By Malcolm Butler
When Louisiana Tech lines up to face Stephen F. Austin Saturday night at Joe Aillet Stadium, there will be a number of familiar faces across the field for Bulldog defensive backs Myles Brooks and Willie Roberts.
In fact a whole team of familiar faces.
The same will hold true for Tech assistant coaches Scott Power, Marcus Walker and Nathan Young.
This time last year all five were wearing purple and gray Stephen F. Austin uniforms and calling Nacogdoches, Texas, home.
Enter newly named LA Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie.
The new Bulldog Boss raided Nacogdoches after being hired by Tech, landing the three assistant coaches.
“When we played them at Texas Tech last year, we were like these guys are really hard to play against offensively,” said Cumbie. “Just how they attacked us defensively. It was something I stored in the back of my brain. Hey, that Scott Power is a really good defensive coach. Then when I hired him I wanted him to have a sense of comfort with his staff and allowed him to bring guys that would bring his defensive philosophy.”
Soon after Brooks and Roberts followed suit after entering the transfer portal.
So what will Saturday be like for those guys?
“I feel like me and Myles will get their best game,” said Roberts. “I feel like they will go at us. I feel their main objective is obviously to put points on the board against us. But as far as the game in general, I just want to go out there and have fun playing against the guys that I played with at SFA.”
Roberts, a junior out of Ft. Worth, Texas, registered 85 tackles, 21 pass break ups and six interceptions during his 34 games with Stephen F. Austin.
So has he been talking to his former teammates about the upcoming match-up this weekend?
“We keep in touch,” said Roberts. “We talked about their games each and every week. But as far as this upcoming game, we haven’t really talked about it. But we still stay in touch.”
Cumbie told media members during Tuesday’s press conference that SFA boasts one of the top wide receivers that the Bulldogs will face this year in senior Xavier Gipson.
Gipson and the rest of the returning Stephen F. Austin receivers are very familiar with Brooks and Roberts. And vice versa.
So how will that play into Saturday’s game?
“I feel like once you go against guys each and every single day you learn their tendencies, their strengths,their weaknesses,” said Roberts. “I feel like they know what we do and we know what they do. I feel like it’ll be a competitive game, a good game. We just have to go out there and play our best game.”
According to Cumbie, it’s a matter of staying focused on the moment and not getting caught up in any type of hype that may surround the game for the five former Stephen F. Austin players and coaches now on the Tech sideline.
“It’s hard when you care about people,” said Cumbie. “If you are in the profession and care about people, it is not easy. But at end of day we are all competitors and we want to put our best foot forward. Players just have to play within their abilities. It’s not one player against an entire team. That’s what our mindset needs to be Saturday.”
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium.