We finally were able to chalk up a win in the Matt Rhule era against Northern Illinois, and we now turn our focus to Louisiana Tech who comes to Lincoln after back to back 3-9 seasons. Sonny Cumbie is in his second season for LA Tech and most people may remember him as the QB for the Texas Tech team that hung 70 points on the first year Bill Callahan team. Ouch.
Louisiana Tech had been a staple in bowl games all the way through the Covid season of 2020. 2021 saw Skip Holtz go 3-9 and subsequently was fired. Cumbie was hired in 2022 and went 3-9 again. He looks poised to build on that 3 win season, but by how much?
The Bulldogs come to Lincoln at 2-2, with an FBS win against FIU (which isn’t looking terrible sitting at 3-1). They are an offense that is explosive and can score quickly, as they have had a play go for 50 yards or more in 5 straight games. However, their defense gives up just as quick of scores and is definitely in rebuild mode as they give up just as many 50 plus yard plays. And they have a similar situation as the Cornhuskers, being that they are not sure who their QB will be this week (more on that later). Let’s take a look at their team stats:
Louisiana Tech dealt with a myriad of injuries at their QB position and actually ended up with a walk-on playing towards the end of the year in Jack Turner. That walk-on is now the backup, as Cumbie went to the portal and grabbed 29 game starter from Boise State, Hank Bachmeier. Bachmeier is exactly what Cumbie was looking for with his Air Raid offense, as he threw for 6600 yards, 41 TDs, and 19 INTs threw the air. This season he is completing 66% of his passes for 756 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 INTs. However, he was replaced in the 3rd quarter of the last game with a shoulder injury on a roughing the passer call. If he can’t go, they are in a world of trouble.
We will move to the Wide Receiver room where Smoke Harris is again their #1 target as he was a year ago, as he has started out hot with 24 receptions for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns. As we talked about with Croom from Minnesota, Horn Jr from Colorado, and Rutkiewicz from Northern Illinois, he runs from the slot position as he is only 5’7″. So for the 4th game in a row, the guy you have to stop is the guy players like Gifford will be covering. Nebraska seems to have gotten a handle on that. LA Tech lost their best WR in the portal from last year, Tre Harris who is now at Ole Miss and has already caught 5 touchdowns for them. They however do have Cyrus Allen back who at 6’0″ caught 22 passes for 500 yards and four touchdowns last year. So that is a decent 1-2 punch, and Koby Duru has also caught 2 touchdown passes so far this year. Lastly, Decoldest Crawford is on the roster, but has yet to catch any passes.
At Running Back Lousiana Tech was feeling confident going into the season as they had 3rd Team All-Conference running back returning Marquis Crosby, but he suffered a season ending injury in fall camp. Keith Willis Jr is the leader with 33 attempts and is only a true freshman, and i’m quite certain hasn’t played in front of a place like Nebraska. However, Tyre Shelton is doing more with the ball in his hands as he has over 10 yards per carry on the season so far. He is the fastest RB in their room and reminds me a bit of Gus Edwards from Colorado (maybe not as electric). So he will change the pace on us a bit. Charvis Thornton will also be seen in the backfield, as they rotate frequently.
Their offensive line reminds me a bit of Northern Illinois’ as they return some quality, with two honorable mention players back. And their center Delfin is back for a seventh year as he got hurt in game 3 last year. They do lose their 2 guards, one of which was a 3 time all conference selection. They have been average at best through their first games, and our DL will be the best they have faced all season. Add in the 3-3-5 confusion and I look for our front 6/7 to have a big game.
The Bulldogs lost their best defensive lineman to Arkansas, as he was a first team all-conference selection a year ago. And it has been evident with them giving up over 200 yards rushing and over 5 yards per carry. Nebraska should pound the ball early and often against them. There’s basically a bunch of guys that are average on the line here, and our OL should not have a problem here and get some confidence heading into Michigan.
At linebacker Louisiana Tech lost 6 of their top 7 guys from a year ago and had to grab 5 players in the portal. Brevin Randle who transferred in from Stephen F Austin is their second leading tackler at the WILL LB position. With 6 of their 7 guys being new, and their depleted DL… RUN… THE… BALL…
Their leading tackler for their defense is their strong safety Myles Heard, who transferred in from Stephen F Austin. They have a senior cornerback in Willie Roberts who earned honrable mention all-conference last year and leads their team in pass breakups. I’ll be curious if we avoid him or aren’t scared of that way. Cecil Singleton is the fourth leading tackler at the free safety spot. When running a 4-3 and your two safeties are your 1st and 4th leading tackler, that lets you know exactly what is happening in front of them. Basically nothing.
Nebraska with Anthony Grant at RB this game should be able to get some explosive plays against an extremely undermatched defense who has given up 40 to North Texas and 38 to SMU. Even an FCS school who is winless so far this year has scored 21 points on them. This is not to take them lightly, this is just to say Nebraska SHOULD have their way offensively.
This is easy. If the starting QB for LA Tech can’t go, shut them down on the ground. My suspicion is they are going to hold their starter out against us at minimum to get him ready for conference play. There’s no reason to risk him against our ferocious defense and really ruin your season as Cumbie has a chance to get to 5 or 6 wins this year. But the Huskers have done a masterful job at shutting any team down on the ground no matter who is playing, ranking 2nd in the nation at only 46.3 yards per game. Louisiana Tech hasn’t been able to run the ball this year, and with us being the toughest defense they will face so far this year I expect the Blackshirts to shut their ass down. As we’ve talked about before, DC Tony White playing a team with an immobile QB is like a viagra pill for him. Neither of the Bulldogs starting QB or their backup can move all that well, so I expect our defense to smother them.
On the other side of the ball, their defense just isn’t ready for an offense like ours (which seems weird typing). While we may not be explosive or intimidating, our guys should be able to pretty much do whatever they want. That’s not to pat us on the back, that’s more to say our offense is equal to North Texas or SMU in my opinion. My hope is that we get up by 3 touchdowns in the 3rd quarter and we get to pull Anthony Grant because we can’t afford an injury there. Will be interesting if they still let Emmett Johnson return kickoffs or if they start mixing in guys like Ethan Nation and other returners to keep our RB room healthier.
I expect Sims to start with Haarberg getting a series in the first half. They have to give Sims a chance against a team the caliber of what HH played last week. I don’t think Rhule is ready to pull the plug yet. But I could be wrong there.
All that said, I expect this to be a bigger blowout than the Northern Illinois game. If their starting QB is out, they are going to have a tough time moving the ball on us, and their defense doesn’t scare me.
Louisiana Tech 10
Tomorrow we will try to get our gambling picks and toilet reading back up and going, but Twitter/X isn’t letting me embed stuff anymore!
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