No. 24 La. Tech brings powerful offense to NMSU

No. 24 La. Tech brings powerful offense to NMSU

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes knows it's one thing to make it into the Top 25 and it's quite another to stay there.

That's because twice previously, the No. 24 Bulldogs found national recognition, only to lose the next game and drop out of the poll.

He doesn't want to make it a third Saturday when Louisiana Tech faces reeling Western Athletic Conference foe New Mexico State, a squad that has lost six straight games.

``As I have said many times, you do not want to be a one-hit wonder,'' Dykes said. ``Last time we got in the polls, we did not handle it very well and did not play well against Texas A&M and got beat because of it. Hopefully, it will be a challenge for us and we will handle it better.''

The Bulldogs (6-1, 1-0) are an offensive dynamo, having scored at least 44 points in every game and are averaging 56.

``I do think this group is good,'' Dykes said. ``I think the thing that makes this different than what we have had in the past in some ways is the fact that we run the ball well and we throw it pretty well.''

That's something of an understatement. Quarterback Colby Cameron has thrown for 2,306 yards and 20 touchdowns without an interception. He's coming off consecutive games with more than 400 yards through the air.

Freshman running back Kenneth Dixon, who is coming off a six-touchdown, 232-yard day against Idaho, has 767 yards on the season with 16 scores.

Quinton Patton is the Bulldogs' go-to receiver with 59 catches for 806 yards and 10 TDs.

``Usually you have an offense that is better at throwing or a little bit better at running, and this group is pretty good at doing both,'' Dykes said. ``So I think that is what makes this group unique maybe.''

It's an offensive juggernaut that has New Mexico State coach Dwayne Walker worried.

``Pretty scary,'' said Walker, whose Aggies' defense is giving up 451 yards a game. ``These guys aren't going to allow us to get a lot of sleep this week.''

Defensively, Dykes hasn't been quite as pleased. Louisiana Tech is giving up 38 points a game and more than 500 yards of total offense.

``I think if you go and look at our defense this year compared to last year's defense, I think the biggest issue has been just giving up too many third-down conversions,'' he said. ``We have given up probably too many big plays, but the third-down conversions have been a big thing we wanted to do, so again, we are going to continue to work on that and improve that area.''

And moving the ball is one thing that New Mexico State does well, Dykes said.

``They have an explosive football team,'' he pointed out. ``That is the thing every year. They have good skill position players. Their receivers can always run well.''

Quarterback Andrew Manley has thrown for 1,807 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Austin Franklin is Manley's favorite receiver with 50 catches for 826 yards and eight touchdowns.

``I think the quarterback, Manley, and the receivers and running backs are a really good group - probably toward the upper half in the WAC, certainly,'' Dykes said. ``The quarterback has a big arm and can make a lot of throws.''

The Aggies will need the offense to be at the top of its game to have a chance, Walker said.

Louisiana Tech has ``a chance to win out and get a chance to be 11-1 and really start emerging as the top mid-level team in the country,'' he said. ``We definitely have our hands full with this group.''

Quick Links

Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

USA Today Sports Images

Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

For a long time, Major League Baseball had the best, most exciting trade deadline among the four major sports. In recent seasons, that excitement has been eclipsed by the popularity of the NBA, but baseball still stands ahead of football and hockey in terms of in-season movement.

In an effort to shake things up a bit, baseball’s trade deadline underwent some changes in the offseason.

Notably, while July 31 has always been deadline day, in past years it was a bit of a misnomer. July 31 was technically just the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline in years past. The month of August has always allowed trades to be made as long as players pass through waivers. If a player is claimed off waivers, his team can either pull him back, let him go for nothing, or negotiate a deal with his claiming team only.

This obviously made for much more limited movement in August, but it was always an option. 

Not anymore. Now? July 31 the *only* deadline.

The August revocable waivers trade deadline was always a bit convoluted, and it never made much sense to have more than one deadline. So it’s logical to think the powers that be would want to simplify things for the league.

Reportedly, Major League Baseball is hoping the change will not only help simplify in-season moves, but also help jumpstart offseason activity. The thinking is if teams have even just one fewer option to improve their roster midseason, then contenders will be forced to get aggressive in the offseason.

It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition, but one forthcoming change does seem pretty obvious. The singular trade deadline should make for a much more active July.

Both buyers and sellers have to commit to a direction earlier in the season now. Last year, for example, the Nationals executed their mini-firesale in mid-August, once it had become clear they were not going to compete for the postseason. At the end of the July they were still undecided, which is why they held onto Bryce Harper.

Considering how long it can take major deals to come together, teams have to essentially decide by the All-Star break if they are in or out on competing for October. It will be especially difficult for teams to read the writing on the wall when they are hovering around .500.

As of this writing, there are 10 teams within six games of .500 in either direction, and that doesn’t include organizations like the Red Sox, Nationals and Athletics who have quality records but are way behind runaway division leaders. Will they want to trade away controllable assets for a shot at a one-game Wild Card berth?

General Managers who can forecast their team’s likelihood of competing, and respond accordingly, will be rewarded under the new system. Orioles GM Mike Elias already began his team’s sell-off, trading Andrew Cashner away weeks before the end of July. By contrast, in 2018 both Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman were moved by the Orioles with under an hour to go on deadline day.

It’s hard to perfectly predict all the ways rule changes can affect a sport, but in the case of the singular trade deadline, it’s obvious that teams are now required to commit earlier, with fewer games of information from which to work.

That’s exciting for a sport that could use some more player movement-related excitement.


Quick Links

Summer Guide: The top restaurants and bars for before and after Baltimore Orioles games

Summer Guide: The top restaurants and bars for before and after Baltimore Orioles games

Last summer, NBC Sports Washington put together guides that detailed the best bars and restaurants to watch the Capitals' Stanley Cup run and FIFA World Cup. Earlier this summer we gave you some spots around Nationals Park too.

With summer 2019 halfway through and baseball in full swing, it's time to highlight the go-to spots to eat and drink around the ballpark that forever changed baseball. 

In no particular order, consider these: 

Pickles Pub, 520 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • Always packed, it's the number one go-to bar for Orioles fans before and after the games 
  • A dozen beers on tap, both local and national brands
  • Great deals throughout baseball season

Sliders Bar and Grille, 504 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Another bar adjacent to Camden Yards
  • Less crowded than Pickles, but just as good when it comes to snacks and drinks
  • Bottle, canned, and draft beer options
  • Gameday specials built around the Orioles season

Abbey Burger Bistro, 1041 Marshall St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • A bit further (about a mile walk) but well worth it
  • Famous for, you guessed it, their wide selection of crafted hamburgers
  • Endorsed by Oriole legend Adam Jones, who even created a burger for their menu
  • Also make spiked milkshakes for adults looking to cool off with a tasty treat

The Yard, 110 S Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Inside the Marriott Inner Harbor 
  • Quieter, less-crowded option compared to more popular pregame locations
  • Crab-based breakfast options for fans looking for an early start

Camden Pub, 647 W. Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Two blocks from Camden Yards
  • Special discounts with game tickets
  • Variety of food options, including well-known wings

Quigley's Half Irish Pub, 633 Portland St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Federal Hill location, a block away from the stadium
  • Another less-crowded option, with standard bar fare
  • Just as likely to host baseball fans and neighborhood regulars alike

Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Three blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards 
  • Dozens of beer options, plus signature cocktails and wine choices aplenty
  • Well-known nightlife spot for postgame celebrations

Seafood Options:

L.P. Steamers, 1100 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Have to drive instead of walk (9 minutes by car)
  • Considered a go-to spot for Maryland-style seafood 
  • Mentioned specifically by Manny Machado upon his return to Baltimore

Phillips Seafood, 601 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

  • 20-minute walk to Camden Yards, right in the heart of the Inner Harbor
  • Huge letters outside the building a part of the local skyline
  • Famous for their crabcakes, but serve all kinds of seafood and non-seafood options

Rusty Scupper, 402 Key Highway, Inner Harbor Marina, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Another slightly further, pricier option for local seafood
  • Beautiful view right on the water
  • Live patio entertainment
  • Happy hour from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday

Postgame Dessert Options:

Insomnia Cookies, Federal Hill, 1059 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • 20-minute walk from the stadium
  • Wide variety of deluxe cookie options, plus brownies, ice cream, cake and dessert sandwiches
  • Open until 3 a.m. every night

Polar Roll Creamery, 600 E Pratt St Suite 105, Baltimore, MD 21202

  • 20-minutes from Camden Yards, on the Inner Harbor 
  • Rolled ice cream
  • Watch yourserver roll the ice cream in front of you