This is incredibly late, I know, but some late information is still better than none at all, right? We will take this position-by-position (at least in regarding the skill positions) on offense, then go over specific players to watch on the defense. Here we go...
Quarterback - Taylor Bennett (SR) :: Taylor Bennett is an ex-Yellow Jacket, having spent his first three years of college at Georgia Tech. In Atlanta, he played sparingly his first two years in college, throwing only 95 passes combined. However, entering his junior season last year he was given the starting job by ex-coach Chan Gailey. While the starter, he performed poorly, completing under 50% of his passes in a fairly uncomplicated system and posting a 7:9 TD:INT ratio. His performance didn't help out his coach all that much, and Chan was let go of at the end of the season.
Incoming coach, Paul Johnson formerly of Navy, favors a triple-option offense, one that highlights Bennett's biggest deficiencies of athleticism and speed. So, he was looking squarely at a season spent on the bench to close out his college career. Thus, he went out looking for a QB spot somewhere in Div-1. Preferrably, somewhere relatively near home, a team with some chance of doing some things this year and, most importatnly, that had an offense that suited his capabilities.
He found that somewhere with Louisiana Tech, where an inexperienced crop of young QBs were fighting it out for the starting slot. After being granted a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately without sitting out a year, he immediately rose up to the top of the depth chart.
Judging by his performance in the season opener, he still doesn't appear to be a tremendous passer. He only completed 14 of 40 passes, an absolutely terrible percentage. And it wasn't like he was trying to beat Mississippi State with bombs, either, averaging only 12.5 yards a completion. He isn't exactly dinking-and-dunking, but he also isn't going all NFL Blitz on everyone. He also threw a pick, not a great way to make up for a less-than-acceptable competion %. He only ran three times for five yards, too, so he isn't exactly mobile.
All things being considered, Bennett should be an easy QB to get off rhythm, and it isn't exactly all that hot of a rhythm anyways. He will complete his fair share of passes, likely more than 14 as he becomes further acquainted with his receivers, but he isn't going to be a big threat to light us up.
Runningback - Patrick Jackson (SR) :: Jackson is entering his third year as the primary ball-carrier for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, having averaged nearly 5 yards a pop over that span. He is a really solid back, a speed back who is fully capable of breaking a big run at any point in time. He is also a decent receiving threat out of the backfield, although he certainly is no Roger Craig back there. He caught 3 passes last game, which seems a lot more impressive considering that there were only a total of 14 passes competed the entire game.
Our running defense, of course, is farily stout. Almost certainly better than Missisissippi State's, which held Jackson to only 62 yards on 17 carries. So, with that said, Jackson figures to be worse off this week than he was last one, and he wasn't tremendous last week. Passable, sure. Good, even. But not productive enough to give us a scare, with the beast-of-a-linebacking crew and all.
Wide Receiver - Phillip Livas #6 (SO) :: If you want to simply watch a single player on the Louisiana Tech offense, watch LIvas. If you want there version of our very own Daymond Patterson, look at Livas. If you want to be excited on Saturday, make sure you pay attention to #6. If you are looking for a reason that La Tech will pull off the upset, begin your argument with one Mr. Livas.
He is explosive, to say the least, and the primary target of Bennett. If we are going to ensure victory, it starts with getting Chris Harris firmly entrenched to Livas' hip, without committing pass interference, of course.
Livas only caught 28 passes last season, but he did average 18 yards a catch, showcasing his explosive potential. Last Saturday, he caught 6 passes, and he figures to be an even larger part of the offensive gameplan this year.
Other WRs to watch out for are Phillip Beck (a possession-type) and John Wheeler (another burner).
Sorry for getting this out so late. We are going to forgo the defensive players preview, and simply prepare for gametime, which is currently T-minus 2 hours away. Can't wait to finally see a game on TV this year.