Louisiana Tech may have lost some importance in the eyes of the national media after last weekend’s overtime loss to Utah State, but Sonny Dykes’ team cannot sit around and sulk about what was lost.
If the Bulldogs want a chance at a share of the WAC title, they are going to have to bounce back and beat a very talented San Jose State team on the road Saturday night.
The key for this team against the Spartans will be to start strong, something it was not able to do against the Aggies on Saturday.
In addition to digging a 17-3 deficit by halftime, the Bulldogs were never really able to get things going offensively until about midway through the third quarter. At one point, Utah State had built a 24-point lead.
Both of Louisiana Tech’s losses this season have been characterized by slow starts. Another slow start against San Jose State could spell trouble for the Bulldogs, especially considering how the Spartans have played recently.
Since losing to Utah State on Oct. 13, San Jose State has reeled off five straight victories, scoring at least 31 points in four of those games.
After Utah State, the Spartans have the best defense in the WAC. However, like the Aggies, San Jose State’s offense has been largely underrated all season.
Spartans quarterback David Fales is second to Colby Cameron in passing yards and is tied with the Louisiana Tech senior for the WAC lead with 28 passing touchdowns. Fales is also the conference’s most accurate quarterback among starters, completing 72.5 percent of his passes.
Like Chuckie Keeton a week ago, Fales has the potential to cause significant problems for a Louisiana Tech defense that has had trouble with almost everyone this season. The Bulldogs allow an FBS-worst 518.5 yards on defense, including 338 yards through the air.
It will be imperative that Louisiana Tech apply pressure to Fales, who has been sacked 28 times this season.
Luckily, getting to the quarterback is one of the few things the Bulldogs do well on defense.
Louisiana Tech averages almost two sacks per contest, and has a very capable pass rusher in defensive lineman IK Enemkpali. The Bulldogs actually did manage to come up with a few key stops on defense against Utah State last week, but unfortunately the hole it dug early proved to be too deep.
So the key to the game again falls to a fast start.
The nation was beginning to learn quarterback Colby Cameron’s name, as the senior had yet to throw an interception entering Saturday’s matchup. After throwing two interceptions in the loss, Cameron appeared to be yet another story of a pretty decent quarterback that simply hadn’t faced a good defense.
Cameron has the chance to prove the doubters wrong, though. His leadership and ability will be very important in determining the outcome of this game.
After a loss like last weekend, which ended Louisiana Tech’s hopes of going to a BCS bowl and cost the team the outright WAC title, it would not be entirely surprising if it came out flat against San Jose State.
Thus, players like Cameron will be instrumental in determining the overall focus of this team.
Judging from the Spartans’ game against Utah State, it is reasonable to assume that Louisiana Tech has the offensive power to overwhelm San Jose State if the defense merely makes a few stops. But the team will have had to move on from last weekend’s heartbreak in order to come out strong on Saturday.