Louisiana Tech Endures Heat in Mid-Afternoon Practice


 

 

Aug. 9, 2012

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RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech got its first real test of the heat as it practiced for two hours in the 90-plus degree heat during the mid-afternoon Thursday.

Prior to Thursday's practice - the seventh session of fall camp - the team has benefited from strong winds or cloud cover, making an easy transition into fall camp for the players. That came to an abrupt halt Thursday with an afternoon practice.

"It was a hot one," said associate head coach Rob Likens. "It was really our first test of character. It wasn't perfect; there were dropped balls and it was sloppy at times and that is to be expected on the very first hot practice. This was the first time where we have been out here and the sun has been out the entire two hours. I saw that collectively more people than in the past were pushing through the heat and trying to do the right things. I also saw guys trying to get other guys going and helping them push through the heat. Before, we'd have some selfish players just try to get through it themselves but today I saw guys trying to help other guys get through, which was very encouraging."

Likens highlighted the leadership of the older players in the tough conditions as a highlight of Thursday's session.

"We have really good leadership," explained Likens. "What also has been great is we have a lot of players that we have been coaching for two years and I hear them on the field repeating the same things that we were coaching them about the last couple years. They are now coaching the young players which tells us that these guys have bought into what we have going on."

That leadership and an overall team in better physical shape is, in Likens' opinion, the major difference from the team today and this team one year ago.

"I think we are in better shape and I think we have, collectively, more guys that have bought into the system. I see better leadership like IK [Enemkpali]. I tell you what; he has just been a beast for us. He is a great player and now he is a great leaders which, heck, is what it is all about," Likes said.

One of the more improved players, particularly in Likens' group of outside receivers has been Tulane transfer D.J. Banks. A product of West Monroe High School, Banks had to sit out the 2011 season due to the NCAA transfer rule.

"When Jacarri [Jackson] went down - and he has been out for a couple days - D.J. has stepped up," Likens said. "We saw real early, actually in the spring last year, that D.J. was going to be a great player for us. Then fall camp [last year] really told us a lot about his character. Here is a guy that we knew wouldn't play one snap the entire season and he may have practiced harder than anybody out there. That says a lot about that kid. My guys, the outside receivers, rallied around that at the beginning of camp. Quinton [Patton] brought them all up at the beginning of camp and said `Look, if we will all just practice like D.J. Banks did in camp last year, we will be a great team.' That tells you a lot about what the kids think of him and we think he is going to be a pretty good player for us."

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 @LATechFB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.

 

QUOTES

Louisiana Tech associate head coach Rob Likens

"It was a hot one. It was really our first test of character. It wasn't perfect; there were dropped balls and it was sloppy at times and that is to be expected on the very first hot practice. This was the first time where we have been out here and the sun has been out the entire two hours. I saw that collectively more people than in the past were pushing through the heat and trying to do the right things. I also saw guys trying to get other guys going and helping them push through the heat. Before, we'd have some selfish players just try to get through it themselves but today I saw guys trying to help other guys get through, which was very encouraging."

"We have really good leadership. What also has been great is we have a lot of players that we have been coaching for two years and I hear them on the field repeating the same things that we were coaching them about the last couple years. They are now coaching the young players which tells us that these guys have bought into what we have going on."

On the difference between now and one year ago:

"I think we are in better shape and I think we have, collectively, more guys that have bought into the system. I see better leadership like IK [Enemkpali]. I tell you what; he has just been a beast for us. He is a great player and now he is a great leaders which, heck, is what it is all about."

On Ryan Higgins stepping in for Zach Griffith:

"[Ryan Higgins] didn't know this morning that this was going to happen because Zach just got sick and he had to sit out of today's practice. Ryan jumped in there and one thing that he has shown is that he is very competitive. He may not do everything right but he is going to do it full speed. The kids really like him to the huddle - well, we don't huddle - but he brings a lot of energy to the field."

On D.J. Banks:

"When Jacarri [Jackson] went down - and he has been out for a couple days - D.J. has stepped up. We saw real early, actually in the spring last year, that D.J. was going to be a great player for us. Then fall camp [last year] really told us a lot about his character. Here is a guy that we knew wouldn't play one snap the entire season and he may have practiced harder than anybody out there. That says a lot about that kid. My guys, the outside receivers, rallied around that at the beginning of camp. Quinton [Patton] brought them all up at the beginning of camp and said `Look, if we will all just practice like D.J. Banks did in camp last year, we will be a great team.' That tells you a lot about what the kids think of him and we think he is going to be a pretty good player for us."