CFN Preview 2013 - Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana QB Terrance Broadway
Louisiana QB Terrance Broadway
Posted May 3, 2013 2013 Preview - Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Preview 2013

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Mark Hudspeth
3rd year: 18-8
Ten Best Louisiana Players
1. QB Terrance Broadway, Jr.
2. DE Christian Ringo, Jr.
3. RB Alonzo Harris, Jr.
4. LB Justin Anderson, Sr.
5. C Andre Huval, Sr.
6. WR Jamal Robinson, Jr.
7. WR Darryl Surgent, Sr.
8. OT Mykhael Quave, Soph.
9. DT Justin Hamilton, Jr.
10. OG Daniel Quave, Jr.
2013 Schedule
8/31 at Arkansas
9/7 at Kansas State
9/14 Nicholls State
9/21 at Akron
10/5 Texas State
10/16 at WKU
10/22 at Arkansas State
11/2 New Mexico State
11/7 Troy
11/16 at Georgia State
11/30 ULM
12/7 at South Alabama
How much fun is this team?

Under head coach Mark Hudspeth – who miraculously hasn't been snapped up by a bigger-level program – the Ragin' Cajuns went from good to terrific, improving the athleticism on both sides of the ball and blowing up with big numbers and lots of points and lots of production. No, the defense hasn't shown up yet under Hudspeth, there were braincramps against North Texas last year and Western Kentucky two seasons ago, but for the most part, as long as the Ragin' Cajuns aren't playing Oklahoma State – losing to the Cowboys by a combined score of 126 to 58 over the last two seasons – they're productive, effective, and again, fun.

The answer to the leaky defense is to come up with more big plays, more good drives and more timely performances. Combine the flash and dash with the excitement from a solid fan base that apparently was just waiting to erupt – evidenced by the last two New Orleans Bowls – and the needle is pointed up for the program that's positioning itself to be the Next Team Up for Conference USA.

This year, it should be more of the same with quarterback Terrance Broadway turning into a special star who can carry the offense, while Alonzo Harris and the ground attack should continue to be good. The offensive line will be solid, the defensive line will get into the backfield, and there's athleticism in the back seven, even if there isn't much production from the secondary.

It might be a different Sun Belt world now with several of the key teams moving on, but there are still enough tough battles to deal with to make this season a fight. Fortunately, the Ragin' Cajuns should once again be able to do more than hold their own, and they'll be fun doing it.

What to watch for on offense: How fast can the dangerous receivers become bigger factors? Even after losing the top two receivers – Javone Lawson and Harry Peoples – the passing game might be stronger and could be even more explosive. Veteran Darryl Surgent averaged 16.7 yards per catch with three scores, and 6-4 Jamal Robinson blew up every time he got his chance averaging a whopping 24.2 yards per grab. This is a big, athletic group of receivers that can get deep, and the best part is that they don't have to carry the offense. The ground game will do all the work.

What to watch for on defense: How will the defensive front look? It's not a bad situation considering some massive losses on the outside. Tackle Christian Ringo can become a pass rusher on the outside helped by the expected emergence of juniors Justin Hamilton and Brandon McCray inside. The two 300+ pounders should be able to hold down the fort against the run, and now it's up to Ringo to continue his pass rushing production from one side and Dominique Tovell and Chris Prater working on the other. With a shaky pass defense and a smallish linebacking corps, the front line has to dominate.

The team will be far better if … the secondary can come up with a third down stop. The problem throughout last year weren't big plays; it was the inability to get off the field. The Ragin' Cajuns didn't get bombed on deep all that much, but quarterbacks were able to connect on midrange passes to their heart's content. Opponents were able to hold onto the ball an average of three minutes more than ULL mainly because there weren't any problems keeping the chains moving, hitting on 41.5% of their third down chances.

The schedule: The schedule isn't all that bad for a veteran team looking to come up with another big season. Starting out at Arkansas and at Kansas State might not make things fun, but there should be a nice run from there with a layup against Nicholls State and a winnable road game at Akron before diving into Sun Belt play against Texas State. There's only one game between September 21st and mid-October, but then it's the make-or-break stretch going to WKU and Arkansas State on the road. With ULM and Troy coming to Lafayette, the second half of the season should be a big success.

Best offensive player: Junior QB Terrance Broadway. It took a little while before he took over the job in a full-time capacity, but when he got his feet wet, he exploded as both a runner and a consistent passer. He tore off 100 yards on the ground in three of the last four games, and became an efficient and effective passer with the ability to put up big numbers – throwing for 374 yards against Arkansas State and 373 yards against ULM with seven scores in a two-week span. The upside is limitless with Sun Belt Player of the Year potential.

Best defensive player: Junior DE Christian Ringo. Linebacker Justin Anderson will be an all-star and should be a statistical star, but it's Ringo who'll wreak the most havoc. A squatty, quick 6-1, 285-pound tackle, he was a terror of an interior pass rusher last season, and now he'll move to the end where he should be able to pin his ears back and get to the quarterback on a regular basis. He needs to do more against the run, but if he can crank out double-digit sacks, he's doing his job.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore CB Jevante Watson & Junior CB Trevence Patt. The secondary has to be stronger and the pass coverage has to be better. Just a little better production could be the difference between another great season and a Sun Belt title, and it'll be up to Watson and Patt to lock things down on the outside. The pass rush will be fine, and now the defensive backs have to do their part for a defense that finished last in the Sun Belt and 112th in the nation against the pass.

The season will be a success if … the Ragin' Cajuns win the Sun Belt title. There might be some major concerns on defense, and the kicking game needs some retooling, but with an explosive and effective offense, this could be the year to get over the hump in the gutted league. There's still Arkansas State to deal with, and Western Kentucky will be nasty on the road, but there's no reason to lose to anyone else on the conference slate. Split the two big road games, take care of a few non-conference games against Akron and New Mexico State, hold serve at home, and it should be on to another bowl game. However, it's Sun Belt title or bust after the success of the last few seasons.

Key game: Oct. 22 at Arkansas State. The Ragin' Cajuns have to find a way to get past the Red Wolves. For all of the success over the last few years, there have been major problems with ASU, getting blasted 50-27 in a key Sun Belt showdown last season and losing 30-21 two years ago. ULL owned the series for a few years, but now it's time to get through the big road test a week after going to WKU to try taking control of the conference race.

2012 Fun Stats:
- Fourth Down Conversion %: ULL 8-of-11 (73%) – Opponents 3-of-14 (21%)
- Third Down Conversion %: Opponents 80-of-193 (41.5%) – ULL 64-of-164 (39%)
- Penalties: Opponents 90 for 763 yards – ULL 74 for 633 yards

- 2013 Louisiana Preview | 2013 Louisiana Offense
- 2013 Louisiana Defense | 2013 Louisiana Depth Chart