Date: Saturday, October 12, 2019
Kickoff Time: 6 p.m. CT
Location: Ruston, Louisiana
Stadium: Joe Aillet Stadium
Series Record: La Tech leads 1-0
Betting Line: La Tech -32.0
The Bulldogs (4-1) enter Saturday’s contest off a bye week, while the Minutemen (1-5) suffered a 44-0 loss to FIU last weekend. Tech is heavily favored to win its fifth consecutive game, but head coach Skip Holtz says the team still has to go out and earn victory.
“The lesson that we’ve learned in two games where we were highly favored in Grambling and Rice are arguably two of our worst football games as a team,” Holtz said. “Now, we found a way to win, but arguably two of our worst games… Regardless of what anybody’s saying, each and every week you have to go out and win, and people don’t give those away.”
Tech is only averaging about six to seven more points per game than UMass, but the Bulldog offense is averaging roughly 150 more yards per game. Tech also has a defensive edge, allowing just 23.4 points per game to UMass’s 46.7.
UMass has rotated through multiple quarterbacks this season. Randall West, Andrew Brito and Michael Curtis have shared the load fairly evenly through the Minutemen’s first six games. Brito is coming back from a concussion and isn’t on the depth chart for this week, but there’s still a chance he could return.
Curtis is slated to start against Tech, which will be his third consecutive start. His first appearance this season was UMass’s lone win over Akron, but he also started in the shutout loss to FIU. Curtis is 22/50 this season for 239 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has 16 rushes for 84 yards and a touchdown.
A particular area of weakness for the Minutemen is their rushing defense. UMass allows an average of 244 rushing yards per game. Tech would be smart to feed the running backs.
Justin Henderson is the leading back for the Bulldogs with 341 yards and five touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns came against the team that just demolished UMass last week. Jaqwis Dancy adds 195 yards and two touchdowns. Israel Tucker, the original starter at running back who has missed the past several games, is back on the depth chart this week.
While Tech will probably throw the ball a fair bit because that’s what Tech does, don’t be surprised if the running game gets going, as well.
Tech’s last appearance was a 23-20 overtime win at Rice. The Bulldogs struggled on offense, but they’ve had two weeks to work on it. UMass will be playing its seventh consecutive game before finally getting a week off after the Tech game.
The Bulldogs are the better team on paper and will be better rested. If they perform to their potential, this game shouldn’t be close. However, Tech has had games where that hasn’t happened. It will be up to this team to go out and execute. If the Bulldogs are unable to do that, it could be a repeat of the Grambling or Rice situations.
UMass will be hungry for a win, so Tech can’t get caught napping.