RUSTON -- The coaching staff continued to develop an already diverse offensive playbook Monday as Louisiana Tech practiced for two hours at the Tech practice fields following Sunday's day off.
After having gone 11 straight days of practicing, the team looked refreshed and sharp on the field in practice.
"I thought it was a good day," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "We came back out and you could tell we were a little fresher. I thought our pace of practice was better and I thought we had a good day. We were a little bit more spirited than we have been which was good. I think we needed a day off and it looks like most of our guys took advantage of it."
That mental and physical break from the grind of fall camp allowed both sides to further expand the playbook. That included the offensive staff installing a few different types of packages, further enhancing an already explosive and dangerous offense.
"We are just trying to mix some stuff up and do some different things. [The WildDawg formation] is always something that is going to be in our package to a degree. Part of getting that in your package is figuring out who can do it, who is good at it and who is comfortable doing it. That is what that was today, more than anything else it was just an opportunity for us to get some guys back there, let them react and see how they reacted.
Part of the package added today was putting running backs Ray Holley and Hunter Lee at receiver with Kenneth Dixon and/or Tevin King back at running back.
"More than anything else, those guys [Ray Holley and Hunter Lee] can play a variety of positions," explained Dykes. "They can play running back and they both have gotten a lot of reps there. I am pretty confident with what they can do there. Those are positions [inside receiver] where we can get creative on how to get them the ball. It is more of an experiment right now and we will see if it grows into anything."
Despite the new packages and plays, the highlight of the team period was safety Quinn Giles getting an interception and running it back for what would have been a score. Giles matured last season into a quiet but effective playmaker that tied Jay Dudley with a team-leading four interceptions.
"I have been really pleased with Quinn [Giles]," Dykes said. "He made a big play today as he intercepted a pass and ran it back in the team period. I thought he played well in the scrimmage, I really did. He is a guy that we need to play well and to me he has really improved his play from the spring to right now. I thought he had a good, solid camp and I have been really pleased with what I have seen from him."
Also in the secondary with Giles is another greatly improved player in Craig Johnson. Thrown into action early in the season when Ryan Williams was injured, Johnson stepped in quickly and adjusted to the game. He capped off the regular season by returning a punt for a touchdown in Tech's 44-0 win over New Mexico State to clinch the Western Athletic Conference championship.
"Craig [Johnson] played well for us last year," commented Dykes. "He is more mature, has a better sense of what is going on and good anticipation. That is one thing he does is that he has good instincts and he can anticipate guys. He is a big play guy; he makes a lot of turnovers, strips the ball, intercepts the passes and runs punts back. He does a lot of things for us and he is an exciting and dynamic player. He is a guy that really showed up in the scrimmage and made a lot of plays. We are going to need him to make those plays."