Each week this season, GigEmNation will seek insight on Texas A&M's upcoming opponent with a writer that covers the opposing team. Today we visit with Jimmy Watson, who covers Louisiana Tech for the Shreveport Times.
Sam Khan Jr.: Louisiana Tech is coming off a pretty nice season, going 8-5 with a WAC championship and a bowl game appearance. What are expectations like for the Bulldogs this year?
Jimmy Watson: Tech is supposed to be better than they were a year ago. Unlike 2011, the quarterback situation is settled entering the season with a senior leader in Colby Cameron. Tech is deep at running back and has one of the best receivers in the nation in Quinton Patton. The offensive and defensive lines are solid with depth at every position. They’re picked to win what will be the final season of WAC football.
SK: In your opinion, what was the biggest reason for Louisiana Tech's success last season and why might that continue this year?
JW: There were some senior leaders who held things together after they started 1-4, including a devastating 35-34 loss to Kevin Sumlin’s Houston team when Tech led 34-7 in the second half.
SK: How does Quinton Patton stack up to other top-flight receivers you have seen in recent years?
JW: He is the best I’ve seen at Tech since Troy Edwards, who played several seasons in the NFL. He has all the tangibles and the intangibles that coaches like, including working his tail off this summer to become even better than he was last year. There are several other receivers who can take the pressure off him if anyone tries to key on him.
SK: Give me a name on the Bulldogs' roster that Texas A&M fans might not know today, but will know by the end of the game, and why.
JW: Kenneth Dixon – true freshman running back. He’s a bruiser with deceptive speed and is expected to make a mark this fall. Coach Sonny Dykes said “he is mature beyond his years.”
SK: Because there's a familiarity with Texas A&M's offensive scheme based on Sonny Dykes' history with the offense and the fact that Louisiana Tech led Houston by four touchdowns when Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury were there last year, is there a sense of comfort or confidence for the Bulldogs -- particularly defensively -- as they head into this game?
JW: Not much comfort because of the upgraded personnel in College Station and the knowledge that Sumlin will build his offense around the strengths of his playmakers rather than vice versa. The defense is confident, however, that it can hold its own.
SK: What are you expecting out of senior quarterback Colby Cameron when the lights come on Thursday night?
JW: He should be solid in all aspects of his play. He has a full grasp of the Tony Franklin offense and can make the throws he needs to make. He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal that Tech hasn’t had in the 12 years or so I’ve been covering them. If the veteran offensive line can adequately protect him from the talented Aggie defense, he should have a good game.
SK: What's your prediction for the game against Texas A&M and for Louisiana Tech's record/postseason fate this season?
JW: I believe A&M should win the game, but it’ll probably be by 10 points or less. If Tech wins or breaks even in the turnover battle, they’ll have a chance to win the game in the second half. In 2012, Tech should go 8-4, maybe 9-3, and get a decent bowl slot.
NOTE: If this game gets moved to Oct. 13 due to Hurricane Issac, all bets are off.