LAFAYETTE — There is no secret as to what Louisiana-Lafayette’s defensive focus will be against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, nor is it a secret what Tech’s offensive focus will be.
Both will be junior running back Kenneth Dixon.
“If you watch those guys on film, I tell you one thing that stands out: They have got a running back,” Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “That guy is phenomenal.
“If you watch (Dixon) against Oklahoma, he is competing until the very end. You can tell he plays very hard, very intense and he is one great pass protector. He is knocking guys down right and left all over the field. If you let him, he’ll get some momentum and will put his team on his back.”
Dixon rushed for just 42 yards against No. 5 Oklahoma last week. His seemingly pedestrian output hasn’t swayed Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz from recognizing the offense will run through Dixon.
“We have to get the ball under his arms,” Holtz said. “We either hand it to him or throw it to him…maybe pitch it to him. We are playing a good defensive football team and the strength is their line. We have to find a way to get (Dixon) moving.”
Dixon said one thing he prides himself on is his pass protection. He said he knows getting the running game going early will be key to opening up the air game.
“Growing up, my dad always asked me, ‘How great are you going to be without the ball?’ That is something I pride myself on,” Dixon said. “I want to block and be great even when I don’t have the ball in my hands.”
Cajuns defensive coordinator James Willis said Dixon is the main priority in Saturday’s game and said the focus will be to get as many guys to the ball as possible.
“With him, the play is never over,” Willis said. “We are going to have to get a lot of hats on the ball and gang tackle him. We have to chase the ball and tackle well. He is a good runner with good vision.”
Dixon said Tech running backs coach Jabbar Juluke has a “no out of bounds rule.” That rule was on display at the end of the first half against Oklahoma when Dixon took a big hit near the sideline and gained 2 yards instead of going out.
“That’s just a rule Coach Juluke has where you have to get those tough yards,” Dixon said. “Sometimes, you will meet your match, but you can’t give up. You can’t let them win. You have to stay physical and make some plays.”
Hudpseth said Dixon was impressive to watch against Oklahoma and said if the Cajuns defense doesn’t stop him, eventually he will hurt them.
“If you let him keep pounding it, sooner or later that guy will pop one,” Hudspeth said. “He did it against Oklahoma a couple times, too, against a very good defense. He’s so physical in the pass protections, whether he’s blocking off the edge, turning an end or picking up somebody on a chip block, that guy brings it.”
Dixon said getting praise from Hudseth or any opposition doesn’t make him feel any type of way. He said regardless of acclaim or criticism, he will compete on Saturday all the same.
“When I go out, I only have one speed,” Dixon said. “I am giving it all I got.”