line - those guys are playing really well together. They have a good sense of what the other guys is doing and seem to be a mature group and are playing well together. That is important for those five guys; they have to operate well as a unit. They are doing that better than any time they have in the past. I think our run blocking has been pretty good with that group as well. I have been pleased with those guys so far."

On the overall health of the team:

"We have been fine. We have stuff here and there but it is nothing that is going to hold anybody out for a significant amount of time. It is good, it is early in camp and guys are still pretty fresh. We lost our legs a little bit today and they will be a little sore tomorrow but we will have to push through it. I am really pleased with what I have seen so far."

On Jacarri Jackson's injury:

"I don't think [his injury is significant]. We are going to wait and see how it plays out. It is probably  something that is going to hold him out at least a couple of weeks. After that, I am not quite sure yet."

On who stood out on the defense:

"Jon'al White did some good things up front today. He is someone who showed up time and time again. I was really pleased with Chip Hester; he is starting to come into his own. He has a little bit better sense of what we are doing defensively. He has shown flashes before and has not been as consistent as he needs to be. Kendrick James - I have been really, really pleased with what he has done so far. He has done a good job with his pass rush and I think he has played physical at that end spot. He has been a pleasant surprise. We were expecting good things out of him but he has been everything we have expected and then some so far."