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Tech defense gets back on track

October 6, 2016

Alex Heard

Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu

Running back Jarred Craft tries to break a tackle in Tech’s 28-7 win over the University of Texas - El Paso Miners. Craft finished the game with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Photo by Tom Morris.

Running back Jarred Craft tries to break a tackle in Tech’s 28-7 win over the University of Texas – El Paso Miners. Craft finished the game with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Photo by Tom Morris/LATechPix.com.

The defense of the Louisiana Tech football team may have finally been found.

 

Tech had given up 97 points in the last two games but against the University of Texas-El Paso the defense only managed to allow seven points.

 

Head Coach Skip Holtz said he was pleased the defense finally got it together.

 

“I thought they tackled really well in space for something that we really struggled with the last two weeks,” Holtz said. “I thought they did a great job. They did a couple things where we got out of some zones and gave up a couple bigger plays.”

 

UTEP came into the game as one of the best rushing teams in the Conference-USA. Yet, Tech played as if that did not matter.

 

Holtz said the way the defense dominated such a good rushing team was impressive.

 

“You know the tailback – Aaron Jones coming in here, that was rushing for 150 yards a game, averaging seven and a half yards carries, and that’s against some pretty good football teams, as well,” Holtz said. “And for our defense to hold them to 94 and four yards a carry, just really proud of them.”

 

There was so much skepticism over Ryan Higgins coming into the season. He had looked shaky in games in years past and was benched against Arkansas due to a DWI. However, Higgins has played lights out and has yet to throw an interception in 13 quarters of play.

 

Holtz said it is not only Higgins playing mistake-free, but the offense in entirety.

 

“Go back to the halftime of the South Carolina State game, we’ve only had one turnover now in really, I believe, three and a half football games,” Holtz said. “We’ve had one turnover. I’m proud of what the offense is doing. A big part of that is Jarred Craft, the way he’s protecting it. And Ryan is doing a really good job of not putting the ball in danger. And so we keep doing that, it will give us a chance, but that’s what good offenses and good football teams do. They don’t turn the ball over.”

 

It was thought that Tech would take a step back this season in the rushing department due to the departure of Kenneth Dixon, who is second all-time in touchdowns in NCAA history. Craft has come in and taken over, rushing for 554 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 110.2 yards a game.

 

Tech’s defense will have something to prove Thursday against Western Kentucky. They have not played a high-powered offense like the Hilltoppers since they were demolished by Texas Tech. Western Kentucky is averaging 464.6 yards a game and are giving up 360.6.

 

Holtz said he realizes how vulnerable Tech is to the big play.

 

“With how explosive they are with big plays, they have to be licking their chops,” Holtz said. “We are 121st in the country in giving up plays over 20 yards. I am sure they are pretty excited. I said we have some things to shore up in the passing game.”

 

Holtz said the offense must not miss a beat because Western Kentucky’s defense is underrated.

 

“On defense, that is where the biggest changes have been made,” Holtz said. “I have been really impressed by what they have done. They held Alabama to 120 yards rushing. They are really good inside. Defensively, that is where the biggest difference in this football team has been. They have a really strong defense and an incredibly explosive offense.”

 

Tech plays against Western Kentucky at 7 p.m. today in Joe Aillet Stadium.

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