LA Tech prepared to be prepared against Navy

By Anthony Andro

Bowl preparation is supposed to be a time where teams spend equal time focusing on their postseason opponent and planning for next season by getting younger players extra reps in practice.

That’s not the case for Louisiana Tech (8-5) because the Bulldogs are getting ready to play Navy in Friday’s Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The Bulldogs have spent the majority of their practice time trying to find a way to slow down the Navy triple-option offense, which is nothing like anything the Bulldogs have seen this season.

The Bulldogs know it’s going to be important to see how a defense that ranked 70th nationally responds to an offense that ranked fourth in the country in rushing.

“The hard part is it’s going to take you a quarter, a quarter and a half to get used to the speed of the game and the way it’s coming,” Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz said. “You can know it’s coming, but it’s almost like you blink. The game has to slow down a little bit for us.”

Prepping for Navy has led to Louisiana Tech conducting practices without footballs so the defensive players focus on their assignment and not where the ball is. Holtz has also emphasized the importance of in-game adjustments, especially early as the Bulldogs adjust defensively to stopping the Navy offense.

That approach is working with the players.

“It’s going to start off slow for us,” said senior safety Xavier Woods, who has 81 tackles and five interceptions this year. “They might score a touchdown or two. We know we can’t get frustrated. We have to get comfortable and figure out the speed. You learn how to defeat the block, defeat the cut block they do so well. From then on, you can just play ball.”

Navy’s offensive approach is also putting an added emphasis on the approach Louisiana Tech takes offensively.

As methodical as Navy is with its ground game and ball control, Louisiana Tech likes to move fast and score points in bunches. Louisiana Tech ranks eighth the country in total offense and quarterback Ryan Higgins leads a unit that’s fifth in the nation in scoring (44 points). Louisiana Tech has scored at least 40 points in seven of its last eight games.

The Bulldogs could have a hard time extending that to eight of nine because Navy is so methodical on offense. That means when Louisiana Tech does have the ball, it has to capitalize.

“We know the way Navy runs their offense they’re going to be in control the whole game,” said senior receiver Trent Taylor, who has 1,570 yards and 10 touchdown catches this year. “We’re not going to get as many possessions as we usually do. Whenever we get the ball we have to take full advantage of it. There aren’t going to be any three and outs and then a ‘my bad’ because that could be the game right there. You’re only going to get it so many times. We have to execute to the fullest.”