RUSTON, La. -- Louisiana Tech's defense struggled statistically last season. This season one would think that not much as changed when they rank 107 in the country in pass defense. The place they have improved the most is on third down. They have allowed teams to convert first downs on third down only 29% of the time.
"The one thing we've done a very good job on is we're 71% on third down," said Tech defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler. The good thing is that means offenses are 20 for 69 on third down and really 69 third downs in 4 games is a lot. It's an indication that we're playing decent on first and second [down]. We're causing the opponent to punt 26 times in 4 games, which is about 6.5 times a game. Against the offenses we've played that's pretty good. So, there are some positives; we're much better on third down and causing turnovers by making them punt. We've got to get more takeaways - fumbles and get some more picks."
Looking at the season so far game by game and the offenses Tech has played, their worst performance is probably against Central Arkansas.
"We were solid enough to give our team a chance to win against Southern Miss," Spangler said. "Obviously we were so hot and cold against Central Arkansas. We played as good of three quarters against Houston than just about anyone has ever done against Case Keenum and then don't play very well in the fourth. [We] played pretty solid Saturday against Mississippi State giving them only one touchdown on defense in regulation against that offense that I think is pretty darn good. We've shown strides of improvement, obviously our record isn't indicating that but I think we have, I think people are noticing that, I think our kids are playing with little bit more confidence and a little more swagger than we have. The truth is, we have another tough challenge [in Hawaii]. I'm not sure offensively speaking, that many teams in America have played as good of offenses as we have."
Hawaii presents an interesting problem for Tech. Bryant Moniz can run and pass better than any quarterback Tech has faced so far.
"[Hawaii] might be the most dangerous team we've played so far, said Spangler. "Moniz is as dangerous of a player we have faced, running and passing. This is another challenge for our guys. Hopefully, we're going into it with a little better mindset than we had last year and a little more confidence."
Tech debuted a new defensive scheme against Houston. The scheme is a hybrid 4-3 and 3-4 defense.
"It's really a lot of the same carryover with our 4 down look. [Adrien] Cole and Solomon [Randle], are d-linemen that we pop out in coverage and that we can rush. It just gives us a little more to be able to rush 3, 4, 5 or 6. It gets more speed on the field for 4 or 5 wide receivers."
After the loss of Ryan Williams for the season due to injury, Quin Giles has had to step into his role and has done well so far.
"We lose Ryan who is probably one of our best DB's. Quin's got to step up and Jamel's got to step up even more than he's already done. Quin's done a good job and is a good player. He hasn't played a lot since he's been here but in the last 3 games he's played a lot. He played 32 snaps against Central Arkansas, right around 80 plays against Houston, and 72 against Mississippi State."
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