LaTech wants to lay down the law on UH
The Bulldogs have never beaten the gun-slinging Warriors in the conference
RUSTON, La. » A billboard on I-20, about 50 miles east of Shreveport, reminds tourists that these are the parts where Bonnie and Clyde met their demise in 1934, as Texas and Louisiana lawmen finally caught up to them and basically ran up the score. If you don't believe it, you can go to the museum and talk to the son of one of the gunmen who did them in; he manages the place.
Hawaii at Louisiana Tech
Where: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, La.
When: 1 p.m. tomorrow, Hawaii time
TV: Live statewide on KFVE (Ch. 5), same-day rebroadcast 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Radio: KKEA (1420-AM)
Internet: sportsradio1420.com (audio), hawaiiantelmedia.com (video for purchase).
There were rumblings earlier this week that the Louisiana Tech football team was planning an ambush of its own --a figurative one, of course -- for the Hawaii football team, an outfit whose run-and-shoot offense has been as difficult for the Bulldogs to solve as the legendary bank robbers were to apprehend for the peace officers.
LaTech is confident after last week's 34-14 win over New Mexico State to open Western Athletic Conference play; they were shutting out the Aggies until the last 2 minutes, when the second-string defense was in. And now, the Bulldogs are going up against a team they've never beaten in conference play. It sounds like Hawaii's situation last week, when it was prepping for Boise State.
Are the Bulldogs hungrier than usual for the Warriors, and do they think UH is vulnerable?
"Nah, it's just another game we have to win," LaTech running back Freddie Franklin said. "Their defense looks pretty fantastic to me. We're preparing for the worst."
LaTech coach Jack Bicknell said the win over NMSU was huge because the Bulldogs opened with two road losses. Also, hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted the early season with canceled practices, leaving players and staff more concerned about life and death issues than football. Many relatives of players from downstate, as well as other hurricane evacuees, are still guests of LaTech -- including the Tulane football team.
"We really needed something good for us to happen," Bicknell said.
While LaTech prepared for Hawaii in Ruston -- where UH won 44-41 two years ago -- Warriors coach June Jones stuck to the winning formula of practicing in Houston twice before arriving in Louisiana today.
"They're tough to beat down there," Jones said. "We played an unbelievable game (in 2003), probably the best we have. We took it down to the last play. We're gonna have to do that again."
UH went through the paces for 2 hours and 15 minutes last night at the Aldine Independent School District athletic complex -- a facility familiar to offensive lineman Brandon Eaton and defensive back Omega Hogan, who are from Houston. So is defensive line coach Vantz Singletary, and Jones and assistants Jerry Glanville and Mouse Davis coached pro teams in Houston.
Bicknell said the Bulldogs are wary of UH's defense, revitalized under Glanville. The Warriors went six consecutive quarters without allowing any points until tiring in the second half of the loss last week to Boise State (by that familiar 44-41 score).
"Jerry Glanville has made a big difference. He's got them flying around," Bicknell said. "It should be a major, major challenge."
Glanville has installed the 3-4 as UH's base defense. It also happens to be LaTech's primary look.
"It pretty much means there's just one extra guy in the zone," Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan said. "You just have to read it and make sure you're seeing everyone because there's an extra guy out there floating around trying to get in your passing lane."
Brennan passed for 426 yards and four touchdowns in the Boise State loss, but he was also intercepted twice after going two games without a pick. LaTech took advantage of six turnovers against the Aggies, including four interceptions.