Bachmeier, Crosby lead Bulldog QB, RB rooms

Hank Bachmeier will lead the Bulldogs into the Aug. 26 opener against FIU.

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

The Louisiana Tech offensive backfield enters the 2023 season having high expectations with the addition of quarterback Hank Bachmeier and a balanced running backs room headlined by Marquis Crosby.

Bachmeier arrives in Ruston after throwing for over 6,600 yards and 41 touchdowns during his four seasons at Boise State. His career average of 227.8 passing yards a contest ranks 14th nationally and leads all CUSA quarterbacks entering the 2023 season. The Murrieta, Calif., product owns a 20-9 record as a starter and has a career completion percentage of 61.5 percent.

Bachmeier’s biggest emphasis in fall camp is to continue building relationships with his wide receivers and keep improving daily.

“As a quarterback, you have to build relationships with guys, and I think I have done a good job of that,” Bachmeier said. “Overall, this fall, my goal is to improve each day in any way that helps us win.”

Since his arrival, Bachmeier’s experience has stood out to his teammates.

“He is great,” Offensive lineman Carson Bruno said. “You can tell he has been doing this for a long time. It is nice to know that we have someone back there that really knows what he is doing and has done it for quite a while. He was a nice addition to our team.”

Jack Turner is the lone returnee in the LA Tech quarterbacks room from a year ago. As a sophomore, Turner appeared in three games, completing 16 of 29 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. Turner has made significant strides throughout the spring and fall in preparation for the 2023 season.

Turner believes that having a year under his belt with the Bulldogs offense has paid dividends so far in fall camp.

“I have the offense down pretty well,” Turner said. “Coach Cumbie likes to throw wrinkles in there and change it up some, but I have a good understanding of the whole offense in year two, and I am way farther along than a year ago.”

Junior Brendon Strickland rounds out the LA Tech quarterback position in addition to freshmen Blake Baker, Evan Bullock, Jaden Osborne, and Reed O’Dell.

Co-offensive coordinator Jake Brown has been pleased with the quarterbacks’ communication with each other and their receivers during fall camp.

“With Hank (Bachmeier) and Jack (Turner) and all the quarterbacks, one thing that has stood out through fall camp is their communication with the receivers,” Brown said. “After each drive, they communicate, talking about what they saw or anything they should have done differently. It is exciting as coaches to see our guys coaching each other.”

Leading the running backs in 2023 will be former LA Tech standout Teddy Veal who was promoted to running backs coach following the 2022 season. Veal played wide receiver for the Bulldogs from 2017-2018, being named Conference USA Co-Newcomer of the Year in 2017 and earning Honorable Mention All-CUSA honors in 2018.

Veal believes that his experience as a player benefits his ability to coach and relate to his players at Louisiana Tech.

“I have been out here on these same practice fields, buildings, meeting rooms, and stadium,” Veal said. “I can relate more than anybody. I have a different relationship than most people because I have played here and seen most of what they have seen. I know where everything is on campus. If they need any direction, that is what I am here for.”

Headlined by 2022 CFN Honorable Mention All-American Marquis Crosby, in addition to Miami of Ohio transfer Tyre Shelton and Charvis Thornton, the Tech running back room is very balanced in 2023.

“We are very balanced overall,” Veal stated. “We have some outstanding talent and leadership in the room. Out of the five backs that we do have, three of them already have their degree. It says a lot about them and their commitment and accountability for each other. In practice, they coach each other off the field while watching film. I am very excited about the group that we have.”

Crosby broke onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2022, rushing for 918 yards and nine touchdowns on 183 carries. The Hattiesburg, Miss., product ranked sixth nationally among all freshmen in total rushing (918) and fourth among CUSA backs in yards per rush (5.0). He eclipsed the century mark in rushing during four games, highlighted by a 197-yard rushing performance during the Dogs’ 52-17 win over Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 10.

Redshirt juniors Shelton and Thornton are also expected to be in the Bulldogs’ rushing attack in 2023.

Shelton had 85 carries for 321 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. In 2021 he ran for 245 yards and two rushing touchdowns in 2021 while with the RedHawks. As a true freshman in 2019, he made eight starts, collecting 587 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Shelton believes he has fit seamlessly into the Louisiana Tech offense since arriving in Ruston and is also excited to be in an offense that utilizes his skillset.

“I feel really good in this offense,” Shelton said. “It is a lot more comfortable than my last one. In this offense, I will be able to showcase my versatility and all I can do as a football player.”

Thornton carried the ball 80 times for 464 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. The Baton Rouge native rushed for a season-high 132 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the season finale against UAB.

In addition to Crosby, Shelton, and Thornton, Keith Willis Jr has also been impressive in fall camp. Willis ran for 1,515 yards as a senior at CE King High School in Houston, Texas.

“The running back room is looking really good,” Shelton said. “I am the newest face in, and we still have Charvis and Marquis back from last year in addition to a nice freshman in Keith Willis Jr. I feel good about where we are at as a room right now.”

The Bulldogs will continue preparing for their week zero Conference USA showdown with FIU on Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. inside Joe Alliet Stadium when Louisiana Tech opens its 120th collegiate football season.

“A week zero game is very fun, and also it helps us down the road with an extra bye week,” Bachmeier said. “It is always cool to be one of the first games nationally.”