college football picks Louisiana Tech at Texas A&M 9-11-10

September 10, 2010

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DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 11th, 7:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Kyle Field (83,002) — College Station, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: LaTech 0-0, Texas A&M 1-0. Away Record: LaTech 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Neutral Record: LaTech 1-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Conference Record: LaTech 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Series Record: Texas A&M leads, 9-0.

GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs shoot for their first-ever win against the Texas A&M Aggies this weekend when the two programs meet in non-conference action at Kyle Field in College Station.

Under the direction of new head coach Sonny Dykes, the Bulldogs got off on the right foot in the season opener last Saturday by putting up a 20-6 win over Grambling State in Shreveport. The victory was the second in a row for a LaTech program that finished 2009 with a 4-8 mark and was just 3-5 versus the rest of the Western Athletic Conference before head coach Derek Dooley took the job at Tennessee and replaced the departed Lane Kiffin. The Bulldogs used a 55-20 rout of San Jose State in the 2009 season finale to snap what had become a five-game slide.

As for the Aggies, they too took on a challenger from outside the Football Bowl Subdivision and in their case mauled Stephen F. Austin by a final of 48-7 at home on Saturday night. The victory snapped a two-game slide for the Aggies, who lost their last two games of 2009 to Texas and Georgia.

As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Bulldogs have yet to break through against A&M, losing all nine previous encounters. The most recent of those meetings took place in 2006 when the Aggies locked up a 45-14 win in College Station.

While it may not have been an overwhelming win for the Bulldogs against Grambling State, coach Dykes still maintained that any win is a good win in college football these days. Myke Compton scored the first points of the season for LaTech on a one-yard TD run and ended up with a pair of rushing scores for the program to go along with his mere 10 yards on four carries. Lennon Creer led the ground game with 69 yards on 17 attempts, while quarterback Ross Jenkins and Colby Cameron combined to hit 23-of-31 passes for 196 yards, the former surviving a pair of sacks. Jenkins, who made his 21st straight start at quarterback for the Bulldogs, had a very strong year for the team in 2009 as he threw for close to 2,100 yards and 17 touchdowns, against just five interceptions. One of the Bulldogs who was not used to the fullest potential in the opener was Phillip Livas, one of the most dangerous players in the WAC when he has his hands on the ball. Livas ran three times for 30 yards and caught just a single pass for four yards. If he is to be any factor and the Bulldogs a real threat to opponents, Livas has to be involved much more in the offensive schemes and on kick returns when possible.

The Louisiana Tech defense allowed just 15 completed passes and picked off a pair of attempts, while the group as a whole tallied three sacks in the win over the Tigers. After allowing Grambling to put together an eight-play, 58- yard drive in the first quarter that resulted in a field goal, the defense for the Bulldogs clamped down and didn’t allow a drive of that length the rest of the game and surrendered just one more field goal. Matt Broha made his presence felt with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. The sacks are nothing new for Broha who led the team in that category last season, the team placing second in the WAC and 68th nationally with 1.83 sacks per outing. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs pretty much limited themselves to sacks when it came to significant plays behind the line of scrimmage because the squad was seventh in the league and 111th in the country in terms of tackles for loss with just 4.3 per game in 2009.

Beating up on Stephen F. Austin was almost an embarrassment for the Aggies as they generated 539 yards of total offense, which 236 of those yards coming on the ground on one pounding run after another. Christine Michael tallied 105 yards rushing, while Jerrod Johnson hit 23-of-35 passes for 278 yards and a couple of scores. Johnson, who set eight school records during the 2009 campaign, also contributed with a rushing touchdown of his own as well. Last season the Aggies had one of the more active offenses in the country, averaging a whopping 465.8 ypg to rank not only second in the Big 12 Conference, but also fifth in the nation and at times that made the group look rather menacing. Johnson was third in the country in total offense having gained more than 500 yards rushing and another 3,579 yards through the air. A threat to take off and run when the opportunity presents itself, Johnson scored eight times on the ground and logged at least 400 yards of total offense four different times for the program a year ago.

Not to be forgotten in the lopsided win over the Lumberjacks, the defense for Texas A&M held the visitors to just 31 yards rushing and watched as four different players attempted a pass for SFA. The ‘Jacks controlled the ball for less than 23 minutes, under 10 in the second half, and converted only 3-of-15 on third down in the meeting. Garrick Williams stepped up with a team-best seven tackles for A&M, while Dustin Harris intercepted a pass in the middle of the second quarter and returned it 38 yards for a score to put the unit on the map as well. As powerful as the offense was for the Aggies last year, the team had its troubles trying to stop opponents by on the ground and through the air. Foes were credited with more than 170 ypg on the ground, ranking that aspect of the defense 11th in the conference and 90th in the nation. The secondary was touched for 254.7 ypg, worst in the league and 106th in the country, but at least the unit managed to make some significant plays behind the line of scrimmage with 2.7 sacks per game.

Unless Livas gets hits hands on the ball early and often, the Bulldogs are in for a long game versus A&M this weekend. Trying to stop Johnson will be a trial for LaTech, but hopefully the score won’t be as lopsided as it was in the opener versus SFA.


FREE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS : Texas A&M 31, Louisiana Tech 13

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