Louisiana Tech’s defensive secondary will get a test to start the season when the Bulldogs travel to Starkville Saturday to face pass-happy Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium and the game will be televised on ESPNU.
Leach and Co. are known for flinging the pigskin all over the gridiron and nothing indicates a change for this year’s Starkville-based Bulldogs. Tech head coach Skip Holtz said during Tuesday’s weekly press conference that trying to prepare for such an aerial assault can be challenging.
“It’s hard to simulate,” said Holtz. “It’s very hard to simulate. We’ve tried for most of camp to have what we call a fast start period where it’s all tempo plays going as quick as you can getting acclimated to the speed when people try and tempo you so it’s not the first time our defense has seen it.
“Now, saying that, it’s very hard for 60 minutes to go out there and duplicate the explosiveness and the experience (Mississippi State) has. They have seven returning starters. Quarterback’s back. Both their running backs are back. One of them was their leading receiver.”
In fact, if you look at LA Tech’s first three games of the year (Mississippi State, Southeastern Louisiana and SMU), the Bulldogs defense may see more pass attempts against them then any other team in the country in the opening three weeks.
Mississippi State will simply be the first aerial test for Tech.
“They have a really talented football team and a very explosive team offensively,” said Holtz. “You look at what they did in the opening game a year ago when they lined up against LSU and put up 44 points. It is an explosive team with a lot of experience.”
There were plenty of growing pains in the first year under Leach in Starkville, as Mississippi State posting a 4-7 record which included a 28-26 win over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl. However, Holtz knows that the second year in Leach’s offensive system will give the other Bulldogs even more confidence on Saturday.
“I’m sure Mississippi State feels (more prepared in year No. 2 of the system),” said Holtz. “We’ve done the best job we can to get our defense prepared for what’s coming at them. We have to keep that ball in front of us, rally on it, break on it and make them snap it again.”
Photo: Darrell James
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