Kansas’ last non-conference game of the season is this Saturday. Here are five things you should know about Louisiana Tech and what you should expect to see:
1. King is King
Tevin King is the leading running back for Louisiana Tech and he is a guy you have to look out for at all times. King averages exactly seven yards per carry and has nearly racked up 300 yards on the year. Additionally, he has six catches for 48 yards, already surpassing his total from last season. King has the potential to take it to the house on any play, which is quite surprising considering that he stands at a mere 5′ 7″, and weighs just 170 pounds.
What makes King such a dynamic athlete? For starters, he is one of the more elusive backs in college. King isn’t a guy that will overpower a defender but he attacks the defense with an array of juke and spin moves reminiscent of Dante Hall. The slippery Georgia native is nearly impossible to bring down from his legs and can accelerate to top speed in nearly no time. If Kansas is going to win, they will have to contain the dynamic speedster. However, King is not the only threat in the run game for Louisiana Tech…
2. ‘Spread (It Around) Offense’
Normally when you talk about a ‘spread offense,’ it is in the context of the positioning of each of the players. The Bulldogs run a different type of spread offense: a “Spread-It-Around Offense.”
Louisiana Tech doesn’t have a specific go-to-guy in the passing game; however, what they do have is a core of guys that are all capable of making big plays. Twelve different players have recorded at least two receptions for the Bulldogs and five of those receivers have caught five or more passes. It is hard to single out a specific receiver as that top guy because each brings a different skillset. Sterling Griffin is more of a possession receiver, leading the team in catches and yards, but he hasn’t recorded a touchdown or a catch for more than twenty yards. Hunter Lee, on the other hand, averages 20.5 yards per catch, but has only recorded four receptions. Oddly enough, the top two Bulldogs receivers in both the receptions and receiving yards categories have yet to record a touchdown catch.
Furthermore, Louisiana Tech has been just about as skilled as the Jayhawks this season when it comes to the run game. Tevin King has led the charge for the Bulldogs, but they have had two different players carry for over 150 yards and six different players rush for double-digit yards. While King will be the player on everyone’s mind, it will be important to keep in mind that Kenneth Dixon is no slouch of his own, averaging just over five yards per carry on 30 carries this year.
3. New coach, high expectations
Skip Holtz will be coaching in just his fourth game for the Bulldogs, but he is far from inexperienced. Holtz played college ball for Notre Dame, and has previously served as the head coach for Connecticut, East Carolina, and South Florida, and as the offensive coordinator for both Notre Dame and South Carolina. Holtz has been coaching for over a quarter of a century, and he has racked up a very respectable record of 89-73 as a head coach.
The Bulldogs have struggled so far this year, but Skip Holtz always has a few tricks up his sleeve, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Coaching runs in the family. Skip is the son of Lou Holtz, current ESPN personality and the former head coach of South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Arkansas. Lou has a fantastic career college coaching record of 249-132-7, which spanned over 44 years. While Skip isn’t close to the pace he’d have to be at to catch his father, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t a fine coach in his own right. One thing is for sure, however, Skip will certainly have the Bulldogs up for the game this Saturday.
4. Against Kansas: LA Tech wins when it shouldn’t
The brief history between KU and Louisiana Tech is quite baffling. Kansas has bested Louisiana Tech in two straight games, by a total score of 63-14. Interesting enough, both times Kansas won, Louisiana Tech ended up with a winning record. Additionally, Louisiana Tech has defeated the Jayhawks once, when the Bulldogs weren’t even in Divion 1. The two times the Jayhawks defeated the Bulldogs, the Jayhawks ended up with the same amount of wins as the Bulldogs, which is strange considering that the Jayhawks struggled to hang with Louisiana Tech when they weren’t playing at the same level.
Kansas will be out for blood, knowing that they could have won against Rice, and this is a game they know they must have if they are going to have a chance to get to three, four, or even five wins. However, this is a Louisiana Tech team that is desperate as well, and if history holds up, the Jayhawks could be in for a long day.
5. Kyle Fischer is no Chris Boswell
Last week the Jayhawks had to deal with Chris Boswell, a fantastic college kicker with a tremendous leg. Boswell made a 56-yarder against Kansas… something you shouldn’t expect from the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech’s Fischer has already missed two kicks, both shorter than 50 yards (and one shorter than 40 yards). His career long is a 49-yarder, but he lacks the accuracy to put the ball through the uprights from distance. Fisher is far from mediocre, but he is closer to the typical college kicker you see around non-powerhouse teams.
Additionally, Louisiana Tech’s punter is also quite average, but nothing more. Gerald Shouse, a sophomore out of Shreveport, Louisiana, averages a solid 41.3 yards per punt, and will play a key role in the game for both teams. As the Kansas City Chiefs saw over the weekend, when a punter is on (or for that matter, is off), he can really affect the game. Field position is going to be key if Louisiana Tech is going to pull off the upset. If Shouse isn’t on his game, the Jayhawks could put on an offensive clinic.
Overall, this is a game that the Jayhawks should win, and probably will. Regardless, this is a big game for most teams, and it will be the last non-conference home game for Kansas, which will carry important momentum going in to Big 12 play, especially if Kansas is going to defeat a conference foe.