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Defensive Coaching Staff

Blake Baker
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers

In January 2015, Blake Baker was promoted to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Louisiana Tech after joining the LA Tech family the previous year as the safeties coach.

Baker took over the defensive responsibilities following former coordinator Manny Diaz’s departed for the same position at Mississippi State in January.

In his first season with the Bulldogs, Baker helped lead LA Tech to a 35-18 victory over Illinois in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl and a Conference USA West Division title with a 9-5 overall record in 2014. The Bulldog defense led the nation in 2014 with 26 interceptions and 42 turnovers gained under Baker’s guidance.

Baker came to LA Tech after spending one month at Boise State in a non-coaching role and after helping guide Arkansas State to a Sun Belt Conference co-championship and a GoDaddy Bowl win over Ball State in 2013. He coached a squad that was ranked third in the Sun Belt in scoring defense (26.2 points per game) and third in pass defense (232.9 yards per game). He coached All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team honoree Sterling Young who registered 80 tackles, two interceptions, two pass break-ups and three fumbles recovered on the season.

"I am very excited to have Blake Baker join our staff," Holtz said. "Blake will be a great fit with our staff and University, having worked with [defensive coordinator] Manny Diaz before and having a strong familiarity with the state of Louisiana. He is a tireless worker, whether it is coaching kids on the field to success or recruiting kids to the program. He will be a great asset to our coaching staff and the LA Tech family."

Baker went to A-State after spending 2010 through 2012 as a defensive graduate assistant coach at the University of Texas. He worked closely with the both the Longhorns' linebackers and defensive backs, two position groups that included eight All-Big 12 selections over the last two years. He also helped coach All-American linebacker and Lott Trophy finalist Emmanuel Acho and cornerback Quandre Diggs, the 2011 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

He was a part of the Texas coaching staff in 2011 that led the Longhorns to a No. 11 national ranking in total defense, yielding just 306.8 yards per game. The 2011 Longhorns' defense also ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation in rush defense (96.2 ypg), pass efficiency defense (111.0) and tackles for loss (7.4 pg).

Texas won 17 games in Baker's two years on the coaching staff, including a 21-10 victory over California in the 2011 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl and a 31-27 win against Oregon State in the 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl. Baker not only worked with Harsin the last two years at Texas, but also with current Longhorns head coach Mack Brown and Florida head coach Will Muschamp during his tenure at the school.

Prior to joining the Texas staff, Baker spent the 2009 season as a wide receivers coach at Clear Springs High School in Houston, Texas, before taking over duties as linebackers coach the following spring.

The Houston native was a four-year letterman and three-year starter at Tulane from 2000-04, helping lead the Green Wave to a win in the 2002 Hawaii Bowl.  He earned his bachelor's degree from Tulane in 2008.

Baker is married to the former Roslyn Jones of Mandeville, La., and the couple has one daughter.

 

Rick Petri
Defensive Line

Louisiana Tech head football coach Skip Holtz announced in early 2015 that Rick Petri has joined the staff as the team's new defensive line coach. Petri joined the LA Tech family after holding the same position at Duke the last four years.

This marks Petri's second stint at Louisiana Tech after serving on the Bulldogs staff in 1992, the program's fourth season in Division I-A (now FBS). That season LA Tech opened the season with a 10-9 win at Baylor and finished the year with an undefeated record at home.

"It is exciting to come back to Louisiana Tech," Petri said. "My wife and I both have fond memories of our time here - even though a few years have passed - and it is always exciting to come back and see a place where you have been, to see how it has changed for the better and you can easily see the good things that are happening. The staff has been very welcoming and Coach Holtz is obviously one of the best in the business. I am excited to spend some time with him and learn from him because you are always learning and adding to what you do and what you believe in. It is an exciting time for both my wife and me."

Petri joins the Louisiana Tech staff after spending the last four seasons as the defensive line coach at Duke where he helped the Blue Devils to 28 wins over four seasons including the 2013 ACC Coastal Division title and three bowl game appearances.

"Rick brings such a wealth of experience with a number of years coaching in the Southeastern Conference," Holtz said of Petri's arrival in Ruston. "He has turned out numerous players in the NFL and brings a lot of experience that will help many of our upperclassmen continue to elevate their game but, at the same time, help bring along some of our freshmen that we are going to need to contribute as we go forward. I could not be more excited about being able to make this work and have Rick join the LA Tech Family."

A college coaching veteran of over 30 seasons, Petri has made coaching stops at Ole Miss, Miami, South Carolina and Kentucky among others throughout his career. He joins a LA Tech program that is coming off an appearance in the Conference USA Championship Game and a Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl win over Illinois.

"I am fortunate to be coming into a program that is building on accomplished success," said Petri. "This is not an instance where you perceive the success coming in the future, it is already there. Just like the new end zone facility, you see the building coming along and you see the construction taking place. I think it is important that we have a situation where we are already building on that success, not just talking about the type of success we want to have. It is an exciting time to be at Louisiana Tech with being a member of Conference USA, the teams we get to play and the opportunity to recruit quality people. The program is surrounded by quality people, people that enjoy football and want to continue building the program the right way. It is an exciting time to be a Bulldog."

In both 2012 and 2013, Duke's defensive front that was guided by Petri was spearheaded by ends Kenny Anunike and Justin Foxx. Anunike, who led the Blue Devils in sacks in each of his final three seasons, was a two-time All-ACC pick while Foxx, who served as a captain of Duke's ACC Coastal Division championship team in 2013, finished his 45-game career with 152 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.

Anunike, one of just two players in Duke history to lead the Blue Devils in sacks three consecutive seasons, went on to sign a free agent contract with the NFL's Denver Broncos in May of 2014.

In 2011, Petri mentored a youthful Blue Devil defensive front that included just one senior in nose guard Charlie Hatcher, who completed his career with a 30-tackle, two-sack campaign. Petri also tutored Anunike, who was leading the ACC in both sacks and tackles for loss through the first three weeks of the season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Duke's win over Tulane in late September.

Petri served on Cutcliffe's staff at Ole Miss from 1998-04, helping the Rebels to a 44-29 record and four bowl victories. In 2003, Ole Miss went 10-3, captured a share of the SEC Western Division title and defeated Oklahoma State, 31-29, in the Cotton Bowl. While with the Rebels, Petri coached the defensive tackles and tutored a pair of first team All-SEC selections in Kendrick Clancy and Jesse Mitchell. Clancy went on to be a third round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Petri went to Durham after spending the 2010 campaign at ACC member Miami. That year, the Hurricane defensive unit ranked among the league's leaders in pass defense (1st), pass defense efficiency (1st), opponent third down percentage (2nd), opponent first downs (2nd) total defense (3rd), sacks (3rd), and scoring defense (5th). Under Petri's guidance, senior Allen Bailey earned All-ACC honors after leading the Hurricanes in quarterback sacks.

From 2005-09, Petri was on the staff at Kentucky where he helped the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl game appearances that included victories over Clemson (2006 Music City Bowl), Florida State (2007 Music City Bowl) and East Carolina (2009 Liberty Bowl). In Lexington, Petri coached three future draft picks in Myron Pryor (6th round, New England, 2009), Jeremy Jarmon (3rd round, Washington, 2010) and Corey Peters (3rd round, Atlanta, 2010).

A native of St. Louis, Mo., Petri got his start in coaching at Pittsburg State (1977-78). He then spent 10 years on the staff at Arkansas State before a three-year (1989-91) stint at Ole Miss under head coach Billy Brewer (a former Louisiana Tech head coach). During his first stint in Oxford, Petri coached Kelvin Pritchett, who was a first round choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 1991 and spent 14 seasons with the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars.

After one season at Louisiana Tech (1992), he enjoyed three seasons at Miami (1993-95) as the Hurricanes went 27-7, won two BIG EAST championships, finished all three seasons ranked in the Associated Press national poll and played in both the Fiesta and Orange Bowls. In addition, Petri coached three future first round NFL draft choices in Warren Sapp (Tampa Bay, 1995), Kenard Lang (Washington, 1997) and Kenny Holmes (Houston, 1997). Sapp went on to earn NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1999. In 1994, the Hurricanes led the nation in both scoring defense and total defense.

From 1996-98, Petri tutored the defensive ends at South Carolina where he helped develop John Abraham, a first round pick of the New York Jets in the 2000 NFL Draft and multi-year Pro Bowl honoree.

Petri is a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla. He and his wife, Marsha, have two sons, Brad and Kory.

 

Kevin Curtis
Cornerbacks

Kevin Curtis returned to the LA Tech Family in January 2016 after spending three seasons at his alma mater, Texas Tech.

“I am very excited to be back,” Curtis said. “I had a great time in the three years I spent in Ruston earlier and this is like coming home for me. I am looking forward to hitting the ground running and am very thankful to Skip Holtz for the opportunity.”

This marks his second stint in Ruston after serving as cornerbacks coach from 2010 to 2012.

“Kevin brings great energy, experience and a knowledge of Louisiana Tech,” Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz said. “He was a major reason some of our top players in our back-to-back bowl win seasons are at Louisiana Tech. His previous three years in Ruston give him a great background and knowledge of the University and as a talented player at Texas Tech, he knows what it takes to win at the top level. I am really excited to have him return to Ruston and join our staff.”

While in Lubbock, Curtis directed the Red Raider cornerbacks. In 2015, Texas Tech ranked 24th nationally in turnovers gained (25) and 51st in turnover margin (0.15). Jah’Shawn Johnson ranked second in the nation and led the Big 12 Conference while J.J. Gaines ranked seventh nationally and second in the Big 12 in fumbles recovered.

In his first season at Texas Tech, Curtis helped guide the third-best pass defense in the Big 12 Conference.

In his final year in his first stint in Ruston, Curtis guided Le’Vander Liggins to rank fifth in the Western Athletic Conference in interceptions as the Bulldogs posted a nine-win season with back-to-back wins over Illinois and Virginia.

His cornerbacks had anything but a "sophomore slump" in their second year under his direction as Tech's defense ranked third in the nation in both interceptions and pick-sixes. The highlight of those interceptions - and the kick-start to winning at Utah State - was Terry Carter's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown.

In his first season, the Bulldogs tallied 12 interceptions as Ryan Williams led the Tech cornerbacks with two.

Curtis initially joined the LA Tech staff in 2010 after serving two years at Navarro Junior College where he coached the secondary.

While at Navarro, Curtis' teams went 21-2, won two conference championships and were the 2009 C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl champions. Curtis' teams were ranked first in the country in interceptions and had five all-conference honorees while he recruited the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and West Texas areas.

Curtis was a two-time All-American and three-time All-Big 12 safety at Texas Tech, playing for the Red Raiders when Dykes was on the Texas Tech staff. After a successful collegiate career, Curtis was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent three seasons. After one year with the Houston Texans, Curtis played two years as the team captain for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe before returning to the United States to coach.