No. 24 La. Tech brings powerful offense to NMSU
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes knows it's one thing to make it into the Top 25 and it's quite another to stay there.
That's because twice previously, the No. 24 Bulldogs found national recognition, only to lose the next game and drop out of the poll.
He doesn't want to make it a third Saturday when Louisiana Tech faces reeling Western Athletic Conference foe New Mexico State, a squad that has lost six straight games.
"As I have said many times, you do not want to be a one-hit wonder," Dykes said. "Last time we got in the polls, we did not handle it very well and did not play well against Texas A&M and got beat because of it. Hopefully, it will be a challenge for us and we will handle it better."
The Bulldogs (6-1, 1-0) are an offensive dynamo, having scored at least 44 points in every game and are averaging 56.
"I do think this group is good," Dykes said. "I think the thing that makes this different than what we have had in the past in some ways is the fact that we run the ball well and we throw it pretty well."
That's something of an understatement. Quarterback Colby Cameron has thrown for 2,306 yards and 20 touchdowns without an interception. He's coming off consecutive games with more than 400 yards through the air.
Freshman running back Kenneth Dixon, who is coming off a six-touchdown, 232-yard day against Idaho, has 767 yards on the season with 16 scores.
Quinton Patton is the Bulldogs' go-to receiver with 59 catches for 806 yards and 10 TDs.
"Usually you have an offense that is better at throwing or a little bit better at running, and this group is pretty good at doing both," Dykes said. "So I think that is what makes this group unique maybe."
It's an offensive juggernaut that has New Mexico State coach Dwayne Walker worried.
"Pretty scary," said Walker, whose Aggies' defense is giving up 451 yards a game. "These guys aren't going to allow us to get a lot of sleep this week."
Defensively, Dykes hasn't been quite as pleased. Louisiana Tech is giving up 38 points a game and more than 500 yards of total offense.
"I think if you go and look at our defense this year compared to last year's defense, I think the biggest issue has been just giving up too many third-down conversions," he said. "We have given up probably too many big plays, but the third-down conversions have been a big thing we wanted to do, so again, we are going to continue to work on that and improve that area."
And moving the ball is one thing that New Mexico State does well, Dykes said.
"They have an explosive football team," he pointed out. "That is the thing every year. They have good skill position players. Their receivers can always run well."
Quarterback Andrew Manley has thrown for 1,807 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Austin Franklin is Manley's favorite receiver with 50 catches for 826 yards and eight touchdowns.
"I think the quarterback, Manley, and the receivers and running backs are a really good group - probably toward the upper half in the WAC, certainly," Dykes said. "The quarterback has a big arm and can make a lot of throws."
The Aggies will need the offense to be at the top of its game to have a chance, Walker said.
Louisiana Tech has "a chance to win out and get a chance to be 11-1 and really start emerging as the top mid-level team in the country," he said. "We definitely have our hands full with this group."
Updated October 26, 2012