By MALCOLM BUTLER, Lincoln Parish Journal
RUSTON — It’s been a bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this year when it comes to performance at Joe Aillet Stadium compared to the road.
First-year Tech coach Sonny Cumbie is hoping the good doctor is in the house today when the Bulldogs host the Rice Owls for homecoming with kickoff set for 2 p.m. at The Joe.
The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on 92.1 FM in Shreveport with the pregame show starting at 12:30 p.m. and Malcolm Butler and Teddy Allen providing the call of the game. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+ with Lyn Rollins on the play by play.
Tech (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) is 2-0 at Joe Aillet Stadium, averaging 46.5 points per game, while still looking for its first win away from Ruston.
Cumbie knows the Bulldogs have their work cut out for them against a Rice squad that has already produced wins over UAB (28-24) and UL-Lafayette (33-21) this season.
“They are a good football team,” said Cumbie.
Rice (3-3, 1-1 C-USA) has been playing good team defense even in its losses, as illustrated by a 17-14 setback at Florida Atlantic last week. The Owls are surrendering only 346 yards per game.
“They will play a lot of man coverage on defense,” said Cumbie. “Their team defense is really good. Their staff has been together for three years, and you can tell they are all on the same page. They have older players; eight returning starters.
“They do a really good job with their front and their coverages in terms of mixing things up — man coverage; a two-high zone look; bounce back and forth between three and four down look. It will be interesting to see how they approach us.”
On the offensive side of the football, the Owls are a little more pass heavy although they have shown the ability to run the ball successfully as well. Cumbie knows with Tech’s struggles against the run this year that the Bulldogs could see a little more ground and pound from Rice.
“Offensively, lately, they have been more a little bit of 11 and 12 (one-back sets),” said Cumbie. “They haven’t been as heavy as what they started the season with. The message I had for our team on Thursday was we have six games of evidence of what we are good at and six games of evidence of what we are not good at. So what we aren’t good at you better believe they will try to exploit that.”
Tech leads the all-time series against Rice 9-5, including a 5-1 mark in Ruston.