2011 Louisiana Preview – Offense
Louisiana QB Chris Masson
Louisiana QB Chris Masson
Posted Jul 15, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Louisiana Ragin' Cajun Offense

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Preview 2011 - Offense

- 2011 Louisiana Preview | 2011 Louisiana Offense
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What You Need To Know: New offensive coordinator Jay Johnson will try to mix it up a bit and will try to create a balance, but nothing will work unless the line, one of the Sun Belt's biggest disappointments last year, starts to do more. There's plenty of turnover and lots of question marks up front, but it's a huge, HUGE line that should be able to shove some people around. There's a ton of experience among the skill players with Chris Masson leading a good threesome of quarterbacks, while tight end Ladarius Green is one of the league's best weapons and should be the centerpiece of the attack. The running backs are extremely quick, but they need room to move after getting little last year.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Masson
148-280, 1,842 yds, 11 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Aaron Spikes
103 carries, 339 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Ladarius Green
44 catches, 794 yds, 7 TD

Star of the offense: Senior TE Ladarius Geen
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Leonard Bates
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Javone Lawson
Best pro prospect: Green
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Green, 2) QB Chris Masson, 3) C Andre Huval
Strength of the offense: Experienced Skill Players, Green
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Scoring Wide Receivers


State of the Unit: The quarterbacks weren't very efficient and threw too many picks, but they combined for 3,000 yards and bombed away to try to keep up in shootouts. Everyone kept getting dinged up and three players ended up seeing time, and now there could be a two-quarterback system to maximize everyone's talents. While consistency is a key, there's a ton of experience to rely on.

It'll be a fight for the starting job and playing time, but when healthy, Chris Masson is the likely No. 1 option. The 6-2, 203-pound senior completed 53% of his passes for 1,842 yards and 11 touchdowns with six touchdowns, and he ran a bit with a score. While he's mobile, he's not the typical Ragin' Cajun quarterback is more of a passer and is the one who'll keep the chains moving. He's experienced, calm, and comfortable in the pocket, and when he's on, he can bomb away.

6-0, 205-pound junior Blaine Gautier is No. 1A in the pecking order after throwing for 550 yards and three scores and six interceptions, but he stepped in when needed and was more of a running option finishing with 280 yards and five scores. He's the runner in the equation and will step in when the offense works out of the Wildcat. He's not going to bomb away and he takes way too many sacks, but he's tremendously quick.

6-2, 225-pound senior Brad McGuire is a do-it-all factor. Moved to a hybrid fullback role last year for a stretch, he ended up running for 116 yards and five scores, but he also stepped in and threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns in the loss at Ohio. He doesn't have a live arm, but he can spread it around.

Watch Out For … a two quarterback system. Masson is the passer, Gautier is the runner. Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson will use them both as needed.
Strength: Experience. All three quarterbacks have seen enough live action to step in and produce when needed. Injuries have been an issue and there have been too many picks, but the quarterbacks should be a strength now that everyone knows what they're doing.
Weakness: Efficiency. Partly because there were so many issues with health throughout last year, and partly because of mistakes, the quarterbacks combined to finish 95th in the nation in passing efficiency. There simply weren't enough big plays.
Outlook: The situation is rock-solid with three veterans who each have their own roles. There should be a decent rotation to keep defenses guessing. The problem is that the three quarterbacks each do something well, but not at a high level. If you could combine all three options the Ragin' Cajuns would have an all-star.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: The offense tried to run the ball and it got some production from the quarterbacks, but the production wasn't there with the ground game finishing with a pathetic 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Part of the problem was a miserable offensive line, part of the problem was the loss of JUCO transfer Kevis Streeter to a knee injury, and part of the problem was poor play from the backs. There are plenty of veterans, but someone has to emerge.

Only one returning running back came up with a score last year, and leading rusher Aaron Spikes now has to do more after finishing with just 339 yards and two touchdowns averaging 3.3 yards per carry. The 5-10, 195-pound sophomore didn't do much on the ground, but he showed terrific hands for the passing game with 23 catches for 398 yards and six touchdowns. He doesn't run on the inside very well, but he has excellent speed and quickness on the outside.

The hope will be for 5-8, 183-pound sophomore Robert Walker to be even stronger between the tackles after running for 162 yards, but he showed this offseason that he can be physical and can pound a bit. One of the team's top recruits last year, he had to get past an early hamstring problem, but he showed off a little of the skill that led him to a 2,041-yard, 27 touchdown senior year in high school. He'll combine with Yobes Walker a 5-11, 200-pound fullback type who originally committed to Houston and switched at the last second. Now he has to produce using his blend of speed and power to be a factor after running just once last year for two yards.

Backup quarterback Brad McGuire will also serve as a fullback who can catch the ball a bit out of the backfield, but the new offense will only used the position to block. That's why 6-1, 243-pound junior Fred Okoye could play a bigger role with his size and his bulk perfect to blast away with.

Watch Out For … The Walkers. Spikes was a good recruit and he showed flashes last year, but the coaching staff wants more between the tackles and Yobes Walker and Robert Walker are better at that.
Strength: Veterans. The three top options were all good gets for the program and they can all run well. Considering their youth, they have enough experience to do more, but they need help from the rest of the attack.
Weakness: Rushing scores. Louisiana ran for 14 touchdowns, but 11 came from the quarterbacks and one came from Streeter, who had to quit football because of his horrendous knee injury.
Outlook: The overall production was pathetic considering 339 yards was enough to lead the team. The Walkers and Spikes are all tremendously quick and they can all produce if they get a little room to move, but that's not a given. Two of the three wins last year came with the backs didn't run a lick, but that has to change.
Unit Rating: 5


State of the Unit: With the wide receivers so mediocre, running back Aaron Spikes finished second on the team in receptions and the tight end became the most important part of the attack. The offense has GOT to get production out of a receiving corps that failed time and again to come up with the big play. With veteran quarterbacks in place, there shouldn't be a problem getting more pop.

Even if the wide receivers improve, the No. 1 target is talented senior tight end Ladarius Green, a slippery target who always finds ways to get open and always comes up with the catch leading the team with 44 grabs for 794 yards and seven touchdowns averaging 18 yards per catch. Tall, he's a wiry 6-6, 230-pound matchup nightmare and is terrific around the goal line. Like a big wide receiver and with his skills, he's one of the Sun Belt's most talented weapons, but he's not going to blow anyone away with his blocking.

6-1, 183-pound junior Javone Lawson was growing into a decent deep threat, but he got hurt and missed the second half of the year. With decent size and great speed, he should do more at the outside X position catching 19 passes for 271 yards and a score, averaging 14.3 yards per catch. He'll be used far more now that he's healthy, while 6-0, 182-pound true sophomore Darryl Surgent will step in as a key backup after catching seven passes for 155 yards averaging 22.1 yards per play.

Working on the inside Z position is 6-3, 196-pound sophomore James Butler who can get deep and can make things happen with the ball in his hands, but now he has to do it more after catching 14 passes for 200 yards and a score. He'll combine with 6-3, 204-pound redshirt freshman Boris Anyama for the job, and each has the frame and the size to be tough to handle across the middle.

Senior Andrew Joseph is only 5-10 and 167 pounds, but he's extremely quick and he carved out a role in the slot finishing third on the team with 22 catches for 238 yards and a score. He was hot during the middle of the season and disappeared late with just three catches in the last four games. 5-10, 180-pound JUCO transfer Harry Peoples is expected to be a factor inside as well as a punt returner. Phenomenally quick, he averaged 19.7 yards per punt return and catch 35 passes for 380 yards and two scores for Holmes CC.

Watch Out For … Even more Green. While he'll fill his normal role as a tight end, at least in theory considering he's really just a wide receiver, he'll get the ball in his hands even more. He's the NFL talent, and the coaching staff is going to use him.
Strength: Experience. There might not need to be far more from the receivers, but led by Green, just about every target of note is back. Throw in a JUCO transfer in Peoples, and there are plenty of players who know what they're doing.
Weakness: Wide receiver scores. There were 18 touchdown passes. Green caught seven, Spikes, and running back, caught six. No one else caught more than one scoring pass.
Outlook: Helped by Green, the Louisiana passing game has a star to work around, and the veteran wide receivers should do more. The passing game will try to spread the ball around, but it's Green who makes the corps a possible strength.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The line was supposed to be a relative strength last year, and it was miserable. Despite being full of veterans from a group that was one of the best in the Sun Belt in 2009. It didn't block anyone finishing last in the Sun Belt and 116th in the nation in sacks allowed and didn't do anything for the ground game. Now the line has to all but start from scratch with three new starters.

6-7, 300-pound left guard Kyle Plouhar is the most experienced returning blocker, and with his size is needed to blast away at left guard and be the anchor of the unit. However, he hasn't been much more than a key part of a rotation at both guard and tackle. While he's tall for the position, he'll work inside.

The line's star should be right tackle Jaron Odom, a 6-7, 350-pound widebody who can blot out the sun, but will be asked to be a bit of a pass protector. MASSIVE, he's too tall for guard, even though he can step inside and blast away, and he'll try to be a consistent blocker on the outside.

Junior Leonardo Bates has had weight issues, but at 6-5 and 316 pounds he should be in decent shape to work at left tackle. Consistency is the key, and while he's not going to stay with any speed rushers he'll bury people for the ground game. 6-5, 280-pound redshirt freshman Jarad Martin is a more mobile, more athletic option on the outside.

Sophomore Andre Huval got a start and was a key backup throughout last year, and now he'll move from guard to center where he'll take over for Jonathan Decoster. At 6-2 and 310 pounds he has excellent size and has the raw skills to grow into the job over the next three years. He should become an anchor in time, while 6-3, 285-pound sophomore Daniel Lemelle got a little bit of time last year and is experienced enough to not be starting from scratch is he gets thrown into the middle.

6-4, 330-pound redshirt freshman Daniel Quave took over the starting right guard this spring, and while he's green and will need a little bit of time, he's a big, tough prospect who should be a stalwart of the line for the next four years. On the way to make an impact at one of the guard jobs, at least in a reserve role, is JUCO transfer Brandon Bender, a 6-3, 285-pounder who blew up over the last few years after leaving high school as a 6-1, 212-pounder. Athletic, he can move well for the interior.

Watch Out For … A little bit of movement. Everyone is roughly the same size and everyone can move between guard and tackle. The coaching staff will play around with the combination throughout the early part of the year.
Strength: Size. This is a huge, HUGE line. When being 315 pounds makes you a lightweight, the line is big.
Weakness: Production and experience. The pass protection was non-existent last year, so it might not be a horrible thing that so many starters have to be replaced. After giving up 39 sacks, the bar isn't set too high.
Outlook: If nothing else, this is a big, pounding line that should shove someone around simply by falling over. However, the athleticism isn't exactly there and this might be one of the team's biggest weaknesses early on.
Unit Rating: 4

- 2011 Louisiana Preview | 2011 Louisiana Offense
- 2011 Louisiana Defense | 2011 Louisiana Depth Chart