Louisiana-Lafayette Preview |
2009 ULL Offense
2009 ULL Defense |
2009 ULL Depth
2008 ULL Preview |
2007 ULL Preview |
What you need to know: After having one of the worst defenses in America in 2007, ULL struggled way too
much throughout last year to come up with any sort of production. The line was
awful with no pass rush and way too many problems against the run, while the
linebacking corps that was expected to be a strength struggled with injuries and
had to do too much. Now, with Antwyne Zanders back in the middle of the
linebacking corps, and everyone returning healthy, there should be a big
improvement, but with just 17 sacks and nine interceptions last season, the
defense has to do more to come up with the big play. At least things were better
than they were two years ago, and if safeties Gerren Blount and Maurice Rolle
and CB Orkeys Auriene can spark a good year from the secondary, there could be
night-and-day improvement in the overall production.
Tackles: Daylon McCoy, Antwyne
Interceptions: Daylon McCoy, 2
Star of the defense: Senior LB Antwyne Zanders
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior DE Jermaine Rogers
Unsung star on the rise: Junior FS Maurice Rolle
Best pro prospect: Zanders
Top three all-star candidates:
1) Zanders, 2) LB Daylon McCoy, 3) DE Hall
Strength of the defense: Linebacker, experience
Weakness of the defense:
Pass rush, run defense
Projected Starters: The line only loses one starter, Lanier
Coleman, from the inside. Replacing him will be
Derreck Dean, a 5-11, 285-pound
sophomore saw a little time in every game last season finishing with 16 tackles.
While he’s not much of interior pass rusher, he’s strong and has the potential
to grow into one of the team’s best run stoppers over the next few years.
Next to Dean will be Jermaine Rogers,
who was part of the rotation last season and finished with 12 tackles and 1.5
tackles for loss despite starting in seven games and seeing plenty of action in
the other five. He’s a 6-5, 290-pound junior who needs to start producing more
and being more disruptive to hold on to the job.
Senior Hall Davis is a big 6-5,
272-pound end who could slide inside to tackle if needed. He was one of the
team’s best pass rushers making 3.5 sacks to go along with five tackles for loss
and 24 stops. A smart, strong player with good quickness, he needs to blossom in
his last year.
6-5, 260-pound junior Terrell Richardson
was a key part of the line moving from being part of a rotation to the full-time
starter. However, he didn’t do anything to get into the backfield with no sacks
and 20 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. He bulked up big-time over the last
few years and has to show a little bit of the upside and promise he had when he
first started out as a true freshman.
Projected Top Reserves:
On the way and expected to be a force on the inside from day one is
Tyrell Gaddies, a 6-3, 270-pound
JUCO transfer who dominated at Coffeyville CC in Kansas. With phenomenal
quickness, the one-time star high school hurdler has the athleticism to go along
with the size to become an all-star right away.
Expected to grow into a major factor at one end is
Jeremy Cook, a 6-6, 250-pound junior
who was supposed to be a top pass rusher last year but didn’t come up with a
sack and made 21 stops. He has dominated at times in practices and showed the
potential to be a special player. Now it has to happen.
Junior Sharrick Moore isn't a big option for the inside, but the 6-2,
267-pound tackle has the quickness to grow into a dangerous interior pass rusher
if he gets a little more playing time. He made 11 tackles and a half a sack as
part of the rotation, and now he’ll combine forces to work behind Derreck Dean.
Ready to become more of a playmaker is 6-2, 227-pound senior Chris Lanaux
after making 15 tackles and two sacks as a reserve. A smart player with a good
burst, he could grow into a situational pass rusher now that he knows what he’s
Working on the inside is LaQuincy
Williams, a good 6-3, 292-pound athlete who made 12 tackles. The junior will
have to do even more to see playing time with so many new faces in the tackle
mix, but with his strength and experience, he has the ability to do more.
Watch Out For ... Gaddies. He’s good enough to be the playmaker
the struggling line desperately needs. With his combination of skills, he could
become a one-man wrecking crew from the inside.
Strength: Experience. Everyone is back but one starter and there’s
experience and options for every spot. There will be several good battles for
jobs and there won’t be too much of a problem if injuries strike.
Weakness: Stopping the run. The Ragin’ Cajuns haven’t stopped the run
for years, and last season was a particular problem giving up 213 yards per
game. There wasn’t any pass rush, either, finishing 100th in the
nation in both sacks and tackles for loss.
Outlook: A disappointment in 2007, the line was a disaster last
season with no pass rush whatsoever and little production against the run. The
defense had to manufacture pressure from other spots to get to the quarterback,
and even that didn’t work. This year there’s a ton of returning experience and
plenty of size, but there has to be more production from all four spots. For
good and bad, there’s little drop-off from the ones to the twos. Now there has
to be more from the ones.
Projected Starters: Senior
Antwyne Zanders has been one of the Sun Belt’s best defenders from the last
few years making 93 tackles in 2007 and coming up with 69 last year. A 6-2,
226-pound guided missile, he’s great at doing a little of everything well from
his spot in the middle. He can get into the backfield, drop into pass coverage,
and is strong at dropping into pass coverage. While he’s not big and has had
problems in the past with his academic eligibility, he’s the team’s leader,
ultra-consistent, and versatile enough to play inside or out.
Starring on the outside will be Daylon
McCoy, a strong safety who can play any spot in the corps. After moving over
from strong safety last season, he tied for the team lead in tackles and led the
way with four sacks with six tackles for loss. Still mobile like a safety with
defensive back speed, the 6-0, 220-pound junior also made two interceptions and
forced two fumbles.
Junior Grant Fleming is back after
struggling through a knee injury that limited him for most of last year. The
6-4, 232-pounder started the first five games before getting knocked out, but on
the plus side he bulked up over that time. He earned All-Sun Belt honors as a
freshman after making 71 tackles, and he made 34 tackles in his brief time.
Fast, tough, and ultra-productive, his health is one of the keys to the defense.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 238-pound
Richard Brooks hurt his knee and was
out over the second half of the season. Even so, he made 31 tackles and showed
off why he’s such an invaluable reserve and spot starter for the inside. The
speedy sophomore is being groomed for the job next year once Antwyne Zanders is
Senior Jezreel Washington stepped in
and started five times and was a key backup the rest of the time to finish fifth
on the team with 45 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. While he’s not big, he’s
versatile and can move well at either outside spot.
6-2, 218-pound sophomore Devon
Lewis-Buchanan was originally a defensive back who made 12 tackles in his
true freshman season. While he was a key reserve early on, he got a start late
against Florida Atlantic. He’ll be used at times at both outside spots and he
should be steadier now that he knows what he’s doing.
Watch Out For ... the linebacking corps to be better. It was a
mish-mash of players being thrown into the mix throughout last year thanks to
injuries, but now there are several experienced backups to go along with a good
front three that should be healthier.
Strength: Veterans. The three starters return with Zanders, McCoy
and Fleming all back and all ready to go after all the problems in last year’s
corps. There’s plenty of quickness to go along with all the experience.
Weakness: Health. While there are good backups looking to see more
time, maintaining the health of players like Fleming and Brooks will be vital.
Zanders has been a rock over the last few years, and he has to stay that way.
Outlook: Injuries and ineffectiveness made this one of the Sun
Belt’s most disappointing units. It had the potential to be among the league’s
best linebacking corps, but it didn’t happen. There’s too much speed and too
much experience to not be better, and having plenty of depth to form a good
rotation on the outside around all-star Antwyne Zanders will help. The potential
is there for a huge turnaround in production.
Projected Starters: Senior free safety Gerren Blount was
the only returning starter to the secondary last season, and even that was a
question mark due to academic issues. But the 5-11, 188-pounder played the full
season was a star making 67 tackles with a sack and three recovered fumbles.
While he’s not huge at 5-11 and 188 pounds, he’s steady, has excellent speed,
and is a good hitter.
Taking over for Derik Keyes at strong safety will be
Chris Richard, a 6-0, 195-pound
sophomore who made eight tackles and a sack in a reserve role. He was in a
battle this off-season for the gig, but he showed great range and surprising
maturity in the position this spring to take the job going into the fall. He
should grow into a defender to work around for the next three years.
Back at one corner spot will be junior Orkeys Auriene after starting half
the season. While he’s a rail-thin 175 pounds on a 5-10 frame, he’s a decent
tackler making 39 tackles with an interception and a team-leading six broken up
passes. He’ll be the No. 1 corner working on the left side.
Dwight Bentley stepped in as a
freshman and started in ten games making 45 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss.
While he struggled too often against the pass, and he didn’t come up with enough
broken up passes with just three, he’s a good-looking 5-11, 173-pound prospect
who has good potential on the right side.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 193-pound junior Maurice Rolle
is a great hitter with the range of a corner, but he was set back thanks to a
shoulder problem and only made seven tackles in five games. He came up with a
nice first 2007 making 19 tackles as a backup, and now he'll push Blount’s free
safety spot. He outplay Blount in spring ball and should be a big-time producer.
Senior Phillip Nevels was supposed to be the starting free safety, or at
least a key backup, but he only made seven tackles playing behind Gerren Blount.
Now he’ll work more at strong safety where the 5-10, 193-pound former wide
receiver has the speed and the experience to work more in the rotation and in
nickel and dime packages.
The fastest of the ULL defensive backs is senior Junior Jean, who has
4.45 speed but hasn’t done anything in his career. He didn’t make any tackles in
his three games of work after making four in 2007, but he’s too fast and at 6-0,
190 pounds has too much size to not be more of a factor behind Dwight Bentley.
Watch Out For ... Auriene. He had a good year as the team’s top
corner, and even though he has limitations, he should be a stat-sheet filler and
cement himself as the best coverman over the next two years.
Strength: Broken up passes. There wasn’t enough overall
production, but the secondary played a big part in breaking up 33 passes.
There’s plenty of experience, a few good options for all four spots, and good
Weakness: Defending the short pass. The Ragin' Cajuns got picked apart
way too easily for the second year in a row allowing opposing passers to
complete 64% of their throws (again). Part of that was by design, but the
secondary has to be more disruptive and has to pick off more passes after coming
up with a mere nine.
Outlook: The gameplan will stay the same as it has over the last
few years: give up underneath passes, don't get beaten deep, and try to come up
with the one big stop when needed. It hasn’t worked over the last few years,
partly because there hasn’t been any pass rush to help out the cause. There are
some nice players to get excited about, like FS Gerren Blount and corner Orkeys
Auriene. Now the stats have to follow.
was one of the nation's better field goal kickers nailing 28-of-37 over the last
three years, and now it’ll be an on-going battle between junior
Tyler Albrecht and redshirt freshman
Brett Baer for the job. They each
have nice mid-range legs, but it’ll come down to who’s more consistent late this
summer. Albrecht has slightly more range.
The punting game wasn’t bad with junior Spencer Ortego coming off a
strong season averaging 39.1 yards per kick and putting 12 inside the 20. He was
more consistent as he got used to the ULL funky punting formation, and he should
be even better now that he knows what he’s doing.
The punt return game improved by leaps and bounds. CB Orkeys Auriene
averaged 9.3 yards per try and Louis Lee
averaged 26.7 yards per attempt on his three tries. They’re both back, while
Aunene and junior Marlin Miller will
try to improve a kickoff return game that averaged just 19.8 yards per attempt.
Watch Out For ... the placekicker battle. Edmiston didn’t have the
best range, but he was automatic from close. The coaching staff isn’t going to
look for a bomber, but Albrecht and/or Baer have to be consistent.
Strength: The attention. Every coaching staff says it cares about
special teams, but Rickey Bustle and his staff actually mean it. Over the last
few years when there have been problems, they’ve been fixed.
Weakness: Experience at placekicker. While there are two decent
prospects, one has to emerge as the main man. Only one ULL game was decided by
three points or fewer, but that doesn’t mean a reliable kicker isn’t necessary.
Outlook: The special teams were among the Sun Belt’s worst in
2007, improved in all areas in 2008, and now should be decent, if not
spectacular. There’s always a lot of tinkering going on, and it should pay off
with a good return game, especially on punts, a solid punting game with Spencer
Ortego coming into his own, and in time, decent production from the