Louisiana Tech head football coach Sonny Dykes interviewed several candidates before deciding on a familiar face to Tech fans for his choice of defensive coordinator, Tommy Spangler. Tech's defense saw significant improvement when former head football coach Derek Dooley hired Spangler. Although last season's record was not what Louisiana Tech was hoping for, the defense did improve in the national rankings. In 2008, the Louisiana Tech defense ranked 73rd in total defense, 52nd in scoring defense, 13th in rush defense, 19th in turnover margin, 113 in pass defense, and 81st in pass efficiency defense. In 2009, the defense ranked 60th in total defense, 81st in rush defense, 40th in pass defense, 19th in turnover margin again, 61st in scoring defense, and 40th in pass efficiency defense. Some areas in 2009 did not improve, rush defense and scoring defense. Areas that did improve in 2009 were, total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, and were the same from 2008 in turnover margin.
Under Dooley, the Tech defense seemed to have a "bend but don't break" philosophy. That should change this season under Dykes. Dykes said he wants an attacking offense and an attacking defense. With as many returning starters coming back on defense, especially in the secondary and at linebacker this should not be a problem for the Bulldogs.
Spangler will continue to coach the safeties while new coach Kevin Curtis will be coaching cornerbacks.
From LATechSports.com on Curtis:
Curtis was a two-time All-American and three-time All-Big 12 safety at Texas Tech, playing for the Red Raiders when Dykes was on the Texas Tech staff. After a successful collegiate career, Curtis was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent three seasons. After one year with the Houston Texas, Curtis played two year as the team captain for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe before returning to the United States to coach.
"I am very pleased to bring Kevin Curtis on our staff," Dykes said. "I had an opportunity to work with and get to know him at Texas Tech where he was a great player. Kevin is an outstanding person whom I had the chance to see coach when I recruited the Navarro area and I knew it wouldn't be long before he was a highly sought-after coach on the Division I level. He is a great recruiter and will be a very strong, positive role model for our players."
At cornerback, Louisiana Tech returns Terry Carter, Olajuwon Paige, Josh Victorian, and new comer and junior college transfer Justin Goodman is on campus will be participating in spring practice. Carter brings elite speed to the Bulldog secondary. Victorian is great in short yardage situations but struggles at times with routes down field. Paige is a mix between both Carter and Victorian he doesn't shy away from contact and has a good nose for the football.
The safety position for most fans this year is a question mark. With the loss of Antonio Baker to graduation his run stopping and pass coverage abilities have to be filled. True Sophomore C.J. Broades filled in for Baker when he had a season ending injury to his lower leg. Broades displayed a big hit ability but often would lose a man over the top. It is possible Broades could move to linebacker. Even if that does not happen, look for Ruston native and true Sophomore Javontay Crowe to push for a starting spot in the defensive backfield. Senior Tank Calais will likely be one of the leaders of this defense in the fall and is one of the most versatile players on the defensive side of the football for the Bulldogs. Calais played mostly as a nickleback as a Sophomore before moving back to safety as a Junior when Deon Young was moved to cornerback. True Sophomore Chad Boyd will contribute greatly to the secondary for the Bulldogs, either as a safety, cornerback, or a nickleback and is probably one of the hardest hitters on the team.
Jeff Koonz will be coaching linebackers this season for Louisiana Tech. Koonz comes to Tech from the University of Texas where he served as defensive quality control assistant last season during the Longhorns run to the National Championship game. Previously, he served at Iowa State as the secondary coach under current Auburn head coach Gene Chizik.
Louisiana Tech returns all of it's starters at linebacker from this past season. At the strongside linebacker position expect Jay Dudley to see significant playing time or starting there in the fall. In the middle, Adrien Cole will be the starter again with Solomon Randle backing him up or possibly redshirt freshman Kendrick James. The weakside is where the questions lie, will it be redshirt freshman Rufus Porter, Kiamni Washington, or will C.J. Broades make the move to linebacker from safety. Dusty Rust is a player with a great work ethic and could push his way into the starting lineup at outside linebacker.
Coach Stan Eggen will make the transition from linebackers coach to defensive line coach where he coached while at Texas A&M. With the loss of D'Anthony Smith and Adrian Logan at defensive tackle there is a sizable question mark over the defensive line for Louisiana Tech. Redshirt freshman Justin Ellis could be the guy that opens the eyes of the coaching staff and fans this spring. Standing at 6'2" and weighing in at 350lbs, he is a wide body that could make an immediate impact at defensive tackle. Eggen says that Ellis needs to work on using his hands better and his pass rush but exhibits great burst off the ball. Mason Hitt returns for his senior season and will be the leader of the defensive line, and can be considered a shoe-in for a starting job in the fall. Ramone Randle is a player that has shown promise as a Bulldog but needs to take that next step to be dominant. Philip Longino has lost considerable weight since coming to Tech and needs to put some on to be able to play at this level. Shakeil Lucas signed with Tech to play defensive end but has put on some weight and will probably move to the inside of the line. Matt Broha saw significant playing time last season and could be the starter in the fall on the strong side. Randy Grigsby will be in a backup role more than likely next season. IK Enemkpali will move to defensive end this season and is a pass rushing extraordinaire with a very high motor, not to mention he could be on the all-name team by default. Christian Lacey returns after a not so stellar sophomore campaign. Lacey looks to build off what he did his freshman year. Junior college transfer defensive tackle, John White, sat out last season due to injury and will look to compete for a starting spot with the departure of Smith and Logan.