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When Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss meet September 3rd at 9:00pm one thing is almost certain, the final result will not be 13-12 like a year ago. Louisiana Tech was still working out its kinks in the newly installed Tony Franklin System and Southern Miss did not play real well.
Tech will be debuting a new quarterback, a true freshman (Nick Isham). Southern Miss brings its tried and true quarterback into the game (Austin Davis) along with its redshirt sophomore phenom running back (Kendrick Hardy) who did not play against Tech last season.
In other words, who knows what is going to happen in this game. There are lots of unknown factors especially for Tech.
These teams match-up extremely well with one another on paper and Vegas has put its betting line with Tech being a 13 point underdog. With all the unknowns, this seems to be a fair assessment.
SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES
LOUISIANA TECH BULLDOGS
Southern Miss has installed a new defensive set since the arrival of new defensive coordinator Dan Disch, the 4-2-5 from a traditional 4-3. The 4-2-5 is designed to stop the spread, but with this the first game in that scheme it is unknown how effective it will be.
Louisiana Tech true freshman Nick Isham will get the start for the Bulldogs. Isham is a cool customer in the pocket, makes quick decisions, and has grasped the offense quickly. Additionally, Tony Franklin has had success against USM in the past.
Southern Miss' linebacker Korey Williams harassed Tech last season with 8 total tackles and an interception for the eagles. He will be the leader amongst the 2 linebackers in the 4-2-5, but once again how effective will the new scheme be in its first game?
Louisiana Tech will more than likely lean on Lennon Creer as early and as often as they can if Isham gets the start at quarterback. Behind Creer is fellow senior Ray Holley who is a threat himself. Behind the seniors comes Lyle Fitte who is dangerous in the open field.
The Eagles' DL ranked tied for 54th in the nation with 2.08 sacks a game in 2010. They return their sack leader from a year ago in Cordarro Law but he only averaged approximately a half sack a game. In a 4-2-5 defense, a heavy pass rush is a necessity.
The Bulldogs ranked 29th in the country in sacks allowed last season. They replace their left tackle and right guard into a veteran group and are aided by an offense that prides itself on getting rid of the ball quickly. LT Kris Cavitt should be suitable replacement as should RG Vince Cano.
In Austin Davis' time at Southern Miss, he has seen significant playing time and is a seasoned veteran. During his 2 healthy seasons, Davis threw for over 3,100 yards and had more than a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
Tech gave up gobs of yards through the air last year. During fall camp, the secondary has shown the ability to make plays on the ball. Tech moved its most talented defensive back from cornerback to safety, Ryan Williams. Can Williams lock down the middle for the Bulldogs is the question.
Although Kendrick Hardy did not get any carries against Tech last season, much like Creer he came on late in the season and finished the year with 900 yards and a 6.5 yards a carry average. Desmond Johnson was kept at bay a year ago by the Bulldogs.
The strength of Tech's defense is its linebacking corps with seniors Jay Dudley, Adrien Cole and Dusty Rust. Their speed to the ball will help them against a talented backfield like the Eagles. Last season Tech gave up 192 yards but kept them under 4 yards per carry.
Southern Miss returns a veteran offensive line with senior LT Lamar Holmes a physically opposing 6-6 336lbs.
This unit suffered from a lack of depth at tackle last season and sured it up in the offseason through recruiting. The ends are talented with Matt Broha and IK Enemkpali and those two will be countd on to provide pressure on the quarterback.
The Bulldogs return both specialists in P Ryan Allen and K Matt Nelson. The return game was a strength for Tech last season with Phillip Livas. With a plethora of talented returnmen Tech could replace Livas without the Bulldogs ever skipping a beat.
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