Louisiana Tech has reached their midway point in the season, and it could not come at a better time. The Bulldogs, 3-3 (1-1), have dealt with a rash of injuries throughout the season to this point. All in all 16 ‘Dogs have missed time at numerous times through the first six games.
On the offensive side of the ball, the big story is the time the receivers have missed. Ever since hauling in a 53-yard grab against Northwestern State, reserve receiver Javonte Woodard has been out with injury. Zach Cousar, who had his first career touchdown catch against Mississippi State has also missed time due to injury. Starting slot receiver, Alfred Smith, has appeared in only two games. Senior receiver, Marcus Gaines, who has proved during his time at Tech that he can produce big plays, has missed a couple of games as well. After having a breakout performance against South Alabama, Adrian Hardy missed the UAB game with a hamstring injury. Perhaps the biggest injury Tech has been faced with is the injury of Rhashid Bonnette. Bonnette is the Bulldogs most explosive playmaker in the passing game. It has yet to be determined just how long Bonnette will be out, but the longer he is out, the more the ‘Dogs will miss him.
In the backfield, Jaqwis Dancy has missed three games. Dancy did return against UAB and showed how explosive he can be carrying the ball with five carries for 44 yards. If Dancy can remain healthy, his explosiveness can provide a spark out of the backfield.
Tech’s offensive line has been relatively healthy. Josh Outlaw missed the UAB game last week, but he is expected back against Southern Miss. The only other injury Tech has been faced with up front is with reserve guard Drew Kirkpatrick.
In order for the Tech offense to reach its maximum potential, Rhashid Bonnette in particular will have to return to give quarterback J’Mar Smith that true, deep threat down the field.
Defensively the Bulldogs have seen some crucial players go down at inopportune times. Secdrick Cooper missed the season opener, and then was injured late against South Carolina. If Cooper had been healthy, it could have helped lead to a Tech victory.
Other injuries in the Bulldogs secondary have come at cornerback. Ephraim Kitchen tore an acl in preseason camp, Mike Sam has been out since the Mississippi State game, and L’Jarius Sneed recently missed the UAB game. With that said, the Tech secondary has shown massive amounts of improvement from a year ago.
Reserve linebacker Reggie Cleveland has been out for the last five weeks.
Starting defensive end, Deldrick Canty, has been out the last two games against South Alabama and UAB. If he is unable to play going forward, this will be a big blow to the Tech defense as he is a key contributor for the Bulldog defensive line.
At full strength the Tech defense has shown the ability to carry the ‘Dogs.
All in all the 16 players have combined to miss a total of 42 games.
What does this mean for Skip Holtz’s Bulldogs going forward? Tech has to get healthy, particularly at the receiver position in order to make a run at a conference championship. Tech has the talent to win a championship, but all of the pieces have to come together and click on all cylinders, which is something Bulldog fans have yet to see to this point. With the bye week this Saturday, Tech has the opportunity to heal up some of their bumps and bruises.
Southern Miss will come to Joe Aillet Stadium for a huge division matchup on October 21st. If Tech can get healthy, they will have a great opportunity to right the ship and allow for this season to really take off.