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2008 Louisiana-Lafayette Preview - Offense
Louisiana-Lafayette QB Michael Desormeaux
Louisiana-Lafayette QB Michael Desormeaux
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 30, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun Offense

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Preview 2008
- Offense

- 2008 CFN Louisiana-Lafayette Preview | 2008 ULL Offense
- 2008 ULL Defense | 2008 ULL Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN UL Lafayette Preview | 2006 CFN UL Lafayette Preview 

What you need to know:
While the off-season was all about improving the passing game and tweaking the offense, the running game will once again be the bread-and-butter after finishing seventh in the nation for the second time in three years. However, it could all go in the tank if the line isn't healthy. The front five will be fine if it's 100%, but several key players went down in spring ball and durability will be a big concern during the year. The backfield is set with 1,000-yard rushing quarterback Michael Desormeaux back along with RB Tyrell Fenroy, who could be just the seventh player in the history of college football with four 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Derrick Smith and Jason Chery are veteran receivers, but they don't get used too often in the offense.

Returning Leaders
Passing Michael Desormeaux
133-242, 1,405 yds, 10 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Michael Desormeaux
188 carries, 1,141 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Jason Chery
36 catches, 442 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Tyrell Fenroy
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Kyle Pirtle
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Jonathan Decoster
Best pro prospect: Fenroy
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Fenroy, 2) QB Michael Desormeaux, 3) C Chris Fisher
Strength of the offense: Running game, receiver experience
Weakness of the offense:
Healthy line, efficient passing game

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Senior Michael Desormeux has done a little of everything over the course of his career from playing backup quarterback, part-time defensive back, and serving time on the special teams. Last year he finally got the starting quarterback job to himself and he came up with a huge season running the ball, and a mediocre one throwing it. The 6-2, 200 pounder led the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game averaging 123.2 every time out and finishing with 1,141 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he didn't do much through the air completing 55% of his passes for 1,405 yards and ten touchdowns with ten interceptions. He threw for 234 yards in the loss to Ohio, but he was hardly consistent throughout the year and didn't push the ball deep. The goal is to keep him running while generating a few more big plays through the air.

Projected Top Reserves: It'll be a battle for the No. 2 job all season long between redshirt freshmen Brad McGuire and Chris Masson. The 6-1, 165-pound Masson is a decent runner and a potentially average passer, but he's not going to bomb away and he won't run like Michael Desormeaux. The 6-2, 195-pound McGuire gives the team another dimension with his passing ability. He should be deadly on short to midrange passes and can run a little bit. A physical player, he's not going to shy away from contact and will hang in the pocket as long as needed.

Watch Out For ... the backups to come in when more passing is needed.  Desormaux isn't going to be pulled too often, but in blowouts it'll be up to the backups to get their feet wet for next year. Watch to see if the reserves get to come in and start bombing away. Top recruit Blaine Gautier might be redshirted this year, but he could be too good to keep off the field for long.
Strength: Desormeaux's running. He might not be able to throw consistently, but his mobility and speed make him a nightmare to deal with. He's a 100-yard rushing day waiting to happen.
Weakness
:
Passing efficiency. It's not like the Ragin' Cajuns are going to throw for 350 yards per game, but they have to take advantage of the single coverage and start connecting more on deep balls. Desormeaux is too experienced not to be more accurate.
Outlook: There will be far more passing, at least that will be the plan early on, and that'll put more pressure on Desormeaux, who's one of the Sun Belt's best all-around quarterbacks and the team's unquestioned No. 1. With his running style, he's not a lock to last the entire season so the battle between McGuire and Masson will be worth watching. They're fighting now for the 2009 starting job along with the No. 2 spot.
Rating:
5


Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior Tyrell Fenroy has been one of the Sun Belt's best players over the last three seasons and now he's on the verge of making history. With a 1,000-yard season, he'll be only the seventh player in the history of D-I college football to have four 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and along the way he should blow past the ULL career rushing record needing just 64 yards. He'll be the Sun Belt's all-time leading rusher with 830 yards. Only 5-9 and 186 pounds, he's not necessarily a workhorse and isn't going to carry it 30 times a game, but he's phenomenally quick and is always gaining positive yards averaging 4.5 yards per carry. While he's not used too often in the passing game, he has the hands to be a weapon out of the backfield with 36 career catches for 326 yards and a touchdown.

ULL has a decent blocking back in 6-0, 252-pound senior Chancellor Roberson to pave the way. He got a few short-yardage carries with nine runs for 22 yards and two touchdowns, but he'll hardly ever touch the ball.

Projected Top Reserves: While Tyrell Fenroy and QB Michael Desormaux are the main rushing options, there's still a place for junior Deon Wallace. The tremendously fast veteran was third on the team with 433 yards and a touchdown, but he didn't hit the home runs he was supposed to with his longest gain just 18 yards. Only 5-9 and 194 pounds, he's not going to pound it between the tackles on a regular basis. He's a solid ten-carry back who can help share the workload, but first he has to get back in the mix after sitting out spring ball to get his academics straight.

Junior Matt Dupre is another smallish, quick back at a wispy 5-10 and 159 pounds, and now he'll likely get more of a role after seeing time this spring with Deon Wallace out. Dupre had a fight on his hands with Julian Shankle for the No. 3 job, but Shankle broke his ankle and will likely be out for the year.

Pushing for playing time at fullback will be juniors Geoffrey McCullough and Phillip Walker after moving over from the linebacking corps. The 5-11, 205-pound McCullough isn't nearly as big as Chancellor Roberson, but he's tough and physical. The 6-0 211-pound Walker will likely be the third option in the rotation.

Watch Out For ... Fenroy to make history. The coaching staff isn't going to overuse the star back, but it'll make absolutely sure he gets 1,000 yards.
Strength: Quickness. There's no size, but the trio of Fenroy, Wallace and Dupre can move. They can get in and out of almost any situation and can flash though any hole.
Weakness
:
Size. The top three tailbacks combine to average 5-9 and 180 pounds. There's no consistent power back to count on for hard yards, so the ULL backfield has to always rely on quickness to keep things moving.
Outlook: The Ragin' Cajuns ran for 3,019 yards last year helped by the running of QB Michael Desormeaux, and as long as Fenroy stays healthy, they'll hit the mark again. Fenroy will set all kinds of records as he looks to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight year, while Wallace is good enough to carry the workload for stretches if needed.
Rating: 6

Receivers


Projected Starters: The ULL receivers don't get a lot of work, but there's a nice 1-2 punch in place to do more with the passing game. Senior Derrick Smith has been a good deep threat over the last few years averaging over 14 yards per catch on 98 career grabs and making 35 catches for 583 yards and three touchdowns last season. While he's not much of a scorer and he doesn't hit too many home runs, he has good size at 6-1 and 184 pounds and can crank out big catches from time to time. Now he has to get back into the mix after missing the final four games of last year and missing all of this spring with academic issues.

Senior Jason Chery has been a good second option on the other side of Derrick Smith, and he turned out to be a decent No. 1 when he had to be late last year with 21 catches in the final four games with Smith out. The former running back made 36 catches for 442 yards and two touchdowns on the season while serving as a decent kick returner. He has the speed and quickness, but the 5-11, 180-pounder hasn't had to produce big numbers on a consistent basis.

Senior Erik Jones will step into the tight end void, and while he likely won't be used too much as a receiver, except around the goal line, he'll be a blocker. He's been a spot starter with two catches over the past two seasons, and while he's only 6-4 and 228 pounds, he's physical.

Projected Top Reserves: With Derrick Smith out this spring, sophomore Marlin Miller showed he could step in and become a starter. 5-10 and 174 pounds, he's a thin, quick playmaker with the ability to push for more time even when Smith is back. He didn't make the impact he was supposed to last season getting mostly garbage time opportunities until late in the year, and finishing with seven catches for 36 yards, but he'll likely be the third receiver in the mix.

Also looking for more time will by sophomore Richie Falgout after making 13 catches for 88 yards. A smart player who finds ways to get open, he could emerge as a third down target in the rotation behind Marlin Miller and Derrick Smith.

Adding more speed to the mix is redshirt freshman Lance Kelley, a 4.5 sprinter who could be a flash playing behind Jason Chery. At 6-2 and 185 pounds, he has the size to go along with his wheels, but he has to learn how to be more of a receiver after spending most of his high school career as a quarterback and running back.

Combining at tight end behind Eric Jones will be junior Matt Ulm and Luke Aubrey, two similarly-sized players checking in at around 6-3 and 225 pounds. Aubrey made one catch for 22 yards in the blowout loss to Tennessee while Ulm is looking to do more than just be a blocker.

Watch Out For ... the youngsters. and Smith are the top two receivers, but there are several relatively untested players ready to do more. Falgout, Miller and Kelley are interesting options, while sophomore Verlin Moore and redshirt freshman Matt Campbell have promise.
Strength: Chery and Smith. While they'll never blow up in this offense, the two veterans are proven producers who should combine for around 80 catches if they can stay on the field. Smith has to clean up his academics first.
Weakness
:
Falling into a rut. The key to the ULL receiving corps is being able to make the most of the opportunities. There just aren't enough of them. It's hard to get into a groove when the offense runs it was well as the Ragin' Cajuns do, so all the receivers have to make more big plays to take advantage of single coverage.
Outlook: Chery and Smith are two strong veterans who'll each do a good job of making the passing game more than just an afterthought, but they're not going to do too much damage. The key will be the emergence of several young targets going into next season, and getting a big year out of new starting tight end Eric Jones would be nice.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: This was a tough off-season for the ULL line suffering a slew of big injuries, and it doesn't help when some top players have to be replaced. The biggest hole is at left tackle where Jessie Newman is gone. 6-6, 294-pound Kyle Pirtle is supposed to be the main option after starting over the first half of last year on the right side before suffering a knee injury. He has the size and he has the athleticism, but he has to heal up in time to be the centerpiece of the line.

Left guard is also a concern with junior Brad Bustle suffering a knee injury in spring ball. The former defensive lineman has been more than physical enough to handle the inside workload, and he's just now coming into his own as a run blocker. At 6-2 and 284 pounds, he's a big blocker with good mobility.

Also getting hurt was 6-2, 280-pound junior center Chris Fisher, the team's rising star on the line. He hurt his hand this spring but should be back as the anchor up front after starting the last 17 games he's been healthy for. He's been a fantastic quarterback up front so far and a key run blocker.

Taking over for the full-time right tackle job will be sophomore Jonathan Decoster, who was thrown to the wolves over the second half of last year after Pirtle got hurt. The 6-4, 297-pounder was one of the few top linemen to escape this spring unscathed, and with his size, smarts, and potential, he should be a key starter up front for the next three years.

Needing to step in at right guard is sophomore Ian Burks, an undersized 6-2, 266-pounder who start
ed nine times last year. While he's not a big mauler on the inside, he's extremely quick and is good on the move.

Projected Top Reserves: With all the injury issues up front, several players will see time in a rotation. One of the key new players will be star recruit Jaron Odom, a 6-5, 340-pound monster who was originally considered a tackle but will play guard. Over 80 pounds bigger than Ian Burks, Odom adds a lot more beef at right guard.

6-5, 256-pound sophomore Colin Windsor worked with sophomore Nasser Jamal at left tackle in spring ball with Kyle Pirtle out, but he'll end up playing behind Chris Fisher at center. He could move to tackle if needed, but the 6-5, 277-pound Jamal will be the main backup behind Pirtle.

Able to step in at tackle or center is 6-5, 280-pound junior Brad Bryant, a spot starter who started off his career as a backup center and now will play behind Jonathan Decoster at right tackle. Staying healthy has been an issue, struggling through a knee injury, but he could be a key backup and a possible starter once he's healthy.

Watch Out For ... a lot of playing around with the combinations. There were so many injuries this off-season, and there are so many question marks, that several players will see time in several spots.
Strength: Run blocking. ULL is able to get big blockers who can move. This is a beefy group that's just quick enough to open up consistent holes for one of the nation's best running game. There aren't many 300-pound maulers, but this isn't an undersized line compared to some in the Sun Belt.
Weakness
:
Healthy bodies. Pirtle, Bustle and Bryant are all trying to get over knee injuries, Fisher has a hand problem, and backup Josh Robinson has a shoulder injury. The line just isn't deep enough to overcome a major injury problem during the season.
Outlook: This will be one of the Sun Belt's better lines if everyone is healthy, but not everyone will be 100% to start the season and it's doubtful the line will have the same starting five for more than a few games in a row. Run blocking is hardly a problem, and there's not a lot of pass protection to worry about, so for what it needs to do the front five should be good. However, Fisher and Bustle can't be hurt for long and Pirtle has to be back.
Rating: 5