Who’s Hot, Louisiana Tech:
Marcus Gaines: While Gaines may be small in stature, he was anything but that on the field Saturday night against Mississippi State. Gaines had one of the best games of his Tech career, collecting three catches for 104 yards including a 58 yard catch and run that set up a field goal for the ‘Dogs. Starting in the place of Alfred Smith, Gaines made the most of his opportunity and will look to keep it rolling against defending Conference USA Champion Western Kentucky this week.
Amik Robertson: The young freshman cornerback is a budding superstar for the Bulldogs. No stage is too big for Robertson as he collected one pass breakup, one tackle for loss, and had his first career interception against Mississippi State. He returned the interception 62 yards, which set up a Kam McKnight touchdown two plays later. Robertson is a program changing defensive back, and he has showcased that throughout the first two weeks.
Boston Scott: Last week senior running back, Jarred Craft, made this list, and this week it’s Boston Scott. Scott, along with Craft and Jaqwis Dancy make up a dynamic ‘factory’ of running backs that Coach Holtz employs on a weekly basis. Scott rushed for 96 yards against Mississippi State with a gaudy 7.4 yards per carry. Scott will play a key role as Louisiana Tech opens Conference USA play at Western Kentucky.
Who’s Not, Louisiana Tech:
J’Mar Smith: The sophomore quarterback has had his share of struggles through two weeks; the main issue being turning the ball over. Will J’Mar Smith still be a ‘rockstar’ and future all-conference quarterback? The talent is certainly there to do so. However, to this point he has shown his youth and needs to begin trusting his instincts more often, and the success will follow close behind.
Jaylon Ferguson: After a record-breaking 2016 season, Ferguson entered 2017 with lofty expectations. After two games of not having recorded a sack, Bulldog fans have been left looking for more game-changing plays. But on the flip side, he has collected seven tackles and three quarterback hurries thus far. Tech needs more from him in the sack department. With Forrest Lamp off to the NFL, the Hilltoppers have a major hole at left tackle. If Ferguson can find his way to the quarterback and force a game changing turnover he will quickly find himself back in the good graces of Bulldog fans everywhere.
Who’s Hot Western Kentucky:
Nacarious Fant: Who will replace Taywan Taylor? That was the question surrounding Western Kentucky football heading into 2017. Fant took a major step forward in doing so Saturday night against Illinois, collecting 10 catches for 110 yards on the night. While only 5’9”, Fant will be Mike White’s go-to guy on Saturday night.
Western Kentucky Rush Defense: In 2016 Western Kentucky gave up only three yards per carry ranking their defense fourth nationally. The 2017 Hilltopper defense has given up an identical three yards per carry as well thus far. Tech is in for a stiff test Saturday night. The Western defensive line is led by senior defensive tackle, Chris Johnson.
Who’s Not, Western Kentucky:
DeAndre Ferby, Quinton Baker, & Marquez Trigg: A year ago Anthony Wales led the Western Kentucky rushing attack with over 1,600 yards and 29 total touchdowns. The three were expected to combine to replace the stud running back, but last week at Illinois the trio combined for only 25 yards. For the season, Western Kentucky is averaging a paltry 1.9 yards per carry.
Mike White: A year ago White averaged 337 yards per game to go along with 37 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Fast forward to 2017 and through two games White is throwing for 251 yards per game. The concerning part is that he has only thrown one touchdown. The loss of Nick Norris and Taywan Taylor has slowed down the Western Kentucky passing attack.
Jake Collins: In a game where special teams could play a big role, the junior punter is certainly trending in the wrong direction. Collins averaged only 31 yards per punt against Illinois last week. If he can’t get things together, Tech could find themselves in favorable field positions to start drives Saturday night.