Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Louisiana Tech: Strengths and Weaknesses

Sir Wesley Willis has some more in-depth Poinsettia Bowl preview stuff coming later in the week, but for now let's just look at Louisiana Tech's team strengths and weaknesses and how those play into TCU's own strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths:

-Punting. Bulldog punter Ryan Allen was just named the 2011 winner of the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation's best punter. He averages 46.3 yards per attempt, and nearly 50% of his punts result in the opponent starting inside their own 20. His efforts have helped La Tech rank #8 in the country in net punting. The Frogs haven't really had a full-time punt returner this year, so it'll be interesting to see how they play it when they are hopefully fielding a lot of punts next Wednesday.

-Turnover margin. Time after time, you'll see a common trait amongst quality football teams: a positive turnover ratio. The Bulldogs, at +11, rank 11th in the country in this category. By comparison, your Frogs rank 42nd. Something to keep an eye on.

-Pressuring the QB. Led by senior Christian Lacey's 8.5, the Bulldogs recorded 32 sacks during the regular season- good for 17th in the country. They'll have their work cut out for them against the TCU offensive line, though- the Frogs allowed just 13 sacks all year.

-Rushing defense. Louisiana Tech allowed just 122 yards on the ground per game, which ranks them 25th in the country. They did allow 253 against Nevada, though, so perhaps the 20th-ranked TCU run game (210 yards per game) can gain some momentum on the ground.

-Punt returns. Led by juniors Andrew Guillot (12.3 per return) and Craig Johnson (and 82-yard TD on his only attempt), the Bulldogs are 28th in the nation in punt return yardage. That's not good news considering the Frogs are 107th in the nation in net punting...meaning the Horned Frog punt coverage team will need to step it up to avoid letting Louisiana Tech gain momentum on special teams.


Weaknesses:

-Pass defense. I know we've all complained at times about the Frogs' ability to defend the pass, but consider that the Bulldogs give up an average of 32 more yards per game through the air than does TCU. The Frogs will likely always be a run-first team under Patterson, but perhaps the playbook is opened up a little bit to strike deep the way it was against Boise?

-Rushing offense. At just 150 yards per contest, the Bulldog ground game ranks 70th in the country. That's not good news against a TCU defense that has long been known for stuffing the run and currently ranks 29th in the nation in that category (126 yards per game). Watch out for tailback Lennon Creer, though. The transfer from Tennessee, who was heavily recruited by TCU out of Tatum HS in East Texas, is coming off an injury and can really turn it on when he gets going.

-Protecting the QB. Just as their own D-Line has had success reaching the QB, so have their opponents. The Bulldog O-Line gave up 24 sacks this season- an average of two per game. Hoepfully this provides an opportunity for the Frogs' sometimes-anemic pass rush to step it up in the last game of the season.

He's really doing it

All along, I have to admit that I thought it was a joke. But seeing as the way politics are going these days, maybe I shouldn't really be all that surprised. Former SMU employee/hooker murderer and current ESPN blowhard Craig James is running for senate. Holy shit I cannot wait for his first campaign appearance in the Metroplex.