Our chat with Jerit Roser of the Monroe (La.) News Star reporter
Are the fans on board with all the scoring or would they rather see a little bit of defense?
Everyone seems to be excited right now both with the scoring and, more importantly, the winning, but there have definitely been questions about the defense as well — and understandably so. Coach Dykes mentioned this week that he's never understood the people who get down about scoring too much, and he acknowledges that his offense's fast pace can put the defense in some binds at times, so to some extent the offense will continue its shootout mentality, but Dykes also wants to see his defense tighten up, particularly on third downs.
What have the players and coaches said about this stretch of games against three BCS programs?
The coaches and players the past year and a half have just been really excited for any opportunity to match and measure themselves against any challenge — whether it be Case Keenum and Houston, SEC opponents or TCU last season or Texas A&M, Illinois or Virginia this season. The Bulldogs are at a point now under Coach Dykes that they feel they can play with just about anyone if they play to their ability, and they relish their chances to prove it.
Is the game going to last past midnight?
Not with a 7 p.m. start — unless something unexpected interrupts — but I'd bet plenty that an 8 p.m. game would. It seems like most of the Tech games I've covered have been nearer to four hours than three hours, and I'd expect that to again be the case, although Illinois' defense should slow the Bulldogs down about as much as any of its other 2011 or 2012 opponents.
Who's more popular in Ruston, Karl Malone or Terry Bradshaw?
I've gotta say Terry Bradshaw due in no small part to higher visibility. Karl Malone's got kind of a hot-and-cold dynamic, depending on whom you ask, while the fun, goofy "NFL on Fox" personality seems to be the Bradshaw standard and one that's available in a variety of media, including one of the most entertaining Joe Aillet Stadium videoboard sequences on game days.
How did the team handle the Week 1 cancellation because of the hurricane?
There was some disappointment in having to postpone the highly anticipated season opener with Texas A&M, but the team seemed to handle the ordeal pretty well and came out firing on the road early against a motivated Houston team.
Give us a prediction.
Louisiana Tech has looked really impressive the second half of the 2011 season, the spring, fall practice and through two games this season, and I'll predict the Bulldogs to win a close game, 38-34, but I wouldn't be surprised either way. We've certainly learned a fair bit about the team thus far this season, but I think we'll learn a lot more this week. I'll stick with the high expectations for now, though, although the point total should come down.