By Ashley Springer, Louisiana Tech Associate Director of Strategic Communications
RUSTON – The Louisiana Tech quarterback room has been one to keep an eye on in fall camp.
Three Bulldogs have competed for the starting job in the season-opener at Mississippi State on Saturday, Sept. 4.
“All of the quarterbacks have rolled with ones,” head coach Skip Holtz said. “All of them have rolled with the twos and all of them have rolled with the threes.
“You have a new quarterback in Austin Kendall who is learning the system. He’s done an excellent job with the short amount of time he’s had. Certainly the newness sometimes shows up like, ‘Oh, I have to turn the other way’ and little mistakes. He has a lot of thinking going on. If Austin’s the guy, we’ll have to build the offense around him a little bit with him being here a short time.
“Aaron (Allen) and JD (Head) have both done a great job and both had good camps. We’ve got three quarterbacks we could play with right now. We’re just going to have to make a decision as we come out of Saturday on who the starter is going to be and start to put the depth chart together.”
Louisiana Tech returns three quarterbacks from the 2020 campaign in graduate Luke Anthony, sophomore Allen and freshman Head.
Anthony is recovering from a season-ending injury in the Dec. 12 contest at TCU. Anthony, the 2020 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year, played in nine games and made eight starts for the Bulldogs in the 2020 campaign.
The Dallas native completed 138-of-221 passes for 1,479 yards and 16 touchdowns. Anthony was the third Bulldog quarterback in program history to throw at least 10 touchdown passes through the first three games of the season.
He finished the 2020 season ranked fourth in C-USA in passing efficiency (138.0), sixth in passing average per game (164.3) and ninth in total offense (157.9). Anthony was named to the 2021 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Preseason Watch List.
Allen saw action in all 10 games, including two starts, during the 2020 season. The Missouri City, Texas, native completed 73-of-121 passes on the season for 602 yards and four.
Allen completed at least three passes in all 10 games and had double-digit passes in three games during the 2020 campaign. He had a season-high 18 completions on 26 passes for a career-high 191 yards and a season-best two touchdowns with zero interceptions in the comeback victory over UAB on Oct. 31.
“The quarterback competition has been really good so far,” Allen said. “We come out every day and compete and critique each other on what everybody needs to work on. It’s been going really good so far.”
Head appeared in the last two games of the 2020 season. The Pearland, Texas, native was 9-for-14 passing for 78 yards. His longest pass of the season went for 20 yards to Tre Harris against Georgia Southern at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 23.
“This fall camp has been awesome,” Head said. “All three quarterbacks have been battling it out and really competing. Not only competing, but also helping each other. We all want to see each other doing really good. I can’t complain about anything. I’m having a great time with the guys and having a great fall camp experience.”
The Bulldogs signed graduate transfer Kendall in July. A native of Waxhaw, N.C., Kendall played at Oklahoma for three seasons before transferring to West Virginia the past two campaigns.
At WVU, Kendall appeared in 11 games where he threw for 2,153 yards and 14 touchdowns. During the 2019 campaign, Kendall started in nine games, completing 187-of-304 passes for 1,989 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He ranked No. 24 nationally and fourth in the Big 12 in completions per game (20.8). Kendall also finished the season ranked seventh in the Big 12 in passing yards per game (221.0). At Oklahoma from 2016-18, Kendall threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 28-of-39 passes with zero interceptions during his Sooner career.
“Fall camp has been good,” Kendall said. “We have a good group of quarterbacks with Aaron, JD and Caleb. Then Luke Anthony, I really appreciate him. He’s helped me a long way as far as learning the offense and certain reads because he’s been in the system for a year-and-a-half now. He’s been a lot of help to me as well as coach Sloan and the rest of the quarterbacks.”
Rounding out the quarterback meeting room is freshman Caleb Holstein. The Lafayette native graduated from St. Thomas More Catholic High School in 2020. He accumulated a 33-6 record during his high school football career, completing 634-of-965 passes for 9,519 total yards and 106 touchdowns.
Louisiana Tech opens the 2021 season at Mississippi State on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. Tech will then open a three-game home stretch against Southeastern on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. inside Joe Aillet Stadium.
— Featured photo by MaKenzie Owens