LA Tech football holds final practice before Spring game - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

LA Tech football holds final practice before Spring game

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RUSTON, LA (KSLA/Louisiana Tech Sports Information) -

Louisiana Tech held its final practice before  Saturday's T-Day Spring Game with a two-hour session in full pads on the Tech Practice Fields Wednesday.

The session marked the 14th practice of the spring with the 15th coming in the form of the T-Day Spring Game that will kick off at 1 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday.

Wednesday's session included final tune-ups for the team heading into the spring game that featured high-energy work from both sides of the ball.

"It was a pretty spirited practice," head coach Skip Holtz said. "For coming out here for the last one – we've talked about it before that there is a lot of emotion at the beginning of spring practice and a lot of emotion at the end – to get some of the quality individual work that we get and to get the good team work, I think we need every snap of it. With so many new guys on our offensive line, our quarterbacks, receivers and defensive linemen, I think it is invaluable for those guys that haven't played in the past."

That spirited practice was led by big plays on both sides of the ball including an impressive run up the middle by Kenneth Dixon and two interceptions by Xavier Woods.

"Xavier Woods has had a great spring," safeties coach Blake Baker said of the rising sophomore. "He is a student of the game and works at it both on and off the field. I can say that about all four of the guys – Xavier Woods, Kentrell Brice, Lloyd Grogan and Thomas McDonald. All those guys are blessed with good speed, good instincts, good ball skills and it has been really encouraging."

The play of the safeties will be joined by plenty of experience at the corner to make Louisiana Tech's secondary a tough group for opponents to get past this fall.

"Looking up there Adairius Barnes is a junior, Le'Vander Liggins is a senior, Bryson Abraham is a junior, [Thomas] McDonald is a senior, Terrell Pinson is a senior, Kentrell Brice is a junior, there are a lot of guys that have some experience," Holtz said of the secondary. "Their carryover, leadership and confidence has showed up this entire spring. A year ago, we didn't have any depth [in the secondary] whereas this year we have a lot more of it."

As the team winds down on spring practice, the coaching staff is looking to see which players will step up and compete in a game-like situation.

"With so many new faces, I want to see them go out there and compete," Holtz said. "We are going to draft teams to create a little bit of excitement with the players and it ought to be a great show for anybody that wants to come out and see the team. I want to see them line up and compete. This is not going to be a scheme scrimmage; you are going to have one and twos with everyone mixed in and playing together. There will be scholarship players mixed with walk-ons and I just want to see everybody go out there and compete, execute the play called on both sides of the ball and be able to be productive."

The biggest thing the players will gain in the form of experience will be playing in front of a crowd Saturday, something most players haven't done since last November at UTSA and several first-year players have not done at all on the collegiate level.

"We can come out here and practice all we want but until you go in that locker room, have a game-like atmosphere, have a pregame, go in the stadium with people in the stands, go out on the field with officials and chains, you can't simulate that," Holtz said of the game-like atmosphere. "With some of the new rules we can meet with the players throughout the course of the summer and do some things, we can simulate a lot of things but I can't simulate people in the stands until we get to Oklahoma on the road. For so many guys that are playing for the first time, every rep we can get in front of people is going to be a positive."

Gates at Joe Aillet Stadium will open at 11 a.m. Saturday with only the Northwest gates of the stadium being open to the public. The T-Day Spring Game will kick off at 1 p.m. and halftime of the game will feature a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new South End Zone facility as part of the University's Quest for Excellence capital campaign. Fans unable to make it to Ruston can watch the groundbreaking LIVE on LA Tech All-Access; however, the game will not be broadcasted.

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