WKU Football: Louisiana Tech Q&A With Underdog Dynasty’s Tanner Spearman
Conference play begins on Saturday in a familiar early-season matchup with the Tops and their…rivals?…from the West in Louisiana Tech.
We reached out Tanner Spearman, the Louisiana Tech writer for Underdog Dynasty, to answer some questions about the Techsters, the La Tech/WKU rivarly and the mutual respect the two squads have for one another.
The Towel Rack: Both teams are coming off pretty disheartening losses. We all know WKU was a pretty popular favorite over Illinois. What was the mood around La Tech fans prior to the Mississippi State game? What is the mood now?
Tanner Spearman: There was some concern after the NSU game, but still some cautious optimism. That’s pretty much all gone now. This was Tech’s worst home loss in years, and the offense just looked so bad most of the game. People are hitting the panic button and are about ready to check out on this season. If the team can at least show some competence, the mood could slowly improve, especially if Tech wins. But another embarrassing performance and fans will be asking when basketball season starts.
TTR: What went well against Mississippi State?
TS: Amik Robertson. That’s pretty much it. The true freshman had an interception that he almost took to the house, which set up a touchdown that gave Tech a 9–0 lead (a memory which seems so distant now). He also returned a blocked PAT for two points. He’s going to be a special player.
TTR: What didn’t go so well against Mississippi State?
But anyway, the offense just could never get going. Turnovers, incomplete passes and just general dysfunction all around. This looks nothing like the offense we’re used to seeing in Ruston. I still think there’s talent, it’s just very raw and very inexperienced. The biggest thing that irks me is that J’Mar just refuses to run when he has to scramble. He’s determined to pass it and has been strip sacked in both games because of that. Yes, Tech scored 21 points against Mississippi State, but don’t think for a second the offense truly earned it. Those points came from a field goal, a touchdown where the offense got the ball inside the 5 after a pick, a blocked PAT returned for two, another field goal, and a touchdown by the backups with :15 to play in the game.
TTR: We did a preseason look at the Bulldogs a few weeks ago and highlighted three players WKU should lookout for — Jaylon Ferguson, Jarred Craft and J’mar Smith. Is there anyone we overlooked or, better yet, anyone we didn’t know about?
TS: See my answer to question two; Amik Robertson.
TTR: Coach Holtz, to begin his presser earlier this week, seemed a little hesitant to call the matchup a rivarly. From the La Tech side of things — is it?
TS: I guess it depends on how you define “rivalry”. If you mean two teams that hate each other’s guts, then no. I think these two programs and fan bases have a lot of respect for one another, and there’s definitely something to be said for the four games played in three years, with two of them decided by three points each. I think what’s missing is that neither program has really done anything to piss the other off yet. Every single game ever played between La Tech and WKU, even going back before they joined C-USA, has been won by the home team. The last two years, the game has been in the first half of the season, so the games haven’t been played when teams are clawing their way to division titles or bowl eligibility. Neither team has really felt like the other stole something from them. And to be honest, based on how both teams have played thus far, I don’t think either team will feel slighted in a loss this year. In order to become a true rivalry, someone has to get mad. I will say this, however, if there is any cross-division rivalry in C-USA, this is it.
It’s always fun to hear what other fan bases think of your squad. That being said, what’s the view of the Toppers from the La Tech perspective?
TS: WKU has been one of the extremely few programs in C-USA that have been able to challenge Tech thus far (2013 season notwithstanding). WKU isn’t, however, a team that Tech desperately wants to beat more than others. That’s Southern Miss. I guess I would say WKU is the team Tech fans want Tech to be, in the sense that one of the few things Tech hasn’t been able to do in C-USA is win the title, and Western has done so the past two years. Personally, I almost feel like WKU is our brother from the east division. Tech wants to beat WKU obviously, but it’s easy to root for WKU otherwise. Like I said before, there’s mostly no real hatred towards WKU. That’s reserved for teams from cities like Baton Rouge, Hattiesburg, and Lafayette. Skip Holtz called it a “respect rivalry,” and I think that’s a great way to put it. If there’s any program in C-USA that Tech fans would be fine staying in a conference with, it’s WKU.
TTR: This game could go one of about 50 different ways after what we’ve seen from the first two weeks. How do you think it shakes out on Saturday?
TS: I have no earthly idea. I think it’ll be lower scoring than we’re used to seeing from this game due to both offenses struggling. If one offense finally clicks, that team will win. If not, it’ll be an ugly game that fails to do justice to this series. I’m inclined to think that if the status quo holds for both teams, WKU will win.
Here’s to a game that hopefully doesn’t suck!
Big thanks to Tanner for taking some time to answer our questions, and go check out his work, as well as the rest of the team over at Underdog Dynasty. Also, while you’re at it, give Tanner a follow on Twitter at @TannerSpearman.