Yes, new head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin are going to bring in the Hal Mumme/Mike Leach pass-happy offense.
But the success of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs' offense will still have plenty to do with the transition of a group of running backs largely recruited to be in a between-the-tackles, downhill running scheme of former head coach Derek Dooley.
"I told our guys when I came here that this is a passing offense, we all know that, but if we perform on the field then we can't be ignored," new running backs coach Pierre Ingram said. "They have stepped up to that challenge so far during spring ball. We have some talented receivers and we know we have to block for those guys when we are in pass protection, but our guys want the ball."
The Dykes/Franklin offense isn't so much about vertical passing, so running backs, when not being asked to pick up blitzes in pass protection, will have plenty of opportunities to get touches on dump offs, screens and draw plays.
And if Dykes proved anything in his time at the University of Arizona, when he had the freakishly-athletic tight end Rob Gronkowski, he is willing to do a little more adapting of his offense to his personnel than either Leach or Mumme have shown in their coaching careers.
The transition from run, run, run to pass, pass, pass has already begun in Ruston, La. And while the project won't be completed by the end of spring practice, the early returns seem to be positive according to a very optimistic coaching staff.NOTES, QUOTES
SPRING OBJECTIVES: The incumbent quarterback is Ross Jenkins, a senior-to-be, but he's getting a good push in spring from not only sophomore Colby Cameron but also former Auburn transfer Steven Ensminger, a junior who has never taken a college snap.
Finding that quarterback heading into the summer is critical for an offense predicated on timing, repetition and finding a way to get on the same page with the skill position players when making pre-snap reads.
Of course finding someone to throw the ball is only one piece of the puzzle for the Sonny Dykes version of the Air Raid offense. Wide receiver will be a position that utilizes as many as six or seven players in a regular rotation.
The running backs and offensive line will have the most work in the transition from run blocking to pass protection tendencies and the spring will be very telling in that progression.
BUILDING BLOCKS: The story of the spring may be offense, but the team's defense will try to keep the high-scoring offenses in the Western Athletic Conference in relative check this fall.
The defense's strength, it appears, will be its linebacking unit that returns a pair of potential all-league type players in Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley.
In Cole, the Bulldogs have their leading tackler (93) returning. He also had four tackles for loss and forced a pair of fumbles. In Dudley, the Bulldogs have a 75-tackle performer who showed glimpses of greatness in WAC play and was coming on strong down the stretch with his 15-tackle performance against Utah State and a pair of 10-plus tackle games to close out the season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're a long way from being a finished product. But the guys are taking pride in every day correcting the majority of the things they did wrong the day before." -- Louisiana Tech linebackers coach Jeff Koonz.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: The recruiting class, with just about two weeks to finalize after the late departure of former coach Derek Dooley and late hiring of new coach Sonny Dykes, simply can't be adequately judged for some time. It's hard to know how many players already committed stayed on because they had nowhere else to go and how many stayed on who are truly proper fits to the vastly different schemes being implemented by Dykes.
Recruiting class aside, there are skill position players in place and a solid defense, giving Bulldogs fans every reason to expect the rebuilding process to be a short one, and more importantly, one that shouldn't result in a couple seasons of mediocre football.
The Bulldogs should be able to compete right off the bat in the Dykes era. And while competing for league titles, especially with the likes of Boise State and Nevada in the WAC, seems unlikely, bowl eligibility may not be unattainable.
WR Tim Molton -- The LSU transfer came to Louisiana Tech for a better opportunity to shine. That was when he thought he was coming into a run-dominated offense orchestrated by former head coach Derek Dooley. The offseason hiring of Sonny Dykes was a blessing for Molton, and his athleticism is a blessing for the Bulldogs offense.
CB Justin Goodman -- The junior college transfer from Blinn College will help the secondary from day one. Goodman, who won a national title in junior college, is a 5-10, 180-pound shutdown corner who plays a physical style that should be of great use in the WAC. He had 75 tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles in 2009.
WR Richie Casey -- After redshirting in 2009, the freshman opened his coaches' eyes early in spring practice, drawing from head coach Sonny Dykes the assessment that he could be a special player sooner rather than later in his Bulldogs career.
--WR Tim Molton, a transfer from LSU, was somewhat limited in spring practice by a leg injury. The limited action seemed more precautionary than a sign fans should be concerned.
--A pair of Tennessee transfers -- RB Lennon Creer and WR Ahmad Paige -- both participated in spring ball and both hope to be in the mix for starting roles by fall. Both, however, are in crowded competitions.
Previous Report: 04/17/2010