FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas hosts Louisiana Tech on Saturday afternoon in the teams’ 2016 season openers.
To help preview the game, Louisiana Tech radio color analyst Teddy Allen joined SEC Country’s Arkansas podcast this week.
What follows is an abridged version of that conversation.
Q: Louisiana Tech has become one of those mid-major teams that Power 5 teams have to fear. How has that come to be in the last several years?
A: They’ve always been good. Since about seven or eight years ago, when Sonny Dykes came, they really started throwing the ball around a lot more and a lot more successfully. As they did with Roger Carr and Pat Tilley, back in the national championship small-college days.
They’ve upped their facilities. We’re building a press box that really was outdated when it was built in ’68. It’s gonna go from the 10 to the 10; that’ll make a big difference. They’ve got turf on the field.
There’s been a lot of financial commitment to the program. And, really, Skip (Holtz) and his guys, since they’ve got here four years ago, they’re all just so enthusiastic. They’re an enthusiastic staff. They inherited a team that had led the nation in scoring …, but 28 of those guys left. So when Skip and those guys got here, it was terrible. It was hard to watch a game. They were 4-8 that year. They were real slow. It would have been like 22 of me being out there.
The next year they won nine games and a bowl, and then last year, they won nine games and a bowl. They’ve got a little momentum going, and it’s a really good staff.
Now how much on the field it will show up, record-wise, we don’t know. But I expect them to get bowl eligible. Maybe 6-6 or 7-5.
Is getting back to a bowl game the expectation this season?
The positive side of that, they are inexperienced, but they have a lot of depth. A lot of players have played a lot but haven’t played the whole game. They have a lot of experience but not a lot of starting experience. And certainly not starting on the road at an SEC venue with all those Hogs there.
This year, if they didn’t get back to a bowl, they’d be disappointed just because so many of these players have been to two straight, and they’ve won nine games the last two years. I think everybody except the lunatic fringe knows that to win nine this year would probably be stretching it a little bit, and I think everybody would be real happy about seven or eight.
I think in a couple more years, with the way they’ve been recruiting, and with the facility improvements like they’ve had, I think they can keep it rolling here for a little while.
J’mar Smith has worked really hard since the spring and all summer, watching film, never missed a workout. He’s really been dedicated to trying to learn how to play college football.
He’s a very good athlete. He’s gonna be able to move better than any other quarterback Tech could put out there. But not a lot of redshirt-freshman quarterbacks start, and there’s a reason for that.
I thought it might be a problem, but the other day, they voted team captains, and they voted (wide receiver) Trent Taylor … and Ryan Higgins as offensive team captains. That told me a little bit.