RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech practiced for two hours on the Tech Practice Fields Tuesday afternoon, following up a two-a-day with a single session in shells.
The practice allowed the team to continue to polish and improve upon the installation taught last week and refined during shorts practices during the morning of two-a-days. Today's session came after a very physical two-a-day night session where the players saw an extended team period in goal line situations.
"I put them in shells out here after a very physical night last night where we had a lot of team," head coach Skip Holtz said after Tuesday's practice. "We went about an hour in team last night and finished up with a goal line scrimmage, trying to give some evaluations of where we are. I am really excited about some of the progress I am seeing with some of the offense right now. I think they are doing some really good things and it is starting to come together."
Tuesday was another example of the offense and the defense making each other better with the two groups trading better days and even series during team drills.
"I continually say that we keep sharpening each other," Holtz said. "When the defense has a good day it seems like the offense is quick to bounce back and when the offense has a good day then the defense is bouncing back. It is going back and forth and right now it is really exciting to see because it is making us better the way that they are competing against each other. This is a really close group and I really like the way that they are working right now."
One of the marked improvements, at least on the offensive side, has been protecting the football. Last season Louisiana Tech committed 29 turnovers throughout the year, up from 13 in the previous season.
"I don't know that it is an emphasis but we are doing a much better job of it," Holtz said of the turnovers. "We emphasized that last year too but we didn't do a very good job of protecting it. I think the players really understand the importance of it. This staff has done a great job of pulling out clips from last year and showing where turnovers got us beat. If we didn't turn the ball over the number of times that we did, you have a chance to win three or four more games. They played hard but we didn't always play smart. That is one of the things this team has really taken to heart that it is not about playing hard but about playing smart and following the plan that it takes to win. Turnovers are definitely part of it and that has been evident by the way the quarterbacks have been protecting the ball and the ball security the running backs have had to this point."
"The thing we were really concerned about was building it on the offensive side of the ball with so many new faces," explained Holtz. "Some guys are really stepping up and I have really been pleased with the way [Joseph] Brunson, [Rick] Greenwalt, Mitchell Bell, Tre Carter has had a great camp, Cody Sokol and Ryan Higgins are getting really vocal, Kenneth Dixon has always been very vocal. It is nice to see the offense really start to gel together because that is the big challenge we have for this football team is to build our offense, especially with where we were a year ago and how many new faces we have again this year."
Fans get their chance to meet the Bulldogs at a pair of Fan Fest/meet-n-greet events coming up this week with an opening scrimmage on Friday at 3:15 p.m. at Independence Stadium in Shreveport with the meet-n-greet immediately following. On Saturday, fans can arrive at Tailgate Alley and Argent Pavilion on the Ruston campus beginning at 4 p.m. to tailgate with free food being given away with the team joining the festivities to sign autographs at 6:30 p.m.
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