Bulldogs Prepare for "Mystery" Mississippi Valley State
RUSTON (August 25) - Louisiana Tech opens its 2000 season Saturday, August 26, as the Bulldogs host Mississippi Valley State at Joe Aillet Stadium at 6 p.m. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m.
Although the Bulldogs coaching staff has been game-planning for quite some time, head coach Jack Bicknell said he isn't sure what to expect Saturday. "The first game is always difficult because you never know how that team will come out," Bicknell said. "A lot of times teams go into the off-season and install new schemes. It's difficult when you don't have film on them."
Mississippi Valley State returns 10 starters from last year's 3-8 team that finished ninth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, including the SWAC's preseason Player of the Year in Holmes.
Holmes rushed for 1,692 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, gaining an impressive 5.1 yards per rush.
"He is an excellent back," said Tech Head Coach Bicknell. "He is someone the defense is really going to half to focus on during the game. He could really hurt you if your defense doesn't swarm to the ball."
The Bulldogs return five starters on the defensive side of the ball, including sophomore free safety Michael John Lenard. The West Monroe, La., native said he also isn't sure what to expect from the Delta Devils offensively.
"I am not real sure what to expect," Lenard said. "They have a real good running back who is impressive on film. They have a new quarterback who is real tall, so I figure they will try to throw the ball a bit more this year."
In addition to a new signal caller, the Delta Devils have hired former record-setting quarterback Willie "Satellite" Totten as the new offensive coordinator, which has Bicknell a little concerned.
"Willie Totten is their new offensive coordinator, and he may be doing something completely different than what they have done in the past few years," Bicknell said. "It has definitely been a challenge trying to prepare."
Lenard said the Tech defense would just have to be ready for anything. "I think we will just have to game plan by what they did last year, and then be ready to make adjustments."
Offensively, junior quarterback Brian Stallworth takes over the reigns for the NFL-bound Tim Rattay after completing 29-of-49 passes for 476 yards and three touchdowns in 1999. The Baton Rouge, La., said he expects to the Delta Devils to come ready to play.
"They blitz a lot from what we've seen (on tape)," Stallworth said. "They have some talented players on defense. They are a good football team. We have to go into every game like we are playing Kansas State or Penn State. We are going to play hard, and take what they give us."