Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Ex-TCU wide receiver Isaiah Graham lands at Louisiana Tech

Leave a comment

A month after announcing his decision to transfer out of the TCU football program, wide receiver Isaiah Graham has announced he has found a new place to call home. Graham announced he is transferring to Louisiana Tech for the remainder of his college football career.

“I am so blessed and excited to announce that I will be continuing my education and college football career at LA Tech University,” Graham announced on Twitter.

Graham will have to sit out the upcoming 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will still have two years of eligibility to use at Louisiana Tech beginning in 2019. Louisiana Tech was one of the many schools to offer the former three-star recruit a scholarship during his recruiting process. Louisiana Tech will give Graham, a Louisiana native, a chance to play closer to home once he does become eligible again.

As a freshman, Graham played in nine games, in which he caught six passes for 68 yards. In the 2017 season, Graham appeared in 10 games and caught two passes for 16 yards.

Louisiana Tech destroys SMU in the Frisco Bowl to spoil start of the Sonny Dykes era

Getty Images
3 Comments

Sonny Dykes began Wednesday full of optimism thanks to the early National Signing Day and the initial crop of recruits in his first SMU recruiting class. The new head coach on the Hilltop ended Wednesday night full of despair however, as his old team of Louisiana Tech laid an absolute beatdown on his new one in the Frisco Bowl by a 51-10 margin that really didn’t indicate how lopsided the game was.

All told, the Mustangs turned the ball over six times in the game — five in the first half, including two pick-sixes and a fumble on the very first play. It was a theme that was repeated early and often and probably a reminder that there’s a reason that new head coaches don’t coach their new team in a bowl game after a week on campus for good reason.

About the only thing that didn’t go the way of the Bulldogs came on their first drive as they squandered the opening fumble by shanking a field goal attempt in the red zone. That didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things as quarterback J’Mar Smith played nearly perfectly on all those short drives, throwing for 216 yards and a trio of touchdowns while also running one in on a fourth down sneak. Not a bad little performance with a school legend like Terry Bradshaw looking on from the sidelines.

Wideout Teddy Veal was the top target in the passing game and recorded five catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores as he got behind the defense numerous times. He formed a pretty hefty one-two punch with running back Boston Scott, who added another 110 yards on the ground to round out the offensive attack that simply took what SMU gave them up-and-down the field.

Skip Holtz’ defense was the real star of the show though, looking a good two steps faster than their opponents despite limping in with a .500 record as a team. Amik Robertson hauled in a 45 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter while teammate Darryl Lewis followed things up with a 23 yard pick-six of his own in the second quarter as the Tech defense would have nearly won the game on their own even without their offense putting up points a plenty.

On the flip side, it appeared that SMU starter Ben Hicks spent too much of the bowl prep explaining the offense to his new head coach and not enough time getting ready for the game itself. The quarterback would up with three interceptions on the night (after tossing just nine all year) and needed several late drives to finish with 127 yards and a score. His inability to throw the ball to the right team hampered the send off of star wideout Courtland Sutton before he left for the NFL, though the latter did manage 68 yards on the night against some pretty tight coverage.

Louisiana native Trey Quinn also caught eight passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards to lead the team on the ground in a very forgettable postseason return.

It wasn’t how any of them imagined things unfolding just up the road in the Dallas suburb of Frisco on Wednesday night though. Instead, just about everything went the way of Louisiana Tech as they gave their old coach from just a few years ago a rude introduction to his SMU tenure after a wild day of emotions for many in college football.

Turnovers help Louisiana Tech to big halftime lead in the Frisco Bowl over SMU

Getty Images
1 Comment

The first play of the Sonny Dykes era at SMU? A fumble. The Mustangs then followed that up with an interceptions on their next drive… and then another that turned into a pick-six after that. They would throw another to open the second quarter for good measure.

Safe to say that is not how the team and their new head coach envisioned things going at the Frisco Bowl on Wednesday night, as the team just down the Dallas Tollway from the stadium where the game takes place trailed 42-10 at halftime thanks to five turnovers to Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldogs managed to take a three-score lead after the first quarter thanks in part to those turnovers — and would have made it a full three touchdown margin had they not shanked a short field goal on the first drive. Either way, quarterback J’Mar Smith finished the half with 131 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air while also punching it in on a fourth and inches at the goal line as well. His and running back Boston Scott’s numbers were far from gaudy in terms of yardage but they certainly did the trick given the short fields and easy chances to score against a defense that missed several tackles early on and couldn’t cover anybody in the secondary.

While Skip Holtz’ side was having a grand ol’ time in the game as they seek their seventh win of the year, the same could not be said for the Mustangs as they play their first game with a somewhat makeshift staff that took over just eight days ago. Signal-caller Ben Hicks might want to burn the tape of this game after throwing three interceptions in the first half (two that went for touchdowns… to LaTech) and 105 yards. Top wideouts Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn combined for 10 receptions and a score, while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards but it didn’t make much of a dint in the scoreboard thanks to a whopping five turnovers.

To make matters even worse the Bulldogs get the ball to start the third quarter.

If SMU winds up coming back to win this one, it might be one of the biggest comebacks ever given how they started this game. More likely, however, is that they can start engraving Louisiana Tech’s name into the Frisco Bowl trophy and nobody will think twice about doing so.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 20 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 20 bowl menu, which is very thin volume-wise for the second consecutive day but does provide some coach’s past/coach’s present intrigue.

WHO: SMU (7-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (6-6)
WHAT: The inaugural DXL Frisco Bowl
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas
THE LINE: Louisiana Tech, +4
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

CFT Previews: DXL Frisco Bowl

Getty Images
1 Comment

WHO: SMU (7-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (6-6)
WHAT: The inaugural DXL Frisco Bowl
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas
THE SKINNY: Two teams that are a combined one game above .500, one of whom has already lost its coaching staff, playing in a bowl game that did not exist a year ago in a nondescript suburb whose greatest tourist destination is a mall. In other words, the DXL Frisco Bowl is the perfect 2017 bowl game.

You know about SMU by now. Head coach Chad Morris left for Arkansas and interim head coach Jeff Traylor also left for Arkansas, which means new head coach Sonny Dykes will coach the Mustangs a week and a half after taking the job. This means that graduate assistant G.J. Kinne will call plays, with heavy game-planning input from quarterback Ben Hicks.

SMU should be fine on offense; they ranked 16th nationally in yards per play and eighth in scoring at 40.2 points per game. The problem, though, is that SMU still has its same defense. The Ponies ranked 113th in scoring defense at 35.5 points per game. SMU hasn’t held an opponent under 30 points since Oct. 21 and gave up 44.5 points a game over the course of a 1-3 November that would have seen the club go 0-4 if not for a favorable ruling that preserved a 41-38 win over Tulane on the season’s final Saturday.

Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is led by Dykes’s replacement Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs ended a streak of three consecutive 9-win seasons and two straight Conference USA West Division championships as its offense fell from second to 62nd in scoring. Louisiana Tech’s defense did climb from 97th to 66th in scoring, but the net change saw an average score go from 44-34 in Louisiana Tech’s favor in 2016 to a 29-27 score this fall. The Bulldogs’ 6-6 record included a 1-6 mark against bowl-bound teams, with the lone win coming by a 23-22 decision over 6-6 Western Kentucky back on Sept. 16.

THE PICK: SMU 38, Louisiana Tech 34