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Gridiron ‘Dogs back in action

April 19, 2018

 

ANDREW BELL

Sports Editor | agb022@latech.edu

 

Junior backup quarterback Westin Elliot (10) takes a shot during a rough spring outing, in which he threw two interceptions. – Photo by Donny Crowe

 

It may only be spring, but football is back in action as the white team took down the blue team in Louisiana Tech football’s annual Spring Game.

 

April 14 marked the end of the Bulldogs’ spring practices with a 16-6 white team victory over the blue team. The stakes for this matchup included the honor of washing cars for donations to a local charity for the losing team. So it looks like blue team members including junior starting quarterback J’mar Smith, sophomore cornerback Amik Robertson and junior running back Jaqwis Dancy will need to get their pressure washers and towels ready.

 

Surprisingly, it was Tech’s defense on both sides that stole the show in an encouraging five-sack, three-interception and seven-tackles-for-loss performance Saturday. The stinginess of the defense also resulted in a subpar performance from J’mar Smith, who completed a measly 13 of his 34 attempted passes for a completion percentage of 38 and threw no touchdowns.

 

Sixth year head coach Skip Holtz was not exactly pleased with his quarterback play but was encouraged by other facets of the team.

 

“I don’t think we executed very well in our passing game,” Holtz said. “I thought some of the running was hard nosed, but we had too many drops and too many deep ball opportunities missed. I think it was about three deep balls that we had the opportunity to catch and there’s 21 points. So I just don’t think we were as efficient in the passing game as we need to be.”

 

Most of the hard nosed running Holtz referred to came from Jaqwis Dancy, who made a great case to be Tech’s starting running back with a showout performance of 12 carries for 78 yards with a 6.5 yards per carry average. Dancy also caught two passes for 51 yards, including a 41-yard catch on a double pass play from sophomore receiver Adrian Hardy.

 

“Our thing with Jaqwis is just staying healthy,” Holtz said. “When you go back to last year and when he’s healthy and running, he brings an energy and a big play threat to our offense but we just have to make sure that we can keep him healthy. If we can keep him healthy I think he can have a real quality year for us.”

 

On the defensive side of the ball, one of Tech’s biggest focuses in the offseason and recruiting was improving the linebacking corps. After having to play many inexperienced players at the position last year, they will have a little more depth this year, with the addition of newcomers like Connor Taylor, a junior college transfer from Snow College in Utah and another JUCO transfer Brandon Floyd from Trinity Valley Community College to what they already have in junior Collin Scott and former walk-on senior Dae’Von Washington.

 

“Collin Scott is really doing a nice job,” Holtz said when asked if this was the best linebacking core he has had since coming to Tech. “Having Brandon Durman back after missing the first part of spring is nice and Connor Taylor has been a great addition. And Dae’Von Washington continues to play where he left off: he’s always around the ball and very active. Brian Gamble, our new linebackers coach, has really done a nice job of just teaching the fundamentals like stance, focus, eye discipline, and I think you’re seeing the results of their fundamental play.”

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