NCF Nation: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

3-point stance: More on Lane Kiffin

September, 30, 2013
1. Remember when bowls used to pick teams in October? That’s how we got the BCS. Firing coaches is happening earlier and earlier. But history says that USC athletic director Pat Haden is smart. He gets the jump on other schools in the annual coaching employment fair. In 2004, Florida fired Ron Zook in late October and beat Notre Dame to Urban Meyer. In 2011, Arizona fired Mike Stoops in mid-October and got to Rich Rodriguez before anyone else. Haden didn’t even wait until Oct. 1.

2. Whatever mistakes Kiffin made on the field, he didn’t help himself off the field. Faced with crippling scholarship sanctions, Kiffin didn’t do a very good job of explaining and selling the effects of those losses on his program. He fanned the hype of being a preseason No. 1 last season when the Trojans didn’t have the depth to withstand injuries. Contrast Kiffin to Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, who has made it clear to his fans and to the public that Penn State will fight hard, but they will fight uphill. Gene Wojciechowski said it: the worst thing Kiffin did was go 10-2 two years ago.

3. If Kiffin does nothing else, he provides Skip Holtz with an example of how things could be worse. A year ago, Holtz’s South Florida team was a preseason favorite in the Big East. The Bulls went 3-9, and instead of finishing in a BCS bowl, Holtz had to look for a job. He took over at Louisiana Tech, which lost 17 starters from last season’s 9-3 team (a reminder of why Sonny Dykes left for Cal). The Bulldogs are 0-4 against FBS opponents, none of them worldbeaters, and Holtz has lost 13 of his last 14 FBS games.

Instant analysis: A&M 59, La. Tech 57

October, 14, 2012

After a wild game with dramatic twists and turns, including a furious comeback attempt, Texas A&M outlasted Louisiana Tech 59-57 and escaped Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La., with a win to improve to 5-1 overall and give the Bulldogs (5-1) their first loss.

It was over when: Texas A&M running back Ben Malena recovered a Louisiana Tech onside kick attempt with 37 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs already had recovered one onside kick to set up their final touchdown, but Malena stepped in front of the ball and secured it for the Aggies to take a knee and leave with a win.

Game ball goes to: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman continues to shine and broke the Texas A&M and Southeastern Conference records that he set against Arkansas earlier this season, compiling 577 total offensive yards. Manziel was 24-of-40 passing for 396 yards and three touchdown passes while rushing 19 times for 181 yards and three scores, including a 72-yarder that gave the Aggies their final points.

Game ball, Part 2: Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton deserves a game ball for his tremendous effort for the Bulldogs. The Biletnikoff Award watch list member showed why he's considered one of the best receivers in the country, catching a whopping 21 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns. The Aggies rarely had an answer for him, and Patton played a huge role in the Bulldogs' late rally to narrow the Aggies' lead.

Rising star: Louisiana Tech true freshman running back Kenneth Dixon. He had 18 carries for 111 yards (an average of 6.2 per carry) and had two touchdowns. He broke plenty of tackles on his second scoring run of the night. Texas A&M redshirt freshman receiver Mike Evans also was impressive and continues to produce for the Aggies as perhaps Manziel's favorite receiver, catching four passes for 137 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch.

What it means: For the Aggies, it sets up a huge showdown with 6-1 LSU next week at Kyle Field. Texas A&M saw some issues that existed in its season-opening loss to Florida (penalties and missed tackles among them) and after a strong first four games on defense, allowing 57 points certainly won't be comforting for coach Kevin Sumlin and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.

For Louisiana Tech, it means its BCS-busting hopes are all but dashed. The Bulldogs likely will drop out of the rankings, but Sonny Dykes and Co. have nothing to be ashamed of. They showed tremendous fight and gave an SEC team a run for its money. The Bulldogs are still the favorites to win the WAC, and should they run the table the rest of the way, they'll jump back in and move up the rankings.

And depending how he fares next week against LSU, Manziel might start hearing the word "Heisman" mentioned in connection with his name pretty soon.