Cumbie-era opens at Mizzou tonight

Sonny Cumbie and the Bulldogs open at Missouri tonight at 7 p.m. (photo by Hunter Corneliusen)

by Malcolm Butler

The Sonny Cumbie era at Louisiana Tech starts tonight..

Cumbie will lead Louisiana Tech into its opener tonight at 7 p.m. when the Bulldogs face SEC foe Missouri at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. in a game televised on ESPNU.

The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on 107.5 FM (Ruston) as well as the affiliates located throughout north and central Louisiana. It can also be heard on the LA Tech Athletics app with Malcolm Butler (PxP) and Teddy Allen (Analyst) providing a call of the game. Pregame show is set for 5:30 p.m.

Cumbie was introduced as Tech’s head coach on December 1, And since the introductory press conference, the former Texas Tech interim head coach (2021) said he hasn’t slowed down. 

“The last eight or nine months have gone by quickly,” said Cumbie. “It feels like just last week I was introduced. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

The Cumbie-led Dogs will look to bounce back from a 3-9 season in 2021 that saw the program’s streak of seven straight bowl games snapped and coach Skip Holtz relieved of his coaching duties after nine seasons in Ruston. 

The match-up will be a first. Tech and Missouri as the Bulldogs and the Tigers have never met on the gridiron. In fact, the game will mark the first contest ever played by a Tech football team in the state of Missouri.

Cumbie said he is looking forward to seeing his team perform on a national stage on Thursday night.  

“We really hope our football program can continue the positive momentum set by so many of our other athletic programs this past winter and spring,” said Cumbie. “I am excited to see what this football team has against a really good opponent in Missouri at a really tough place to play. I am excited to see what the 2022 Bulldogs look like on Thursday night. There are a lot of unknowns.”

This marks the fifth straight year that LA Tech has opened up on the road, the third longest such streak in the country. 

Tech quarterback Matthew Downing, who was named the starter by Cumbie just over a week ago, has been on a Georgia team that played at Missouri in 2018. Although he was red-shirting that season, Downing said he feels like he can draw from the experience and others at Power 5 venues. 

“Obviously I didn’t play, but I was there and able to experience it (in 2018),” said Downing. “Being in Memorial Stadium a time before I think will definitely help. 

“Being in those environments at Georgia and even TCU and going on the road to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and Iowa State … big stadiums like that … I definitely think it helps being able to be there before. I think it would definitely help going to the game. We just need to go out there and play our game and do what we can do.”

Missouri is coming off a 6-7 season that saw the Tigers win five out of seven on Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. 

“I think it’s an interesting game,” said Cumbie. “Because of the turnover on both sides of the ball for both teams and the personnel. And it’s probably the same way all over college football in terms of personnel. I think it will be a little bit of a feeling out process. It’s a matter of who can settle in and make routine plays early on.”

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