Defense dominates Bulldogs second scrimmage

[Information provided by: Louisiana Tech Athletics]

Louisiana Tech's defense showed its ability to make plays and prove that the group is improved from last season as it dominated in Tech's second spring scrimmage Saturday morning at Joe Aillet Stadium.

The team scrimmaged for just over two hours and ran around 150 plays in all.

Overall, the defense created 10 turnovers in 26 drives overall and had two touchdowns on the day with a pick-6 and a fumble returned for a touchdown. Overall, the offense scored 27 points to the defense's 14.

"Today was definitely full of emotion, much better than the last time we came out here on the field [for a scrimmage]," head coach Skip Holtz said after the scrimmage. "It was full of emotion and it was full of turnovers. There were a lot of plays that were made out there today as it was about a 150-play scrimmage. You get excited about some of the things our defense did but as soon as you get excited about the defense, you have to start looking at it and say 'That is our offense.' That is the hard part about spring ball, you are trying to evaluate if you are that good on defense or that poor on offense. It is encouraging to see the defense step up."

Defensive coordinator Kim Dameron's unit was especially strong to start with six turnovers in the first 11 series with another four series forcing the offense to turn the ball over on downs. Only once in the first 11 series of the scrimmage did the offense score and that came when a cornerback fell down covering Jaydrick DeClouette in the end zone as DeClouette hauled in the 15-yard pass from Ryan Higgins.

The first score by the defense came in the fifth series as Adairius Barnes intercepted Scotty Young and ran it back 40 yards for the score on a wrong route ran by the receiver.

Eight series later, Aaron Brown hit quarterback Zach Griffith and forced a fumble while Devon McKinney scooped up the recovery and ran it back seven yards for the touchdown.

The defense almost had another turnover towards the end of the scrimmage as Austin Ginn dropped a Paul Harris interception at the last second. On the next play, Brandon Davis ran the ball in from 15 yards out.

After DeClouette's touchdown, it took the offense seven more series to score and that came off a 50-yard field goal by walk-on kicker Kyle Fischer. The second offensive touchdown came in the final series before "halftime" as Paul Harris connected to Rickey Courtney for a 21-yard touchdown pass.

Midway through the "second half" T.J. Kijack hit a 26-yard field goal for the second of two field goals the offense scored. The drive, which started on the defense's 20-yard line, had the opportunity for another offensive touchdown but DeClouette slipped and fell in the end zone as Young's pass fell incomplete.

The first two series of the scrimmage ended in a fumble by Marlon Seets which was recovered by Le'Vander Liggins and Colby Brown intercepting a pass off of Young. Ryan Higgins was intercepted by Bryson Abraham in the 11th series and the quarterback also fumbled after being sacked by IK Enemkpali, which was recovered by Shakeil Lucas.

That sack was one of the few by the defense as Higgins and Young showcased their ability to escape the pocket when under pressure and evade the sack while making a play.

"I think that is one of the reasons we have taken the red jerseys off of them," explained Holtz. "Let's let them get out here and block. They are going to get hit in a game and they took some shots out here today. They took some shots and they have proven their toughness not only to me but to this football team. Every single day they stand back there and do the things they are doing but I am very encouraged by their mobility and their escape-ability with some of the plays they were making with their feet."

Saturday's scrimmage was the 11th session out of 15 allowed practices in the spring for Louisiana Tech. The team will practice again on Monday, April 8 at 4 p.m. on the Tech Practice Fields.