Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns
The Ragin' Cajuns won three of their final four games last season to secure a bowl bid, where they lost to Southern Miss, 28-21. In case you have not noticed, as of late, the Mark Hudspeth era is not going very well. I would say that he is on the hot seat, but he seems to be the cat with nine lives, although he is running out of them. After a 6-7 finish in 2016, another such season in 2017 may see him really struggle to keep his job.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
There is not much to be excited about offensively for this football team in 2017. We will star at the Tackle spots, where they have two seniors pegged to start in D'Aquin Withrow and Grant Horst. Christian Cederquest may push for time as a junior at LG, while Adrian Goodacre may do the same at RG.

The PK game may be in good hands as well, as Stevie Artigue returns after connecting on 19/24 FG attempts in 2016.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The QB situation was not great last season with LSU transfer Anthony Jennings at the controls, and he is now gone. The projected starter is Jordan Davis, a RS junior who attempted all of three passes last season, and that was in a bad QB group. The only other legitimate answer is sophomore Dion Ray, who attempted one pass last season.

The run game took a big hit in losing Elijah McGuire to graduation. They move on to Darius Hoggins, who carried just 51 times last fall. The good news is that he does possess some explosiveness, as he averaged 5.51 yards per carry. Jordan wright is also back after a 62 yard season, but is more of a plodding kind of back.

The passing game takes an even bigger hit, as experience coming back is not great. Keenan Barnes and Ja'Marcus Bradley are back after combining for 52 receptions last fall, but the experience and talent level drops way off after that, and there is limited to no depth available.

The interior line could be a mess, with three sophomores set to start. There are some upperclassmen behind them, but they provide little in the way of big game experience.

What To Be Excited About: Defense
The front line should provide some punch and pressure this fall with the return of DE Joe Dillon, DT Taboris Lee, and NT Kevon Perry. Dillon led the team with 12.5 TFLs last season, while Lee and Perry combined for 11.5. This group may form the foundation and leadership for the entire defense this fall.

The Safety position should be adequate this fall, but not when it comes to pass coverage. Travis Crawford and Tracy Walker both return, and combined for 132 tackles, but they only combined for five PBUs on the season.

Steven Coutts will be a huge help at Punter after averaging over 44 yards per punt as a sophomore last season.

Jarvis Jeffries, TJ Posey, and Terik Miller all are projected to start, but not one of these players had as many as 20 tackles last fall. Depth will be a huge issue here as well.

The Cajuns were probably one of the worst ball hawking teams in the nation last fall at the CB or NB positions. Damar'ren Mitchell, Troy McCollum, and Levarious Varnado are all starting, but combined for just five total PBUs as a unit, and the team allowed 249.89 yards passing per game.

2017 Schedule
9/2 SE Louisiana, 9/9 at Tulsa, 9/16 at Texas A&M, 9/23 UL-Monroe, 10/7 at Idaho, 10/12 Texas State, 10/19 Arkansas State, 11/4 at South Alabama, 11/11 at Ole Miss, 11/18 New Mexico State, 11/25 Georgia Southern, 12/2 at Appalachian State

Final Overview
There is no way that I can see this football team finishing with a winning record, much less can I see them making a run at a conference title. I have seen this team projected as high as fourth in the Sun Belt standings, but I think even that is an over reach. Hudspeth once was a shining coaching prospect, but the shine is wearing off, and not much is working. I see this as maybe being a four win football team this fall.

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