Bulldogs’ defense faces tough test today at UTSA

WILL HE OR LYDDY?: Banged-up Parker McNeil or Calvary Baptist true freshman Landry Lyddy  will start today at quarterback for Louisiana Tech. (Photo by JOSH MCDANIEL, Louisiana Tech)

By MALCOLM BUTLER, Lincoln Parish Journal

SAN ANTONIO — Coming off its best defensive performance of the season, Louisiana Tech will be in for one of its biggest defensive challenges of 2022 today when the Bulldogs (3-6, 2-3) face UTSA (7-2, 5-0) at 2:30 p.m. at the Alamodome.

The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network (and on the LA Tech Athletics app) on 92.1 FM locally with Malcolm Butler and Teddy Allen providing the call of the game. Pregame will start at 1 p.m.

Head coach Sonny Cumbie and the Bulldogs are coming off a 40-24 win over Middle Tennessee last Saturday in a game that the ‘Dogs forced four second half turnovers, blocked a punt, and got a number of stops on downs.

However, Tech faces the first-place Roadrunners, who are coming off a double overtime win over UAB on the road last week and a team that boasts the top mark in C-USA.

“They have won six straight games,” said Cumbie. “They know how to win football games. They are a team that if it gets to the fourth quarter, they expect to win. They do the little things that it takes to win. We want to challenge our team and our program to learn to do the little things that can win you close games.”

UTSA is led by all-everything quarterback Frank Harris, who is the clubhouse leader for the league’s MVP award at this point of the season. Harris has passed for over 2,800 yards and 21 scores while rushing for another 350-plus yards and five more touchdowns. The veteran signal caller has Cumbie’s attention.

“They are really good on offense,” said Cumbie. “Their quarterback is starting his 40th career game. We will have our hands full with him. He can make plays with his feet. He does a great job in the pocket. I think they have a really good understanding of his skill set.”

Harris has plenty of weapons, including three receivers who have each recorded more than 700 yards receiving this season: Joshua Cephus (66-742-4), Zakhari Frankling (62-768-9) and De’Corian Clark (51-741-8).

The Bulldogs have played fruit-basket-turnover with their quarterbacks the last few weeks due to injury. Tech will make a game-time decision on Parker McNeil or Landry Lyddy based on McNeil’s status in pregame warmups. Regardless which QB gets the nod, the Bulldogs have their work cut out on both offense and special teams.

“UTSA is good on defense and on special teams,” said Cumbie. “They will try to steal a possession or two with those units. We have to be on our toes in terms of special teams.”