Bulldogs Return Home With More Questions

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The Louisiana Tech offense sure isn't getting off to the start some fans expected under new head coach Sonny Dykes.

And its start Saturday in a 48-16 loss at Texas A&M was particularly bad.

With sophomore quarterback Colby Cameron getting his first career start in a hostile environment, the Bulldogs' first four offensive possessions combined for 17 plays, 51 yards, two fumbles on snaps (both recovered by Louisiana Tech), two interceptions and two punts.

While Dykes acknowledged the crowd in College Station was a big part of his team's early problems, he also said there were no excuses for the way his team executed.

"The crowd was a factor a little bit early," Dykes said. "When you come here and play there's a little bit of an adjustment period to the crowd noise. Good teams don't let it affect them, and we've got to be able to work through it."

Dykes' offense is supposed to be a fast-paced, high-powered and high-scoring display of pass-happy football.

Through two games, one of those being against FCS foe Grambling State, the Bulldogs (1-1) are averaging just 303 yards total offense (101 rushing, 202 passing) and 18 points per game. In 2009 under run-first head coach Derek Dooley, the Bulldogs averaged 372 yards total offense (184 rushing, 188 passing) and 29.2 points per game.

What may be most troubling for the Bulldogs is that the offense Dykes runs is only at its best when there is consistency at quarterback, which isn't the case right now for the Bulldogs.

So far this year, three players have taken snaps at quarterback, and none of those happen to be Steven Ensminger, who was named the team's starter after one week of camp in August but later fell ill with a stomach virus. Ensminger has yet to earn his way back at quarterback, but is playing some receiver.

"We need to get that position settled," Dykes said. "Just settle on a guy and find somebody to lead the team and build some confidence. What's hurting us right now is we're just not doing a very good job executing on a consistent basis."

NOTES, QUOTES --Louisiana Tech didn't handle the Texas A&M "12th man" very well Saturday. There was an announced crowd of 77,579 fans at Kyle Field and it was as rowdy as anything the Bulldogs will see this season.

"We just made a lot of mistakes, too many mistakes," Bulldogs head coach Sonny Dykes said. "This is a tough atmosphere to play in. It is loud and we had some guys who didn't handle the crowd especially well early in the game." Fortunately for the Bulldogs, the schedule shows only one more road game this season that will put them in a hostile environment -- Oct. 26 at Boise State.

WAC road games at Hawaii, New Mexico State and San Jose State aren't exactly the types of home crowds known for intimidating opposing players. --All four QBs listed on the Louisiana Tech roster who made the trip Saturday to College Station played in the first quarter.

Sophomores Colby Cameron, the game's starter, and Tarik Hakmi both took snaps at quarterback while senior Steven Ensminger played wide receiver and senior Ross Jenkins was the holder on K Matt Nelson's 37-yard field goal.

The fact that the quarterback battle, at least Saturday at Texas A&M, appears to no longer include the two seniors might be surprising to some.

Ensminger, after all, was named the team's starter after just one week of training camp in August, but is now playing wide receiver. Jenkins, who until Saturday started 21-consecutive games for Louisiana Tech, has the most experience of the bunch and seemed to be the likely choice just a week ago entering the season opener against Grambling State.

Dykes said after the Texas A&M loss that settling on a QB is a top priority. "We need to get that position settled," he said.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Tarik Hakmi -- The sophomore QB completed 6 of 8 passes for 93 yards and a 35-yard touchdown pass to Eric Harper. He also accounted for La Tech's other touchdown, a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter that cut the Texas A&M lead to 14-10. After it appeared Louisiana Tech might have settled its QB controversy last Thursday when sophomore Colby Cameron was named the starter, it now appears Hakmi has played himself into the mix.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Matt Broha -- The junior has 3.5 sacks through two games and is the only consistent pass rusher so far for Louisiana Tech. Broha led the Bulldogs in sacks in 2009 with 4.0. It will be interesting to see how Broha handles the increased attention he will start receiving from opposing offensive lines.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's the thing we're not doing right now. We're not making plays." -- Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes after Saturday's loss to Texas A&M.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL LOOKING GOOD: When you surrender 48 points and 565 yards total offense, it's hard to find much to praise on defense, but DE Matt Broha was effectively creating pressure in the backfield for the second straight week. Broha followed his two-sack performance in last week's season-opening win over Grambling State with 1.5 sacks Saturday against Texas A&M and now has 3.5 on the season. WR Phillip Livas, who head coach Sonny Dykes said he wants to get more touches, was good in the return game with seven kick returns and a 26.6 yards per return average. Sophomore P Ryan Allen's eight punts for a 41.9 average was good to see for Louisiana Tech coaches. He dropped three of those inside the 20-yard line.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Louisiana Tech is a passing offense, but that doesn't mean it doesn't try to run the ball some. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they just don't appear to be very good at it. Against Texas A&M on Saturday, the Bulldogs ran the ball 40 times for 61 yards. That's a minuscule average of 1.5 yards per carry. The team was led by RB Lennon Creer's seven carries for 41 yards and QB Colby Cameron's 14 carries for 21 yards. The secondary surrendered 349 passing yards and four passing touchdowns to Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson.

ROSTER REPORT: --Sophomore QB Colby Cameron started Saturday against Texas A&M, snapping a streak of 21 consecutive starts by senior QB Ross Jenkins. Cameron was far from spectacular against the Aggies, and head coach Sonny Dykes said after the loss in College Station that settling on a quarterback is a priority. He did not, however, say whether that means he's sticking with Cameron, who completed 15 of 31 passes for 115 yards, no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He was also sacked three times, but he was the team's second-leading rusher with 21 yards.

--Junior college QB Tarik Hakmi saw his first playing time as a Bulldog and made the most of it, maybe even making a push to become the team's starter.

Hakmi, a sophomore who played last year at Foothill Community College in California, completed 6 of 8 passes for 93 yards and threw Louisiana Tech's only touchdown and added a rushing touchdown.

--WR Tim Molton, the LSU transfer who sat out the season opener while serving a suspension, had just three receptions for 36 yards in his Louisiana Tech debut.

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