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March 23, 2013

Tech completes fifth practice and defense improves

RUSTON - Louisiana Tech's mostly young and inexperienced defense, anchored by a veteran defensive line, began to show marked signs of improvement as the Bulldogs practiced for two hours in shells at Joe Aillet Stadium Friday afternoon.

The offense and defense battled back and forth in the pass skell periods with Kentrell Brice repeatedly knocking down passes and making plays. Brice leads a young secondary trying to improve on the 2012 season.

[Related: Spring Practice No. 5 Notebook]

"You are talking about a lot of youth in that secondary and a lot of inexperience in that secondary," said head coach Skip Holtz. "That is one place you don't want to be young and you don't want to be inexperienced. But the third thing you are looking for more than that is you don't want to be not athletic. When you look at Kentrell Brice, [Bryson] Abraham and some of the other guys that are back there, we have a lot of athleticism in that secondary. They are just young and inexperienced."

Brice seemed to thwart several potential good plays in pass skelly as he continues to develop in the secondary.

"He [Brice] is doing a really nice job and picking a lot up, throwing all the different coverages and the new terminology and everything else at him. Every rep that we can get in pass skell and everything else is just going to get us better I think he [Brice] is doing a nice job of picking it up. He is one of the better athletes. He has played and has a little game experience so he is going to be relied on as one of the more experienced guys back there and he is just a sophomore right now. But he has a really bright future and I am excited he is home and it is nice to have that hometown product from Ruston right here at Louisiana Tech."

[Related: Tech offers DFW LB]

The young secondary and linebackers will be forced to grow up quickly, leaning on a veteran defensive line to guide them.

"We have four seniors up front and there is no doubt that is the leadership of our defense right now," Holtz said. "When you get out there and look at guys that have been here for a long time and have played a lot of football. I think they understand it, they have the commitment and they are setting the tone right now."

"It is the same thing at linebacker [like the secondary]," continued Holtz. "We don't have a lot of experience when you look at guys like [Mike] Schrang and Beau Fitte and ht etwo new junior college linebackers. Wiggins has a back spasm right now and his reps have been limited. But when you look at the inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary, we are definitely going to lean heavily on our defensive line and not just in what they do but rely on them for a leadership role. They are going to have to provide a lot of leadership. We may have to take the Tonka Trucks away from our linebackers and our secondary to get them to play [football] with our defensive line."

The team has a short turnaround before hitting the field again as Tech will practice Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in what is expected to be a physical practice in full pads.

"The challenge is making sure we get enough food in them, we hydrate and we get enough sleep," explained Holtz. "What you worry about more than anything with a quick turnaround is injury. That is why we held back a little bit today, because we will get pretty physical tomorrow. It will be a physical practice tomorrow with a lot of good against good, going against each other. The biggest thing I want to get out of this short break is rest and get some food back into them so they can have some energy for tomorrow's practice."

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