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Dooley has the Bulldogs on the rise


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POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

Louisiana Tech hopes momentum has an extended shelf life.

The Bulldogs were among the hottest teams in the Western Athletic Conference to close 2008. They won five of their last six games, finishing Derek Dooley's second season in Ruston with an Independence Bowl win over Northern Illinois, the program's first postseason win since 1977.

A little more than eight months later, the Bulldogs will try to maintain their roll into a season that begins with road games at Auburn and Navy and includes a November trip to LSU.

; The return of 16 starters, nine on offense, fed heightened expectations with the Bulldogs tied for third in the WAC preseason coaches poll. While last year's conclusion marked a breakthrough, sustaining success will be the next step for the program.

Strengths

Dooley emphasizes control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. LaTech returns running back Daniel Porter, who rushed for 1,164 yards last season. Dooley was also pleased with the defense's ability to stop the run, with All-WAC pick D'Anthony Smith back to lead the front.

Receiver Philip Livas ranks among the league's most electrifying players. He led the WAC in all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns receiving, and had three more on punt and kickoff returns.

Weaknesses

The Bulldogs ranked 113th nationally in pass defense and will be inexperienced at cornerback. They'll need quarterback Ross Jenkins to provide balance to the offense. Louisiana Tech completed just nine touchdown passes in 2008.