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October 25, 2012
Tech vs. NMSU: Style Points on Display?
Louisiana Tech (6-1) is coming off an ultra impressive 70- 28 win over WAC foe Idaho. The Bulldogs looked very sound a week after suffering a heart breaking loss to the Aggies of Texas A&M. The Bulldogs were surprisingly balanced in their efforts rushing for 408 yards, and passing for another 431. The Bulldogs fan base witnessed an epic performance by true freshman Kenneth Dixon. Dixon posted video game numbers while rushing for a season high 232 yards and six scores. La. Tech also stopped the bleeding on defense, holding the Vandals to a season best 305 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs must now turn their focus to fellow WAC member New Mexico State (1-6), who currently is searching for its first win against an FBS opponent.
KNOW YOUR OPPONENT
New Mexico State is led by former UCLA Bruin coach and defensive mastermind Dewayne Walker. Walker is entering into his fourth year as Aggies head coach, and endured a very rough year to say the least. The Aggies will not be able to become bowl eligible this year, and are still in search of it first conference win. The Aggies need a spark, and nothing would be more invigorating than to knock off the no. 24 ranked Bulldogs for homecoming at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies have struggled mightily this season, ranking near the bottom in total offense and defense. The offense is lead by 6-foot-3 sophomore Andrew Manley, who has no problem throwing the ball around the field. Manley ranks 24th in the nation in yards per game, and should not be underestimated from a play making stand point. The go to guy in the offense is fellow sophomore wide-receiver Austin Franklin. The 6-foot-2 Franklin leads the WAC in the receiving yards per game, which is good for third in the nation among wide-outs. It is no secret that Franklin is the primary target in the passing offense, as he trails only the Bulldogs' receiver Quinton Patton in receptions per game.
The defense has regressed this year, despite their head coach being one of the best defensive minds in college football. The Aggies give up 452 yards per game ranking them 100th in the nation in total defense. Their playmaker on defense is hard-hitting junior safety Davis Cazares. He is the team leader in the secondary; however, it is never a good sign when your safety leads your team in tackles. He is tied for 27th in the nation and also leads the WAC with 9.71 tackles per game. The Aggies will need a huge game from their defense as a whole if they hope to contain the Bulldogs high-flying offense on Saturday.
SELLING THE GOODS
The Bulldogs return to the top 25 this week, after showcasing their power last week in Ruston. The Bulldogs will look to continue dominance on the ground with running back Ray Holley and Kenneth Dixon. The bulldogs will once again have to flex their muscles against an apparent weak opponent if they hope to receive an upper-tier bowl bid.
During Monday's press conference Coach Sonny Dykes was asked his thoughts on having to sell the program. "I have always believed that if you keep on winning and keep playing well, people cannot help but take notice of your program." When asked about this offense being the best he ever coached Dykes said. "Usually you have an offense that is better at throwing or a little bit better at running, and this group is pretty good at doing both, so I think this is what makes this group unique maybe."
The strength of schedule has been a problem for the WAC when it comes to receiving better bids to bowls. The Bulldogs look pretty solid so long as they continue to win in convincing fashion. The next step in this process continues Saturday against the Aggies. Look for La. Tech to further improve upon last week's excellent performance.
IN GOOD HANDS
Although the match-up on paper appears to be lop-sided in the Bulldogs' favor, two of the WAC conference top pass-catchers are set to square off. The Bulldogs will roll into Las Cruces with their Biletnikoff candidate, Quinton Patton, looking to state his case as best wide-out in the country. Patton comes into Saturday's contest with 806 yards and 10 touchdowns, trailing only West Virginia's Stedman Bailey with 14 scores. The Aggies also have a Biletnikoff award candidate of their own in Austin Franklin. Franklin is 3rd on the award list, having hauled in 826 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. Both teams love to throw the ball around and spread the defense out. Look for each team to continue this trend, as neither defense has shown the ability to stop any passing team in the top 50. While Franklin and Patton are the well known names, do not be surprised to see their teammates make headlines as well. Both teams have talent outside their respective stars. The Aggies complement Franklin with explosive senior wide-out Kemonte Bateman. Bateman has recorded 33 catches for 426 yards and 2 scores thus far. A myriad of receivers for the Bulldogs have the ability to have a big day; however, all signs point to senior receiver Myles White to have another big game.