Louisiana Tech Hosts New Mexico State with WAC Title on the Line
Nov. 25, 2011
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech returns home for the team’s regular season finale Saturday as the Bulldogs (7-4, 5-1 Western Athletic) host New Mexico State (4-7, 2-3 WAC) at 3 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium with a chance to clinch a WAC Championship.
Saturday’s game will be televised by ESPN Regional with Trey Bender (play-by-play) and Jay Taylor (analysis) calling the action. Cox Sports in Louisiana and Altitude (available on most satellite systems) will simulcast the game live allowing for Bulldog fans from coast-to-coast to tune in.
Louisiana Tech is riding a six-game winning streak entering the game while the Aggies have the chance to play potential spoiler. A Bulldog win would clinch at least a share of the WAC title and would also reportedly bring a bid to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against a Mountain West opponent. A Bulldog loss would drop Tech into second place in the league standings and change the team’s bowl outlook.
“We’re going to have to have energy this week because New Mexico State is coming in here without anything to lose,” said Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. “When a team comes in like that, they will play hard and aggressive all game. They will be zoned in from beginning to end and very prepared to face us.”
Tech is coming off an improbable 24-20 win at Nevada, the Wolf Pack’s first home loss since 2009, after trailing by 17 points with less than 13 minutes left to play. That game was said to be a microcosm of the Bulldogs’ improbable run this season.
“It was a fun and exciting game,” Dykes said. “I was very proud that we hung in there and extremely proud of our effort and resiliency. That game was a microcosm of our season; not great early, but keep hanging in, slug away and keep expecting something good to happen and all of a sudden good things happened for us and we were able to make plays down the stretch.”
Now Tech has to adjust to the unfamiliar position of being the favorite and no longer the underdog with plenty on the line. The message this week in practice has been to forget everything else and just focus on what can be controlled.
“We try to focus on what we control and that’s playing well, preparing well and doing the little things right,” explained Dykes. “When you get into games like this, you have a tendency to think about things that don’t really matter and this team has been great at only worrying about what we can control. We want to focus on improving and practicing/playing well.”
Tech’s defense, guided by 2011 Broyles Award Nominee Tommy Spangler, will face an offense ranked 17th in the nation in passing and 45th in the nation overall and boasts several athletes. The Aggies most daunting aspect on offense, and defense, is the speed with which they play.
“Their speed,” Dykes said of the most daunting aspect of the Aggies. “They have guys that can run on offense and defense. They have great speed and transfers from a lot of California universities/junior colleges. Most of their guys can run. When I was in Arizona, a lot of those guys were guys we recruited to Arizona or were guys that we knew about. They have a lot of good skilled position players on both sides on the ball. They are very explosive offensively. They throw the ball down the field more than any offense I’ve seen in a while. They going to take their shots and we are going to have to make tons of competitive plays on the ball because they are not going to be afraid to throw it down the field. It starts with our defensive front. We are going to have to pressure the quarterback and make him uncomfortable. If you allow him to sit in the pocket, they have a lot of guys that can run and make plays.”
Meanwhile Louisiana Tech’s offense, which struggled for almost 50 minutes of last week’s game at Nevada, is looking to continue the momentum it built at the end of last week’s come-from-behind victory.
“We’re just going about our business, and play one game at a time,” said junior wide receiver Quinton Patton. “We’re not worried about the championship. We’re just trying to win our next game and worry about preparing and improving in practice on a daily basis.”
The game can be heard statewide on the LA Tech Sports Network as Dave Nitz, Teddy Allen, Max Causey and Bennie Thornell will team up to provide all the live play-by-play, color commentary and more. The show will start with a one-hour pregame and will conclude with a 30-minute postgame.
For the 13th straight year, KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) will serve as the flagship station for Bulldog football. Joining KXKZ on the network this year are KLKL 95.7 FM (Shreveport/Bossier City), KTKC 92.9 FM (Springhill), KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield), KVCL 92.1 FM (Winnfield), KBEF 104.5 FM (Minden), WUBR 910 AM (Baton Rouge, Zachary) and KTTP 1110 AM (Alexandria).
Throughout the year, Tech fans can also access the audio for away games and audio/video for home games by purchasing a subscription to LA Tech All-Access by logging onto www.latechsports.com.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, follow @LATechPWalsh on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.