CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tony Petersen's opening month as Louisiana Tech's offensive coordinator isn't going quite as planned. With that, the Bulldogs were outbarked by Tulane 24-15 in their first-ever Conference USA game Thursday night.The Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1) forced four turnovers and had five sacks, but their offense didn't score a touchdown until there was 3:45 left in the game. The hosts gained only 295 total yards, with two quarterbacks completing just 16 of 44 passes."Offensively it was hard to watch," said new Tech coach Skip Holtz. "Offensively, I apologize to the people that had to sit there and watch, because it was hard to watch. When you are about 20 percent on third down, and I do not know what we were throwing the ball, but it certainly was not good."Holtz came to Ruston to replace Sonny Dykes, who took the vacant California job. Holtz hired Petersen from Marshall, where he served as quarterback coach with a "co-coordinator" title. Petersen had to cope with the loss of many seniors, including quarterback Colby Cameron.
It hasn't been easy. The Bulldogs' only win was at home against Lamar, and that was just 27-14. The lead closed to 17-14 until Tech pulled away.Neither of the West Division teams plays Marshall this fall.nn
The Marshall-Ohio game should be the day's second-most interesting game of the C-USA day. The fun begins at noon, when East Carolina hosts Virginia Tech.There are many angles to that game, which will draw a full and rowdy crowd to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C. For one, Marshall plays at Virginia Tech next week; second, the Pirates and the Thundering Herd (2-0) are the only undefeated teams in the league.ECU (2-0, 1-0) is taking on three Atlantic Coast Conference teams this fall. After today, the Pirates take a week off and then play at North Carolina, and later play at North Carolina State on Nov. 23. The Pirates faced those three in 2010, beating N.C. State.
Shane Carden has taken the early league lead in passing, both in yards (319.0 per game) and efficiency rating (176.8). Marshall's Rakeem Cato, whose load has been lightened by routs, is fifth in both categories (241.5 yards, 155.4 rating).Around the USAAs of Monday, Tech had sold 6,555 season tickets, surpassing last year's record of 6,411 - and this year's slate doesn't include a game on par with last year's Texas A&M game in Shreveport. Thursday's night's "Red-Out" attendance was 22,035.Tulane's Cairo Santos began his defense of the Lou Groza Award (place-kicker of the year) with a 51-yard field goal Thursday. He has hit 25 field goals in a row, five short of the NCAA record.Texas-San Antonio couldn't keep up with Oklahoma State last week, but did draw 40,977 to the Alamodome. That's the second-highest in the league until today, behind the 44,597 that witnessed Old Dominion at ECU.
The Roadrunners lost to the Cowboys 56-35 and won't find the going any easier tonight, as they play at Arizona.Middle Tennessee takes on C-USA defector Memphis, and the Blue Raiders are looking for their fourth win in the last five meetings with the Tigers. Last year, MTSU won 48-30.Other games today involving C-USA teams on the Herd's schedule: Florida International gets what might be a rare chance for victory against Bethune-Cookman; Tulsa tries to tackle 13th-ranked Oklahoma; Southern Mississippi's winless streak could go to 15 at Arkansas; and Florida Atlantic travels to dysfunctional South Florida. (The Bulls lost 53-21 to McNeese State two weeks ago.)Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.