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October 18, 2012
Last Saturday night marked the biggest game for Louisiana Tech in school history. Those who tuned in or were present in Shreveport, witnessed one of the greatest games ever end in a loss. The Bulldogs battled back from 27 points down, and eventually fell short 57-59 to Texas A&M. Despite the game ending at almost 1 AM central time, the outcome was not determined until only 38 seconds remained in regulation.
The Bulldogs must now turn their attentions to fellow WAC conference member Idaho (1-6). It is very common for teams to lose focus on lesser opponents after big games. LA Tech must prepare the same way they have all season, to avoid an upset loss to a desperate Vandals football team.
Know your Opponent
The Vandals are one of the worst teams in the FBS, polling in the triple digits in a multitude of national rankings. They also rank no higher than third in 17 major categories, in a depleted WAC conference. The Vandals are led by junior signal caller Dominique Blackman, who is capable of being very effective if given time. Blackman has a very quick release, to go along with a rocket left arm.
The passing attack features a trio of primary targets in juniors Najee Lovet, Jahrie Level and senior Mike Scott. The trio accounts for over 90 percent of yardage; however, they have only six touchdowns between them thus far.
The rushing attack is led by work-horse Ryan Bass, and is complemented by James Baker, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior. The duo has not done well, ranking 115th in the country in rushing offense. They churn in only 86 yards per game and have managed just one touchdown on the year.
The Vandals' defense is giving up 461 yards per game, including 273 yards through the air. They are not much better on the ground, surrendering 187 yards per game.
Salute General Patton
The country may have not been familiar with LA Tech prior to Saturday night, but they now know standout senior receiver Quinton Patton. Patton turned in one of the most memorable single game performances in school history. The Aggies could do little to slow down Patton, who got things going mid-way through the second quarter. Patton recorded 21 catches, the most since Troy Edwards starred for the Bulldogs in the late 90's. Patton did it all for the Bulldogs, responding every time they needed a big play. He finished his career night with 21 catches for 233 yards and four touchdowns.
The numbers put up by Patton have firmly supplanted him in the race for the Biletnikoff award, which honors the nation's top wide receiver. He performed on an all-American level, against an SEC defense on the national stage. The Bulldog offense will face very mediocre pass defenses on the remaining schedule, including the Vandals' 102nd ranked pass defense. Expect Patton to continue his dominance on the perimeter Saturday night in Ruston, La. Patton currently sits fifth in receiving yards per game, but look for those numbers to receive a lift after this weekend. Barring an injury, expect Patton to bring the Biletnikoff back home to Ruston for the time since 1998.
The Bulldogs will continue to display a very potent offensive attack. The balance between hard nose running, and big play pass catching has produces great results. Expect the Bulldogs to tighten down defensively, and attempt to gain an identity as a whole. Big plays on defense are rare for the Bulldogs; furthermore, they must show more consistency, to be considered worthy of being dependable.
The chance at a BCS appearance all but vanished with the loss to the Aggies. There is still more to play for this season. LA Tech is on track to finish the year ranked and with their best record in over a decade. There is still a chance for an at-large bowl bid not linked to the WAC. The Bulldogs have multiple goals, which are still attainable, including winning the WAC for a second straight year.