Louisiana Tech vs SMU Preview

Lousiana Tech vs SMU

SMU has had a lot to deal with since their regular season has ended. The Mustangs are in the midst of preparing for their first bowl game since 2012, and — thanks to a change of head coaches since the end of the regular season — they have had more than just the normal game week load-in on their respective plates.

Sonny Dykes is the new head man of the Mustang program, accepting the position after Chad Morris left for SEC school Arkansas.

Dykes hasn’t had a lot of time to prepare, but he will be coaching the team in the bowl game.

In a twist of fate, Dykes is familiar with SMU’s opponent Louisiana Tech, as he coached that team from 2010-12 before spending four seasons at California in a run that ended in 2016. The Bulldogs replaced Dykes with Skip Hicks, who has led Louisiana Tech to its fourth straight bowl game after capturing victories in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, the 2015 New Orleans Bowl and the 2016 Armed Forces Bowl.

This will be the fifth ever meeting between the two schools with Louisiana Tech winning three times. The Bulldogs won the most recent meeting, a 41-10 decision over SMU in Dallas in 2010.

But this is a different SMU team.

The Mustangs finished the 2017 regular season 7-5 and are coming off a 41-38 victory over Tulane on Nov. 25 in their regular-season finale. The seven wins are the most for SMU since 2012 and the most in a regular season since 2011.

It’s the first appearance in the postseason for the Mustangs since the 2012 Hawai’i Bowl, where SMU defeated Fresno State 43-10, and the 16th overall bowl appearance for SMU football.

Dykes will be overhauling the offense in the offseason, to his Air Raid philosophies, but in the time he was hired to their bowl game tonight (nine days) it isn’t nearly enough time to adequately do that–so he will lean on his assistants specifically graduate assistant G.J. Kinne — to call the game and let his new team play to its considerable strengths.

“The focus here is on just having the opportunity to be around the players and have a chance to get to know them and have a chance for them to get to know me and start to build some trust with each other and that relationship,” Dykes said.

“In our business, that’s the most important thing. Going in, I don’t know if you would say it’s the best thing. But I think it’s going to end up being the best thing.”

SMU is one of only two teams in the country with a 3,000-yard passer (Ben Hicks), 1,000-yard rusher (Xavier Jones) and two 1,000 yard receivers (Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn). Quinn leads the nation in receptions per game at 8.8.

Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz said he and his coaching staff had no plans to watch any old Tech film from when Dykes roamed the sideline in Ruston, La., as the Bulldogs’ coach. He’s more centered on how his team responds to the challenges posed by SMU and how it handles the adversity it’s sure to face.

“You do the best job you can with your players,” Holtz said. “We’ve seen a lot of things thrown at us during the course of the year and this is when you have to rely on some of your upperclassmen to create the stabilizing force out on the field.

“If SMU does give us something different or hit a big play, you got to calm everybody down and get ready to go play the next play. That’s all you can do.”

Louisiana Tech (6-6) didn’t become bowl eligible until the regular-season finale versus Texas-San Antonio on Nov. 25. There were 81 teams eligible to earn a bowl game invitation, three more than the 78 total spots, and the Bulldogs ended up one of the fortunate 6-6 teams to be extended an invitation to the postseason.

Sophomore quarterback J’Mar Smith threw for 2,758 yards and 13 touchdowns, including five scores to Conference USA co-newcomer of the year Teddy Veal (69 catches, 832 yards).

Defensively, junior defensive end Jaylon Ferguson (26.5 career sacks) had a team-high six sacks while senior safety Secdrick Cooper had 63 stops and two interceptions. Freshman cornerback Amik Robertson led the team with four interceptions to go with 58 tackles and two sacks.

This bowl game won’t be much of a trip, distance-wise, for the teams’ fan bases, with Louisiana Tech located about four hours east of Frisco in Ruston, La., and the Mustangs’ leafy campus set just a half hour south of this north Dallas suburb.

NFL Draft Prospects

SMU WR Courtland Sutton—A big target at 6-foot-4, he caught 62 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season, having surpassed 100 yards six times.  (No.1 WR 8th overall on our Pre-Bowl Big Board)

Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson—The 6-foot-5, 269-pound junior has 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks to his credit this year.

Prediction

LINE: -4 SMU

Without enough time Sonny Dykes can only do so much for his team in this bowl game. His offensive philosophies will be saved for another day, but this Mustang team is still loaded with talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. No one of the Tech defense will be able to hang with Courtland Sutton and I expect him to put an exclamation point on his SMU career before he heads off to the NFL.

SMU 31 Louisiana Tech 21

https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/picmonkey-image8.jpg?fit=1000%2C600&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/picmonkey-image8.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Dan SchalkAmerican AthleticNCAAFRecent PostsCollege Football,Frisco Bowl,Louisiana Tech Bulldogs,Louisiana Tech vs SMU,SMU MustangsLouisiana Tech vs SMU Preview SMU has had a lot to deal with since their regular season has ended. The Mustangs are in the midst of preparing for their first bowl game since 2012, and -- thanks to a change of head coaches since the end of the regular season --...