LA Bulldogs looking to turn program around with experienced new coach
The 2013 Louisiana Bulldogs football team is: front row, from left, R.J. Branham, Tristan Castiglia, Drake DeTienne, Brycen Cropp, Austin Rule, Zach Martin, Bricion Ivey. Second row, Jackson Campbell, Elijah Oblinger, Chris Charlton, Dallas Castagna, Cody Brown, Hank Calvin, Chris Wharton. Third row, Cameron Alspaw, Josh Runyon, Michael Davis, Alex Windmiller, Tyler Francis, Davan Lindsay, Gabe Henderson. Fourth row, Matthew Rubino, Dylan Noah, Jose DelaRosa, Zach Richardson, Spencer Brown, Jake Sencenbaugh. Fifth row, Brandon Richards, Rick Love, Lane Rule, Collin Stark. Back row, fromcoaches Matt Smith, Tom Fallert, Ryan Griffin, Head Coach Greg Purdum, Tim Jenkins, Chris Booth, Jason Caimi.
When you’re coming off a 1-9 year with the lone win by forfeit, the only direction to go is up.
That’s where the Louisiana Bulldogs find themselves for the 2013 season, and new Head Coach Greg Purdum knows improvement will only come one game at a time. Purdum knows what it takes to revive a program after spending the last 36 years as a high school and college coach.
“The big thing is we’re trying to create a positive learning environment,” Purdum said. “We’ll try to get better each week and just keep doing what we do.”
Purdum will run a Pro I offense, splitting the backs into gaps for myriad looks to keep the defense honest. He’s looking to improve on last year’s paltry average of 13 points per game.
“It’s what I do,” Purdum said. “It allows us to run multiple types of option plays and when we throw the ball, release it quickly.”
The new coach will emulate the 1985 Bears on the other side of the ball, utilizing Buddy Ryan’s Bear 46 defense. Hopefully, it will cut back tremendously on last year’s dismal average allowing more than 40 points per contest.
“We have tremendous team speed,” which allows Purdum to run the Bear 46. “These kids can run.
“It’s easy to learn, but it’s hard to develop the discipline for guys to stay in their gaps,” Purdum said.
The Bulldogs lost four-year quarterback Greg Pitzer to graduation, but Purdum has come up with a new weapon to replace him.
“Zach Richardson is very athletic, very intelligent and has picked up the offense quickly,” Purdum said of the sophomore.
Senior fullback Austin Rule will bring his experience and power to the lineup. He will also kick off and handle PATs.
“He’s going to be a huge key,” Purdum said. “He likes what we’re doing.”
Senior Brycen Cropp showed flashes of breakaway speed last year and will be back at running back. He will also handle the punting chores.
Richardson’s targets will be returning senior wideout Zach Martin, senior Tristan Castiglia, who has moved from tackle to tight end, and speedy returning junior wide receiver Elijah Oblinger.
“Elijah is an outstanding athlete and will run a lot of motion,” Purdum said. “Tristan is very athletic. Putting him at tight end gives us another good run blocker and a weapon we can throw to.”
The offensive line “has some good-sized guys,” Purdum said. “They understand what we’re doing.”
Sophomore Michael Davis will be a new tackle and bruising returning junior Hank Calvin will play at the other tackle spot.
Big junior Collin Stark will play at one guard spot, with returning junior Rick Love at the other guard position. Returning junior Spencer Brown will anchor the line at center.
Six of the offensive starters will also line up on defense, including Cropp, Oblinger and Martin at defensive back.
Rule will be an inside linebacker, with Davis at outside linebacker and Love on the defensive line.
Returning junior Dallas Castagna will play inside linebacker. Dallas Castagna. Junior Cody Brown will return on the defensive line.
New to the defensive starting lineup will be sophomores Dylan Noah at outside linebacker, Davan Lindsay on the line and Lane Rule at safety.
The Bulldogs will line up on the road against the South Shelby Cardinals at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30.