LOUISIANA TECH vs. GEORGIA SOUTHERN — NEW ORLEANS BOWL
Skip Holtz faced a challenging season at Louisiana Tech, having to replace J’Mar Smith, a three-year starter at quarterback, and fill the graduation gaps in a defense that blanked Miami in the Independence Bowl last Dec. 26.
Resourceful as ever, however, Holtz cobbled together a bowl-eligible squad (even by normal bowl standards) with a 5-4 record. He mixed and matched as needed, with Abilene Christian transfer Luke Anthony and holdover Aaron Allen eventually splitting snaps at quarterback late in the season as the Bulldogs overcame numerous COVID-19-related postponements and cancellations.
The high-water mark was a Halloween upset win over eventual Conference USA champion UAB, yet another notch in Holtz’s belt as an underdog, a role in which he has enjoyed consistent success (21-11-1) since arriving in Ruston.
True, the Bulldogs were humbled by a superior TCU squad in the regular-season finale. But Georgia Southern doesn’t have the firepower that the Horned Frogs have.
The Eagles deserve credit for completing a 12-game regular season, the only team in the country to do so in the year of COVID-19. But Eagles quarterback Shai Werts missed the last two games with an injury to his throwing shoulder, and their spread offense didn’t operate as effectively without him. Georgia Southern hopes Werts will play, but even if he does, his durability will be a concern.