By Malcolm Butler
Louisiana Tech ranks No. 1 in the country in pass defense after a Week Zero win over FIU.
That number will be tested today when the Bulldogs face SMU in an 11 a.m. kickoff at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
Tech fans can hear the broadcast on the LA Tech Sports Network on 107.5 FM with Malcolm Butler, Teddy Allen and Jerry Byrd providing a call of the action. It can also be seen on ESPNU.
Head coach Sonny Cumbie’s defense allowed just four passing yards in its win over FIU, the lowest total by a Tech opponent since 1981 (West Texas State 0 passing yards).
Not only will Tech be looking to move to 2-0 on the young season, but the Bulldogs look to snap a 14-game road losing streak that dates back to a win over North Texas in 2020.
Both teams have a bit of an advantage. Tech has a game under its belts while SMU has footage of the Bulldogs to use in scouting purposes.
“I think its an advantage both ways,” said Cumbie. “They have a game that they can sit and watch and compare what we did last year with this year. FIU was a game that we had to do everything to try to win. We weren’t holding anything back. From that standpoint, SMU has an idea of what we want to do.
“Our players have an advantage of having a game under their belt, a close game in particular. A game we had to make plays late to win. I think that helps us. So I think at the end it kind of evens itself out.”
SMU (0-0) will provide a much tougher challenge for the Tech defense with the Mustangs up-tempo offense under head coach Rhett Lashlee. SMU is coming off a 7-6 season in which it fell 24-23 to BYU in its bowl game.
The Mustangs did lose starting quarterback Tanner Mordecai who departed for Wisconsin. Sophomore Preston Stone will get the nod under center after passing for 412 yards and two TDs in limited action behind Mordecai last season.
“(Stone) is a highly talented kid,” said Cumbie. “One of the top recruited kids out of the state of Texas (when he came out of high school). He is extremely accurate and moves around pretty well. I think he is extremely competitive. He is a really good player and has great arm talent.”
SMU overhauled its defense this off-season with six of the Mustangs’ transfer additions currently atop of their depth chart. Transfers Kobe Wilson (MLB, Temple), Ahmad Walker (LB, Liberty) and Charles Woods (DB, West Virginia) are all expected to be impact starters.
The Bulldogs offense used the Hank Bachmeier to Smoke Harris connection in the win over FIU with the tandem hooking up 11 times for 155 yards and a score through the air. Bachmeier passed for 333 yards on 34 completions in his Tech debut after transferring over from Boise State.
“It’s going to come down to execution,” said Cumbie. “It’s going to come down to us taking care of the football. We have to finish our drives with touchdowns. They are really good on offense. They have a lot of elite skill position players so we have to be able to eliminate their explosive plays.”