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LA TECH GARNERS AWARDS AS BOWL APPROACHES

December 16, 2016
Bulldog Head Coach Skip Holtz was named C-USA Coach of the Year, as selected by a vote by the league’s 13 head coaches. – Photos courtesy of Tom Morris / LATech SportsPix.com

Bulldog Head Coach Skip Holtz was named C-USA Coach of the Year, as selected by a vote by the league’s 13 head coaches. – Photos courtesy of Tom Morris / LATech SportsPix.com

 

Alex Heard
Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu

 

This holiday season has been rather giving to the Louisiana Tech football team.

 

Not only did Tech capture its second Conference USA West Division title, the Bulldogs placed one player on the USA Today Sports Freshman All-American team, while 13 others were named to the All-Conference USA football team with seven being first team selections.

 

Those seven first-teamers consist of four offensive studs, two defensive players and one special teamer. 

 

Ethan Reed, a freshman guard, anchored Tech’s offensive line and became only the fourth Tech player to net All-America honors as a freshman in the program’s 114-year existence.

 

Carlos Henderson, a junior receiver, earned two spots — one as a wide receiver, where he amassed 1,406 yards and a league-high 17 touchdowns, and a second as kick returner, where he averaged 30.4 yards per return and broke away for two touchdowns. He is joined by Trent Taylor as a first-team receiver.

 

Taylor, a senior receiver, recently broke the single-season C-USA record with 124 catches. Taylor became only the fourth Tech player in school history to register two 1,000-yard seasons in a career. Taylor produced 1,570 yards and 10 touchdown receptions this season and holds the program record with 315 career receptions.

 

Ryan Higgins, a senior quarterback, was also named to the first team after throwing for 4,208 passing yards and 37 touchdowns on the season. Higgins leads the conference is passing yards, passing yards per game and passing touchdowns and is also the conference-leader and ranks third nationally in total offense, averaging 374.3 yards per game.

 

Senior quarterback Ryan Higgins was named to the C-USA first team after throwing for 4,208 passing yards and 37 touchdowns on the season.

Senior quarterback Ryan Higgins was named to the C-USA first team after throwing for 4,208 passing yards and 37 touchdowns on the season.

Darrell Brown, a senior offensive tackle, earned a spot on the first team after protecting Higgins’s blind side on Tech’s nationally-ranked offense.

 

On defense, Jaylon Ferguson and Xavier Woods were also named first team All-Conference selections.

 

Ferguson, a sophomore defensive end, ranks fourth in the nation and leads the conference in sacks with 14.5. Ferguson also forced four fumbles this season and recovered two.

 

Woods, a senior safety, accumulated a league-high five interceptions on the season, which ranked ninth nationally. He also totaled 81 tackles, 6.5 of them for loss, with three sacks on the season. In addition to his athletic accolades, Woods was also named to the 2016 C-USA All-Academic Team for the third consecutive season.

 

Furthermore, Tech placed four players on the second team: two offensive linemen, (senior Joseph Brunson and sophomore O’Shea Dugas), a defensive player (senior linebacker Jordan Harris) and a kicker (junior Jonathan Barnes). Barnes once again was a Lou Groza semifinalist for the best kicker in the nation.

 

Players were not the only ones to receive awards as Head Coach Skip Holtz was named C-USA Coach of the Year, as selected by a vote by the league’s 13 head coaches.

 

Under Holtz this season, Tech won seven straight games to win the C-USA’s west division and completed the season with a 6-2 record in conference play. Despite losing big-name stars from last season (such as Kenneth Dixon, Jeff Driskel and Vernon Butler) and returning nine starters on offense and defense, Tech’s offense did not miss a beat under Holtz. Tech leads Conference USA and ranks third nationally in passing offense (359.8 yards per game) and is second in the league in total offense (516.1 yards per game) and scoring offense (44.0).

 

Junior receiver Carlos Henderson earned a spot on both C-USA first and second teams.

Junior receiver Carlos Henderson earned a spot on both C-USA first and second teams.

The Louisiana Tech offense ranks fifth in the FBS in scoring and has scored 44 or more points in seven of its wins, including six straight at one point. Entering the bowl game, single-season school record for points scored, passing yards and total offense could all be broken.

 

Tech currently has an 8-5 record and is going bowling for a third consecutive year.

 

No – they are not throwing balls at pins, but instead are heading to the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to face No. 25 Navy.

 

Navy had signature wins this season against then unbeaten Houston (who was ranked No. 6 at the time) and Notre Dame, who they beat for only the fourth time in 53 years.

 

Navy’s triple-option offense gave opposing defenses’ fits as they averaged 327.5 rushing yards per game.

 

Tech’s run defense (134.4 yards per game which ranks 30th nationally) is significantly better than their pass defense (283.6 yards per game which ranks 121st nationally) and Navy seldomly throws so we shall see if Tech can slow down Navy’s ground attack.

 

However, Navy is averaging 39.1 points per game so a shootout may be in store.

 

Tech plays Navy at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas, on ESPN.

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