April 2, 2014
RUSTON, La. - New Louisiana Tech women's basketball coach Tyler Summitt mentioned the need to defend in his introductory press conference Wednesday. That mentality transferred over to the gridiron as the Bulldog defense made several big plays in the team's 10th practice of the spring.
Louisiana Tech practiced in full pads for two hours at Joe Aillet Stadium Wednesday afternoon as the defense continued to grow in its new playbook, making several big plays and forcing several turnovers during team drills and the live red zone session at the end of practice.
Wednesday's practice session marked the last full pads practice before the team holds its first scrimmage of the spring, set for Saturday at 11 a.m.
"They are doing a lot of things right now," Louisiana Tech head football coach Skip Holtz said of the defense. "They are flying around and have picked up the defense really well. They have picked up the terminology and where to go and what to do. They are giving us a lot of looks and it is confusing."
That confusion for the offense is aided by the defense returning several starters in the secondary while the offense is replacing three of five starters on the offensive line and trying to find a starter between returning quarterbacks Ryan Higgins and Scotty Young. That challenge has been compounded by defensive coordinator Manny Diaz not being limited in looks or blitzes he is allowed to do during team drills.
"I have been in some spring practices where you can't blitz or there is limited blitzing; this one has been wide open and they are giving everything to our offense from three-down to four-down to pressures to zone blitzes to man coverage to all-out blitzes. You are getting all of it and I think it is going to make our offense better in the fall. A year ago, we got very blitzing because we were not a very big pressure defense and I think that hurt us when we got to the fall," said Holtz.
To achieve success on the field, new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is not only teaching his unit a new system but also to play with a sense of urgency and an edge on the field.
"Defense is a high energy exercise," Diaz explained. "You cannot play defense in a calm state of mind. What we are trying to understand that every time we take the field we are doing so with a sense of urgency. WE have to have an edge. There is not a call, not a front, not a blitz and not a coverage that works unless you play with an edge. Then you cannot let adversity dull your edge. All of a sudden, somebody makes a play or two and it is easy to lose your edge then they are able to make a couple more plays. That is what spring is all about. We are not there yet but the guys see it and know what we want."
Louisiana Tech will return to action Friday afternoon for a short practice then the team will hold its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at Joe Aillet Stadium.
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