Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth
2014 record: 9-4 overall, 7-1 Sun Belt
2014 Postseason results: Beat Nevada 16-3 in the New Orleans Bowl
2015 returning starters: 4 offense, 4 defense
Odds to win 2016 College Football Championship game: 9900/1
Odds to win 2015 Sun Belt title: +650
Regular season wins: under 8 -150 / over 8 +130
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For four straight seasons, the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns have gone to the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won all four of those games in a virtual home game just 135 miles from their campus. Last year, ULL beat Nevada 16-3.
The win capped off a 9-4 season for the Cajuns. ULL finished second in the Sun Belt at 7-1 behind undefeated Georgia Southern. The Cajuns began the season 1-3 with losses to Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Boise State. All three of those teams would win at least 9 games, and the latter two played in New Year’s Six Bowl games. ULL would then win six straight games before a loss at home to Appalachian State. All four losses were by 19 points or more.
Only eight starters are back for coach Mark Hudspeth. The Cajuns are expected to contend for the Sun Belt title again in 2015.
Last year, UL-Lafayette averaged 418 yards per game on offense, including 226 rushing and 192 passing yards. The Cajuns were #22 nationally in rushing. ULL scored 30 points a game. Coordinator Jay Johnson gets 4 starters back on offense.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway has graduated after throwing for 2,300 yards with 13 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and rushing for 641 yards on 146 carries with 3 touchdowns. Juniors Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon will compete with redshirt freshman Jordan Davis for the job. The competition will go deep into fall camp and could even go into the regular season. Haack threw for 179 yards with 2 touchdowns last year. Nixon threw only one pass last year.
Junior running back Elijah McGuire is back and was the Sun Belt offensive player of the year last season. He had 166 carries for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 45 catches for 468 yards and 2 touchdowns. Alonzo Harris is now with the Green Bay Packers after rushing for 807 yards on 172 carries for 12 touchdowns, and he made 6 catches. Torrey Pierce will get the back-up carries but he only had 11 carries and 9 catches last year. McGuire will carry most of the load though. The quarterbacks will get significant carries as well, but Haack is more of a pocket passer. Nixon and Davis are more dual threat quarterbacks.
Receiver James Butler has graduated after making 38 catches for 470 yards. Al Riles is back after making 34 catches for 354 yards and a touchdown. Gabe Fuselier had 30 catches for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jamal Robinson had 15 catches for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns. C.J. Bates had 12 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown. Jared Johnson had 10 catches for 96 yards with 3 touchdowns. Devin Scott and tight end Nick Byrne will also get some more targets after making 5 catches each last year.
Three starters are back on the offensive line, including right guard Donovan Williams and right tackle Octravian Anderson. Left guard Mykhael Quave and new left tackle Grant Horst have all-conference potential. Eddie Gordon takes over at center.
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Last year, ULL allowed 406 yards per game on defense including 264 passing and 142 rushing yards. The Cajuns allowed 26 points per game. Four starters are back for new co-coordinators Charlie Harbison and Melvin Smith who both came over from Auburn.
The defensive line must replace Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton. The duo combined for 29.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. Chris Prater and Miami-(FL) transfer Jacoby Briscoe are expected to headline a largely untested unit.
The linebackers will be a a strength as the Cajuns are deep and talented at the position. Dominique Tovell returns at the strong side. He had 76 tackles including 9.5 for loss last year. Tre’maine Lightfoot will start in the middle and Otha Peters will start on the weak side.
Three safeties with starting experience return for ULL but both cornerbacks must be replaced. T.J. Worthy, Tracy Walker and Travis Crawford will split time at the safeties. Sophomores Troy McCollum and Simeon Thomas will start at the corners.
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Freshmen Dylan Scheurich and Stevie Artigue will battle for the kicking job. Another freshman Steven Coutts will handle the punting job. Montrel Carter will return kicks and McGuire will return punts.
UL-Lafayette opens the season at Kentucky, before hosting Northwestern State and Akron. In October, the Cajuns travel to Lousiana Tech and Arkansas State, and host Texas State and UL-Monroe. November brings road games at Georgia State, South Alabama and Appalachian State, and a home game against New Mexico State. ULL closes the season at home against Troy December 5.
The schedule is very difficult. With so many new faces for the Ragin’ Cajuns on both sides of the ball, I can’t see more than seven wins for this team. Six is probably more realistic. I see another bowl appearance for ULL, possibly a return trip to New Orleans.
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