The consensus opinion from preseason prognosticators is Louisiana Tech will run away with the Western Athletic Conference Championship. I will take a look at Tech's schedule game by game and tell my prediction.
Tech's out of conference schedule is one the most manageable it has seen in many years. Opening the season in Shreveport's Independence Stadium with Texas A&M will be a good test out of the gate to see how good this team really is.
Texas A&M will be in its inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference and the inaugural season of head coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin was hired away from the University of Houston in the offseason to replace Mike Sherman. Sumlin escaped Ruston with a victory last season in Ruston by the skin of his teeth after Case Keenum orchestrated a 21-point fourth quarter to beat Tech 35-34.
The strength of the A&M offense lies in trenches. With seniors at arguably the most important offensive line positions - left and right tackle and center - this has much to do with the dominance of this group. Tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews have big-time NFL abilities. During the Spring, quarterback Jameill Showers edged out freshman Johnny Manziel. Manziel was arrested this summer for fighting at a bar in College Station. It is likely Showers will get the start against Tech. With Sumlin putting in a brand new offense much like Tech's, the Aggies could see difficulty "clicking" early on.
Defensively, A&M will be without Steven Jenkins and Howard Matthews for the game against Tech after being suspended by Sumlin for violoating team policy. This could be a huge loss for the Aggies as Jenkins, a junior, appears in 13 games with 6 starts while having 61 tackles including three for losses, and Matthews, a sophomore, who also appears in 13 games and had two starts finishing with 28 tackles with three for losses and a forced fumble. A young cornerback corps will be depedned on early to improve a pass defense that gave up 276.3 passing yards per game a season ago. The defensive line for the Aggies will be searching for playmakers outside of end Damontre Moore. The linebacking corps is likely to be the most talented group on the defensive side of the ball with Sean Porter at outside linebacker and Jonathan Stewart in the middle.
The Aggies specialists will both be brand new. The strength of the Aggies' special teams is returner Dustin Harris, who led the nation by averaging 18.6 yards per punt return a season ago.
As I stated earlier, this game will be a good measuring stick for the Bulldogs right out of the gate. I see Tech taking this game in a close one to get off to a fast start because of the Aggies weaknesses on defense and the brand new offense Sumlin will be instituting.
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