Just about everything’s new at Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

A new conference, a new coach and a lot of new faces in the lineup.

Those are just a few of the changes in store for Louisiana Tech, which moves from the travel-weary Western Athletic Conference to the revamped Conference USA, a league that will field 14 teams and conduct play in two seven-team divisions in 2013.

Skip Holtz, who spent the past three seasons at South Florida, replaces Sonny Dykes, who left for the Pac-12’s California.

With 88 wins in 13 years as a head coach, Holtz inherits a squad that lost 31 seniors from a team that averaged 51.5 points and 577.9 yards of offense last season.

The Bulldogs lost 17 starters, including eight on offense. Gone is quarterback Colby Cameron (4,147 yards, 31 TDs), four offensive linemen and the Bulldogs’ top three receivers: Quinton Patton, Myles White and Ray Holley. That trio caught a combined 194 passes for 2,494 yards and 20 TDs.

“It’s not only new coaches but a lot of new players as well,” Holtz said. “Losing 31 seniors, which I think has to be probably as many in the country, there’s going to be a tall order to replace them. There’s a lot of new faces, new playbooks, new terminology and new coaches. The biggest challenge right now is getting everyone on the same page and becoming a team as we go through camp.”

But the cupboard isn’t totally bare, especially on offense. Kenneth Dixon, who rushed for 1,197 yards and 27 TDs as a freshman, returns with all-purpose back D.J. Banks, receiver Hunter Lee and running back Tevin King, who averaged 123 yards in three games before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Getting the ball to them will be Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young or redshirt freshman Ryan Higgins.

There will be seven new defensive starters for Tech, which allowed 38.5 points per game in 2012 and then lost eight of its top 10 tacklers.

Cornerback Le’Vander Liggins (50 tackles, two interceptions, 11 passes defended) is the top returning defender. He joins defensive linemen Shakeil Lucas (42 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) and IK Enemkpali (32 tackles, 7.5 TFL, six sacks).