Bulldogs will count on defensive experience early in 2021

With 10 of 11 defensive starters back, and a big question mark at quarterback, expect Louisiana Tech’s football team to rely upon the stop troops early in the Bulldogs’ 2021 season.

The 2021 roster returns 55 letter winners, including 29 on defense, 23 on offense and three specialists, and 18 starters, including 10 defensive starters, five offensive and three specialists, from the 2020 campaign.

The Bulldogs started their preseason camp Friday with an unsettled situation behind center, but a rock-solid lineup on the other side of the ball.

One of those defensive returners is senior linebacker Ezekiel Barnett. Barnett, who started his LA Tech career as a walk on, played in 45 games as a Louisiana Tech Bulldog which is tied for the most Tech appearances by a player on the 2021 roster.

“It was nice to be with the guys for fall camp,” Barnett said. “It was nice having a sense of normalcy compared to last year. Obviously, we are still taking precautions, but it was nice to be out there and getting the feel of things. The team is working to achieve our ultimate goal.”

Two of the five returning offensive starters are on the offensive line in juniors Joshua Mote and Abraham Delfin. The duo started in all 10 games of the 2020 season at left guard and right guard, respectively.

“It’s good to be out there with the whole team because during the summer we are all separated into different groups and you don’t see some of those guys,” Mote, a 2021 Conference USA Preseason Watch List honoree, said. “It’s just good to be all together. I’m excited about this year.”

Though there are a lot of familiar faces on the 2021 roster, there are also plenty of new Bulldogs that fans can look forward to cheering on this season. Since the 2020 season came to a close, Louisiana Tech has added 13 transfers with nine on the offensive side of the ball and four on the defensive.

Among the offensive transfers is Austin Kendall, who started nine 2019 games at quarterback at West Virginia after opening his college days with three years at Oklahoma behind NFL stars Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. The Bulldogs returning QBs are Luke Anthony, who played most of last year before a major leg injury in the regular season finale, and Aaron Allen, who was erratic in his first collegiate action in 2020.

“There’s an awful lot of talent and a great attitude right now and that’s all I can ask for,” head coach Skip Holtz said. “It’s a three-week process that we have to get to build this football team and get ready for the first game. I really like the attitude and the way they’re working.”

Louisiana Tech opens the 2021 season at Mississippi State on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. Tech will enjoy a three-game home stretch beginning against Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. inside Joe Aillet Stadium.

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