Its time for our weekly Q&A heading into UNT’s game against Louisiana Tech on Thursday night. Today, we are fortunate to have Sean Isabella from the News-Star in Monroe, La. You can find Sean’s stories on the News Star’s website and on Twitter at ST_IsabellaTNS. Here is what Sean had to say about the game:
1. How much has La. Tech improved this year and why?
I think it’s simply the mindset. In year 1 under Skip Holtz in 2013, I could sense the team never truly believed how good they could be. Their is more of a comfort level this year, the team is closer and the confidence is growing, the same confidence that was evident on the field in Saturday’s win over UL Lafayette. Defensively, the Bulldogs are better than last year and offensively it’s not even close. La. Tech finally has a quarterback, the wide receivers can make plays down the field and the offensive line has come together. It’s night and day compared to 2013.
2. Talk about Kenneth Dixon
Where do I start? He’s fresh off a 184-yard, two-touchdown performance over UL Lafayette and the Bulldogs will need a strong showing Thursday to have a chance. A lot of talking heads will dub his 99-yard run as a busted play, but it’s far from that. UL Lafayette blitzed to the wrong side and La. Tech did a solid job of blocking the left side and Dixon did the rest, making the safety miss and racing the distance for the score. He’s a tough runner and only needs a crease or two to make something happen. If the Bulldogs can get him over 100 yards against North Texas, they’ll have a shot.
3. Is La. Tech a bit worn out from being on the road this long?
Possibly, but they knew this was coming months ago when the schedule was released. They certainly aren’t using it as an excuse, and if anything, they carry momentum from the big win over UL Lafayette. Skip Holtz stressed the importance of these two games (UL Lafayette and North Texas) so a 2-1 record could do wonders for their confidence going forward. They realize it will be a physical game, so I could see them being worn out from that standpoint as the game progresses.
4. Talk about La. Tech’s new QB Cody Sokol
He was locked in against UL Lafayette. In two games, he has just one interception, which is music to Holtz’s ears. Last year, starting QB Ryan Higgins had 13 interceptions to just six touchdowns. Sokol has been very solid so far. He can make the correct reads and throws and I expect him to keep improving as he gets more comfortable with the offense. So far, Tech coaches are elated with what they’ve seen from Sokol since he’s a huge upgrade from what they had in 2013.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
This is a different game than La. Tech’s first two, where the Bulldogs played two spread offenses. Holtz mentioned how North Tech will try and win with physical football, so I’d expect the game to be decided in the trenches. Oklahoma dominated La. Tech’s offensive and defensive line, so there is some worry there. The Bulldogs have team speed and have shown they can make plays by spreading team out, so it’s possibly they ask Sokol to do more with the football if Dixon can’t get going. La. Tech will keep it close, but I’ll give the nod to North Texas in a game that could come down to the wire. 24-20 UNT.