Posted Aug 31, 2007 10:18:39
Dooley’s Dawgs Ready to Open Season
RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech football coach Derek Dooley said his team is ready to start the 2007 season this weekend and faces a good opponent in Central Arkansas when the Bulldogs kickoff at 6 p.m. Saturday at Joe Aillet Stadium.
“I think first off when you look at Central Arkansas, it starts with coaching,” Dooley said. “Any time a program has won eight games five out of the last six years, it’s a good indicator they’re doing a good job of coaching.”
Saturday will be Dooley’s head coaching debut. He is one of 14 coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision coaching their first games as the lead man. Central Arkansas’ coach has been at his position since 2000, but he has ties to Tech.
Clint Conque served as an assistant coach at Tech from 1993-99 with stints as the offensive coordinator, running backs coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator. Conque has led his Bears to the Division II playoffs and finished 8-3 last season in UCA’s first season in the Division I-AA ranks (now Football Championship Subdivision).
The two teams have similarities when it comes to their offenses. Both teams return key elements from last year’s unit with the same losses. The Bulldogs and Bears both welcome back their starting quarterbacks and running backs from 2006, and each lost two receivers. Defensively, Tech returns 10 starters but starts fresh with a new scheme and coaching staff. UCA lost much of its starting defenders. Dooley said both teams can relate to each other when it comes to putting players on the field.
“When you look at the two teams personnel wise I think it’s a good matchup because they have the same question marks as we do,” Dooley said. “Certainly we’re going to be in for a good four quarter battle, and with they’re success in the past you know they’re going to come in with confidence and give you a good fight.”
Quarterback Zac Champion said he and his teammates are anxious to get the season started and put 2006 behind them. After a 3-10 campaign last year, the Bulldogs are ready to get this year started on a positive note, but Champion knows Central Arkansas will come ready.
“They’re going to be a tough team. They play hard. They don’t blitz a lot, but they’re a tough team,” Champion said. “They’re going to want to come up here and beat us and we’re going to have our hands full for sure.”
Opening at home is another positive the team is looking forward to after traveling to Nebraska to start last year. However, Champion said it doesn’t matter who the Bulldogs play on opening day. Tech still has to be prepared for a challenge.
“To me it’s in the past,” Champion said of the 2006 season. “It’s just a game; it’s whoever you have to prepare for whether it’s Central Arkansas or Nebraska or whoever. These guys are going to play just as hard as Nebraska played. It’s about making decisions and doing what you can to win.”