Bulldogs Stay Focused Despite Delay, Finish Practice Strong


 

 

Aug. 7, 2012

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RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech practiced for under two nonconsecutive hours as lightning forced a mid-practice intermission Tuesday evening in Ruston.

The Bulldogs opened practice on the Tech practice fields at 6 p.m. but less than an hour into practice lightning forced a stoppage and sent the team into the locker room for a 40-minute delay. The team returned to action inside Joe Aillet Stadium to finish the day's work.

The most impressive performance of the day was the team not allowing the break to interrupt its work ethic as the group had a better session after the delay than before.

"[After the delay,] we came out here in the stadium and I really liked the way our guys came out and practiced and adjusted," head coach Sonny Dykes said. "It tells you a lot about the maturity of our team. Sometimes after you sit in the locker room for 30-40 minutes it is hard to get them going again. We got them going pretty quickly when we came back out. I was pleased to see that."

Part of the reason for that focus and attitude is the handful of seniors and other teammates having already stepped into leadership roles.

"This is the best team from a team concept that we have had," explained Dykes. "The guys that have been around three years in the program are invested more than they have been. Anytime you are fully invested you are going to want to see things go well and you want to see your teammates do well. These guys are so invested; they come out here and root for each other, they want to be supportive of each other and they know that the better we practice and the more competition there is, it is just going to make us a better team."

The leaders and focus of the group allowed the team to pass an early season character test thrown at them by mother nature.

"I think anytime you can get a change up and make your players adjust it is good. That is just what we talked about to our team. Very seldom does anything go as planned when it comes to college football. There are just so many things involved from travel to team meals to buses to all the other types of things and obviously when negative things happen in a game as well, you have to be able to handle it and respond. I like these kind of tests for our team to see how we can come out. I liked our focus today."

On the field, the team's depth (and offseason strength and conditioning program) is paying dividends as the Bulldogs are still practicing at a high level.

"Today was one of those days where normally at practice five you start to get a little dead-legged and there are a lot of balls on the ground," Dykes said. "But I was pleased, we worked through it today and I thought we looked pretty sharp on offense. You can tell we have depth. Typically at this point guys start to wear down and we have enough depth where we can come out here, get work done and play a lot of different guys. It keeps everybody fresher and faster and I think it results in better practices and better execution. Today was a good example of that."

Louisiana Tech returns to practice on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. on the Tech practice fields. That session, along with all camp sessions, is open to the public.

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

"We had some lightning strikes and we have a lightning protocol that we make sure to follow very closely to make sure we don't put our players in any kind of danger. So we had some strikes inside 10 miles and got off the field as quick as we could until it cleared up."

"[After the delay,] we came out here in the stadium and I really liked the way our guys came out and practiced and adjusted. It tells you a lot about the maturity of our team. Sometimes after you sit in the locker room for 30-40 minutes it is hard to get them going again. We got them going pretty quickly when we came back out. I was pleased to see that."

On the early character test:

"I think anytime you can get a change up and make your players adjust it is good. That is just what we talked about to our team. Very seldom does anything go as planned when it comes to college football. There are just so many things involved from travel to team meals to buses to all the other types of things and obviously when negative things happen in a game as well, you have to be able to handle it and respond. I like these kind of tests for our team to see how we can come out. I liked our focus today."

On the team:

"Today was one of those days where normally at practice five you start to get a little dead-legged and there are a lot of balls on the ground. But I was pleased, we worked through it today and I thought we looked pretty sharp on offense. You can tell we have depth. Typically at this point guys start to wear down and we have enough depth where we can come out here, get work done and play a lot of different guys. It keeps everybody fresher and faster and I think it results in better practices and better execution. Today was a good example of that."

On Tarik Hakmi:

"He is a guy that has been around, played some, has some experience and is a decent runner. He is a big, physical guy and gives us something different. We will see how he does. He has had some injuries and hasn't really been himself but he had done some good things in camp so far and warranted getting a look and did a pretty good job tonight. He just needs to get more consistent; sometimes he looks pretty good then other times he doesn't look as good."

On Conner Smith:

"Conner is a guy we brought to camp because he is a good athlete. He can play quarterback and he can also run. He does a great job giving us some looks on the scout team but he is a great athlete and runs well. We stuck him out there [at receiver] a couple times tonight and he did well. I am kind of curious to see how he does making some runs for us."

On D.J. Banks:

"D.J. has been good, he really has. Sometimes he gets overshadowed a little bit by Quinton [Patton] but he has been solid for us so far. He needs to be a little more consistent for us, more so than he was this spring. That is something he is still working through but I can see him getting better every day. He has great work ethic, is very smart and he is going to come out here every day and practice as hard as he can. I like the direction he is headed, we just have to keep grinding."

On the back and forth of practice and the defense:

"You want it to be back-and-forth. The sign of a pretty good team is when the defense comes out and makes a play and the offense responds or the offense makes a play and the defense responds. I want to see that and I want to see competitive part of both sides of the ball come out on a daily basis. That is good, it shows we have a team that hopefully can win offensively when we need to and hopefully win defensively when we need to."

"There are going to be times when we are going to have to outscore some people and times when we are going to have a hard time moving the ball and the defense is going ot have to keep us in the ballgame. They showed they could do it last year. Obviously we have some big guys to replace but I like the defense and I like their mentality. To me, there is more depth over there than there has been. There are some question marks here and there - at number two spots - but our first 11 are good. I like a lot of our back-ups but we just need them to get some experience."

On leaders stepping up in camp:

"This is the best team from a team concept that we have had. The guys that have been around three years in the program are invested more than they have been. Anytime you are fully invested you are going to want to see things go well and you want to see your teammates do well. These guys are so invested; they come out here and root for each other, they want to be supportive of each other and they know that the better we practice and the more competition there is, it is just going to make us a better team."