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March 12, 2012
The green grass is brightening and the azaleas are blooming, which can only mean the combination of two things: spring and football.
Head coach Sonny Dykes tweeted today, "We were good in 2011, but we want to be GREAT in 2012." This is sure to be the main theme for the Bulldogs this upcoming season, starting with the official start of spring football in just four days (early forecast predicts a picture-perfect day with partly cloudy skies and a high of 79).
After an extremely memorable 2011 season that included so many dramatic games, from the bad of blowing a 34-7 lead to Houston to the good of trouncing Ole Miss in Oxford 27-7 to the great of celebrating a WAC championship with a 44-0 route of New Mexico State, 2012 is expected to be a highly anticipated season with even greater expectations.
The offensive side of the ball will see very few changes. After taking over behind center midway through the season and leading the Bulldogs to the Poinsettia Bowl, redshirt senior Colby Cameron is sure to be the starting quarterback entering the spring practice sessions. It'll be interesting though to see how much original starter Nick Isham has improved in strength and whether he can take the job back he once won.
The position on offense though sure to garner the most attention this spring is left tackle. The question will be which of the offensive lineman will step up to take the place of Kris Cavitt in protecting the quarterbacks' blind side, possibly Larry Banks. But the biggest fireworks to look for will be DJ Banks taking over the slot for Taulib Ikharo, and the long-waited appearance of Tevin King at running back.
Most of the position battles to watch will be on the defensive side of the ball. From defensive end, to linebacker, to cornerback, each level suffered losses to key senior players and will need to be filled. Depth will need to be found at defensive end behind IK Enemkpali and Kendrick James. Two guys to watch will be Andre Taylor, who saw limited action this past year, and redshirt freshman Vontarrius Dora. Both are tall speed rushers that can maintain pressure on the QB, a key to this defense last year during their 7-0 winning streak.
The linebacking crew will have a complete overhaul with the losses to Jay Dudley, Dusty Rust, and WAC DPOY Adrien Cole. Redshirt senior Solomon Randle has plenty of experience at middle linebacker to replace Cole, but his speed has always been questioned. At the outside linebacker position Rufus Porter will look to slide in for Dudley, but there are many others like Chip Hester, Ty Hook, Warren Bates, Antonio Mitchum and Rufus Porter who'll be trying to impress the coaches.
The position on defense though sure to garner the most attention this spring is cornerback. The Bulldogs used primarily a 4-man rotation at corner, and 3 of those were lost to graduation in Terry Carter, DeMarcion Evans, and Justin Goodman. Dave Clark is the lone returnee, and young Bulldogs like Kendall Hayes, Brice Abraham, and Levander Liggins will use these 15 practices to separate themselves even more from the strong cornerback recruiting class coming in the fall.
The start of year three for this entire coaching staff begins in four days, the players should know what to expect and what the expectations are. This team will be strongly anchored by 30+ seniors looking to elevate the program to that GREAT status Coach Dykes and Bulldog nation is looking for.
Editorial note: Kane McGuire will be covering the first days of spring practice as Jonathan Ford will be out of town the first weekend.
Louisiana Tech NEWS