Dooley, Louisiana Tech feeling confident in Bulldogs' chances


POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2009


When rough economic times hit, Derek Dooley kept his cool.

Doubling as athletic director and head football coach at Louisiana Tech, Dooley didn't slash the budget in the wake of the downturn. Instead, the department moved forward with several projects aimed at enhancing the program.

“;The first thing people want to do is panic,”; Dooley said. “;We've made strategic cuts, but we did not cut in areas we felt we needed to invest in. I just believe that's the way you build a program.

“;You have to make some tough investments to realize dollars on the back end. If you just sit around and put your money in a mattress and pay the bills every year, it's hard to grow.”;

Dooley and the Bulldogs are looking for a big payoff on the field as well this season.

Ruston is brimming with expectations with the return of 16 starters (nine on offense, seven on defense) from last year's 8-5 team. LaTech closed the year with a 17-10 win over Northern Illinois in the Independence Bowl, the program's first postseason victory since 1977.





        Sept. 4 Central Arkansas

        Sept. 12 at Wash. State

        Sept. 19 at UNLV

        Sept. 30 at Louisiana Tech

        Oct. 10 Fresno State

        Oct. 17 at Idaho

        Oct. 24 Boise State

        Oct. 31 at Nevada

        Nov. 7 Utah State

        Nov. 14 New Mexico State

        Nov. 21 at San Jose State

        Nov. 28 Navy

        Dec. 5 Wisconsin

“;The expectations are as high as they've ever been,”; quarterback Ross Jenkins said. “;We embrace that. When you have success, that's going to happen.”;

The Bulldogs will look to Jenkins to balance an offense firmly grounded in the running game.

Daniel Porter rushed for 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns on his way to first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors last season. He'll run behind a line that returns all five starters, led by 6-foot-6, 310-pound tackle Rob McGill.

Getting the ball to junior Philip Livas will be one of Jenkins' primary tasks. Livas was an All-WAC kick returner last season and Dooley wants to get him more involved in the passing game.

“;He's got unique elusiveness that I still can't figure out,”; Dooley said. “;I watch him in practice and I tell him, 'Catch the ball and do that stuff you do.' There's a scheme element to football and there's a backyard element. I like the backyard element.”;

Jenkins went 6-2 as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback last season and will try to keep defenses from loading up against the run after LaTech quarterbacks threw just nine touchdown passes last season.

Jenkins went 11-for-22 for 229 yards and a touchdown in a scrimmage on Sunday. Tight end Dennis Morris led the Bulldogs with 101 receiving yards, 85 of those coming on a touchdown completion.

Cutting down on big plays in the passing game was a priority for Dooley heading into fall camp. LaTech ranked eighth in the conference and 113th in the country in pass defense last season, giving up 272.7 yards per game and 25 touchdowns through the air.

All-WAC tackle D'Anthony Smith returns to anchor the defensive front after posting five sacks last season. The secondary is led by two-time All-WAC safety Antonio Baker.