Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes knew installing a new offensive system and learning his new personnel wouldn’t be easy during 15 spring practices, but he was pleasantly surprised to learn after the first day of spring ball that the cupboard isn’t bare.
“I think we have a lot of skill, offensively,” Dykes said after Wednesday’s practice, his first as the Bulldogs new coach. “That is one thing that I have been really impressed with, the number of skill position players that we have with a lot of talent. Now, they are raw. We will have to do a really good job of developing them and bringing them along, but we have some guys that have a chance to be pretty exciting players.”
Louisiana Tech will transition from a traditional offense to a spread no-huddle similar to what is run at Texas Tech. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin installed about a third of the offensive gameplan on the first day and another third will be added when practice resumes Friday.
Of course the main goal is to get the offensive skill players used to playing at a faster pace and throwing and catching the ball more than they’re used to. The coaching staff even brought in tennis ball machines to shoot tennis balls at players so they could work on their hands.
“I was really happy with our skill positions today, but again, we didn’t do a lot today,” Dykes said. “We dropped a lot of balls, ran the wrong route several times and did a lot of things mentally that we have to improve on. But the overall athleticism [was there] and [the players were] responding to what the coaches were telling them.”
Most of the practice was concentrated on the run game and screen passes. While there were a few deep balls, Dykes said he wanted to start with the shorter plays.
Dykes said he is concerned with throwing too much at the players too soon because he doesn’t want them to get overwhelmed. It’s easy for a player to get caught up in remembering what to do rather than just doing it.
Overall though, Dykes is pleased with the early direction his new team is taking.
“What happens, just like with everything, is that they start to get a little mentally tired and worn out and start busting a bit more,” Dykes said. “The big thing that we need to do with this football team is finish. We need to finish our practice a little better than we did today. It looked like we got a little tired and we didn’t finish as strong as we should have but I thought it was a good day.”