Armed Forces Bowl grades: Louisiana Tech receiving corps puts on show

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from Louisiana Tech's 48-45 victory over Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl.

| 6 months ago
Carlos Henderson

(John Weast/Getty Images)

Armed Forces Bowl grades: Louisiana Tech receiving corps puts on show


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 48, Navy Midshipmen 45

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Bulldogs’ 48-45 victory over Navy in the 2016 Armed Forced Bowl.

Louisiana Tech

Quarterback grade: Ryan Higgins, 70.0

Higgins big arm leads Bulldogs

Louisiana Tech QB Ryan Higgins completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 409 yards with four touchdowns and two dropped passes. Higgins was three of six on passes thrown under pressure for 72 yards, while completing two of his three pass attempts downfield of 20 yards or more for 92 yards and a touchdown on such deep targets. Louisiana Tech’s QB used play action with great success, going five of five for 124 yards and two touchdowns on play-action passes. Higgins’ clutch throws down the stretch were the difference in the game.

Ryan Higgins vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

WR Carlos Henderson, 92.6

WR Trent Taylor, 82.2

C Joseph Brunson, 77.7

HB Boston Scott, 71.0

QB Ryan Higgins, 70.0

Louisiana Tech’s receivers put on a show

Carlos Henderson was the most explosive player on the field in the Armed Forces Bowl. Henderson caught all 10 catchable passes thrown his way for 129 yards and two touchdowns. It was his ability to turn catches on short routes into big gains that was so impressive. Henderson also had an amazing grab for a touchdown on an end-zone fade late in the fourth quarter. WR Trent Taylor was nearly unstoppable working in the slot, catching 12 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

Top defensive grades:

DI Aaron Brown, 77.6

DI Jordan Bradford, 73.9

ED Matthew Ydarraga, 72.9

S Elliot Blankenship, 71.9

DI Keonatye Garner, 69.2

LA Tech’s defense stretched thin by Midshipmen rushing attack

Navy’s triple-option run scheme got the better of the Bulldogs’ defense most of the game. Louisiana Tech did come out on top, however, and the solid performances of a few defensive players stuck out in the game. DT Aaron Brown made two tackles and two stops, while DT Jordan Bradford contributed a tackle and stop as the interior of the Bulldogs’ run defense won its fair share of battles up front.

Navy

Quarterback grade: Zach Abbey, 60.7

Abbey shows progress in second start

Navy quarterback Zach Abbey completed 7 of his 12 pass attempts for 158 yards and touchdown. Abbey was one of four on passes of 20 yards or more downfield for 64 yards on deep targets. He used play action on nine of his pass attempts, completing four of those targets for 132 yards. Abbey’s true effectiveness came in the running game, as he operated the triple-option offense to a big day.

Zach Abey vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

FB Dishan Romine, 80.5

C Parker Wade, 71.6

FB Tre Walker, 70.9

WR Jamir Tillman, 70.8

C Maurice Morris, 67.8

Navy’s offense finds rhythm

Navy fullback Dishan Ronnie forced a missed tackle on three carries when rushing the ball, and produced two runs of 15 yards or more. The Midshipmen offense had a consistent performance, and the triple-option scheme gave the Louisiana Tech defense a difficult time.

Top defensive grades:

LB Micah Thomas, 82.3

DI Jackson Pittman, 75.9

DI Jarvis Polu, 75.3

CB Justin Norton, 73.2

DI Amos Mason, 71.7

Navy’s secondary has tough day

The story of the game was Navy’s inability to cover and tackle Louisiana Tech’s receivers in the open field. Midshipmen LB Micah Thomas had a nice game, however, with five tackles and three stops in run defense. Navy’s defense forced a turnover to shift momentum in the game, but as a whole, it was not a good day for the Navy defense, as it finished with 18 missed tackles.

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. 

| Analyst

Taylor is an offensive line and run-game specialist at Pro Football Focus. He has coached at every level of college football, with experience at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Central Missouri, and Wyoming.

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