Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
By Grant Chachere
Head Coach: Sonny Cumbie (2nd Season)
Offensive Coordinator: Jake Brown, Scott Parr (Both in their 2nd Season)
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Power (2nd Season)
2022 Record: 3-9 (2-6 Conference)
Level/Conference: Division I (FBS)/ Conference USA
Louisiana Tech head coach and former Mike Leach disciple Sonny Cumbie enters his second year as the head coach of the Bulldogs. After a 3-9 season, Cumbie and his staff hit the transfer portal hard as they had to pick up over a dozen transfers to its defense. However, they had to hit the transfer portal to strengthen a defense that was 125th nationally and was the downfall of the team last season. The good news is that Louisiana Tech’s Air Raid offense is good enough to win games as they have the skill and talent to do so. With Conference USA becoming more and more depleted by the day and the large amount of transfers, the Bulldogs have a good chance to improve from last year’s performance. However, they need their defense to step up.
Louisiana Tech didn’t make many moves with the portal on the offensive side of the ball but they landed a gem in Hank Bachmeier (6-1, 221, R-Sr.). Bachmeier will bring valuable experience to this team as he was a four-year starter at Boise State where he threw for 6,605 yards with 41 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 61.5% of his passes. However, Bachmeier’s main issue has been staying healthy as he has missed a good bit of games due to injuries.
Louisiana Tech will bring back its top two rushers in All-Conference candidate Marquise Crosby (5-10, 201, R-So.) and Charvis Thornton (5-10, 202, R-So.). Crosby averaged 5.0 yards per carry with 918 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Thornton rushed for 464 yards on 80 carries (5.8 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
The Bulldogs also picked up running back Tyre Shelton (5-11, 190, R-Jr.) through the transfer portal. Shelton rushed 85 times for 321 yards with three touchdowns and maybe the fastest running back in the room.
Louisiana Tech also retains two out of its three leading receivers from last year in Smoke Harris (5-7, 183, R-Sr.) and Cyrus Allen (6-0, 177, So.). Harris, who may be Louisiana Tech’s most dangerous offensive weapon, had 66 receptions for 640 yards with five touchdowns. Allen averaged a whopping 22.7 yards per catch with 500 yards and four touchdowns on just 22 receptions.
The Bulldogs also return three of its starting offensive line from last year in left tackle Dakota White (6-4, 313, Jr.), left guard Bert Hale (6-5, 331, Jr.) and right tackle Carson Bruno (6-4, 312, R-So.). They also return 2021 starting center Abraham Delfin (6-1, 310, Gr.) who missed all of last season due to injury.
The Bulldogs’ defense was atrocious last season as its overall defense allowed 468.8 yards per game which was 125th out of 131 teams. The Bulldogs were also third to last in rush defense as it allowed 243.2 rushing yards per game.
To combat this, the Bulldogs brought in linebacker Brevin Randle (6-0, 232, R-Sr.) from Stephen F. Austin, which is where second-year defensive coordinator Scott Power last coached. Randle had 161 total tackles, 5.0 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble throughout his career.
Joining Randle at the linebacker position is Hugh Davis, who was Louisiana Tech’s leading tackler in 2022 with 76 tackles. The Bulldogs also have Akron transfer Jeslord Boateng (6-2, 228, R-Sr.) coming in as well. Boateng recorded 107 tackles and eight tackles for a loss in the last two seasons while at Akron. Before missing most of the 2022 season due to injury, Boateng led the Zips in tackles with 80 in 2021.
The Bulldogs lost three of their four starting defensive linemen from the year before, but they do return defensive tackle Deshon Hall Jr. (6-3, 264, Sr.). Hall had 29 tackles (four tackles for loss) and two pass breakups. The defensive line will be key if the defense wants to improve because it needs to cause more havoc in the backfield as Louisiana Tech only had 16 sacks in 2022.
If there was one bright spot on this defense, it’s the secondary. The secondary returns stalwarts cornerback Willie Roberts (5-11, 190, Sr.) and free safety Cecil Singleton, Jr. (6-2, 210, R-Sr.). Roberts had four interceptions (one for a pick-six) with six pass breakups. Singleton is second among returning leading tacklers with 56 (four tackles for loss) last season. Singleton also recorded two sacks, five pass breakups and one interception last season as well.
The defensive backfield also added a talented safety in Stephen F. Austin transfer Myles Heard (5-11, 201, R-Sr.). Like Randle and Roberts, Heard played at Stephen F. Austin under Power when he was the defensive coordinator for the Lumberjacks. In 11 appearances for the Lumberjacks, Heard recorded 83 total tackles including a tackle for loss and an interception in 2022. In 2021, Heard led the team in solo tackles (41), total tackles (69), and forced fumbles (4). He also had two fumble recoveries, three pass breakups and two quarterback hurries on the season.
The Bulldogs will return starting kicker Jacob Barnes (5-9, 183, R-Jr.). Barnes made out of 18 field goal attempts and 38 out of 39 extra point attempts.
After last year’s starting punter Austin McCready left Ruston to enter the transfer portal, punter Patrick Rea (6-3, 180) is likely the replacement. Rea is a native of Melbourne, Australia.
Smoke Harris will handle the returning duties and is an All-Conference caliber return specialist.
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