August 19, 2011

Isham impresses in scrimmage

RUSTON, La. - He may be only a true freshman, but Nick Isham made his case to be the starting quarterback for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Friday night in the first scrimmage of the year.

The California native was impressive leading the second-team offense for most of the game down the field, including three touchdowns in the first half.

Isham was one of the bright spots in the scrimmage Friday afternoon as Head Coach Sonny Dykes said he was happy with several things that he saw throughout the night.

"I thought it was good," Dykes said. "What I liked about it was I thought defensively that we came out and flew around the ball especially early on. We really played well. What I liked also was that the offense kind of responded and came back and made some plays in the second half. That is what we have to do.

"We have to have enough confidence in ourselves when things aren't going good. We have to learn to keep the pressure on people when you have the opportunity to get them down, but really I thought we did a lot of good things so I was pleased. We had a ding here and there, but we came out of the scrimmage injury-free. I was really pleased with what I saw tonight."

Stressing to try and implement the fast-tempo offense early on, Dykes said he was pleased how his offense responded after struggling through the first couple of series.

"That take a little time to get firing at the rate you want to be firing at," Dykes said of his fast-tempo offense. "We have to speed up our offensive attack time-wise. Overall I thought we did pretty well. The great thing about that type of offense is that once you get on a roll that it is hard to stop. Maybe too many negative plays at times, but overall I was pleased."

With a two-person battle between Isham and junior Colby Cameron for the starting job throughout the fall camp, Dykes said both players had their moments of being impressive.

"I thought that they both did some good things," Dykes said of his quarterbacks. "And I also thought [redshirt freshman] Taylor Burch did some good things as well. It is hard to tell right now on the field. We will go back and look at the tape. The one good thing is that there competition at that spot and that only makes your kids play better."

For the fans in the stands, Isham did look the most impressive under center as he led the Bulldogs to multiple scores, including the three-touchdown first half.

"Nick looked good," Dykes said. "He looked tonight like he has looked at practice. He can move this football team. I don't know why, but it seems like when it is 3rd and 10 he makes the ten yards. That is kind of what he has done all camp long. He is a guy that has got a lot of intangibles. That is why we recruited him.

"We dang sure did not recruit him because he looked liked an NFL quarterback because he doesn't. We recruited him because he is a good football player and the good thing about him is Drew Brees doesn't look like an NFL quarterback either."

Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin said he was pleased with the play of both quarterbacks as well, but admitted Isham did have moments of surprising success.

"We run a rhythm offense and you have to get first downs to get into a rhythm," Franklin said. "Early on in the scrimmage we did some stuff that we hadn't done. We didn't look great early, but once he got a rhythm we started getting things going and moving the football. Guys started making plays. We were in rhythm and guys started feeling good about themselves and they finished drives.

"Nick did look good. He is a special player that has good leadership skills and had good physical skills as well. He is simply a good football player. He doesn't think of himself as a freshman, he thinks of himself as a football player. He comes out and walks on the field and works hard. That in turn makes the rest of his teammates offensively work hard too. Add to that the fact that he has buried himself in the film room late at night too and he is going to make himself a good football player. It's a great competition that we are in the middle of right now."

While he would like to have a starter already named, Franklin said the competition between his quarterbacks in the end will make Tech a better team as they head into the season.

"It's a really good problem to have honestly," Franklin said. "Both guys (Cameron and Isham) are playing well. It is not an issue of nobody is playing well and you can't pick one of them to play. You have two guys really battling it out, fighting and competing. That is a good problem to have."

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