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2009 UL Lafayette Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 29, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun Offense

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Preview 2009
- Offense

- 2009 CFN Louisiana-Lafayette Preview | 2009 ULL Offense
- 2009 ULL Defense | 2009 ULL Depth Chart
- 2008 ULL Preview | 2007 ULL Preview | 2006 ULL Preview 

What you need to know:
The Ragin’ Cajuns led the Sun Belt in offense, scoring, and rushing with a devastating attack that averaged 449 yards and 33 points per game. This year, there’s a major, major strength to go along with some ten-mile wide holes to fill. The offensive line will likely be the best in the Sun Belt and it might not even be close with three all-stars, five starters, and good depth returning from a group that blasted away for 264 rushing yards per game. And then there are the skill players. Gone are QB Michael Desormeaux, RB Tyrell Fenroy (the Sun Belt Player of the Year), and WR Jason Chery. Now there’s a major question mark at running back, a search for a No. 1 wide receiver to help out tight end Ladarius Green, and a big concern at quarterback where Brad McGuire and Chris Masson will battle it out for the starting job through the fall.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Brad McGuire
20-30, 233 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Brad McGuire
46 carries, 143 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Ladarius Green
22 catches, 268 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior C Chris Fisher
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Brad McGuire and/or Chris Masson
Unsung star on the rise: Senior RB Undrea Salis
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Brad Bustle
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Fisher, 2) Bustle, 3) TE Ladarius Green
Strength of the offense: Running game, offensive line
Weakness of the offense: Backfield experience, proven No. 1 receiver

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: After finishing last year as the team’s No. 2 quarterback, completing 20-of-32 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, Brad McGuire appeared to be a bit of a sure thing to take over the starting job. However, the 6-2, 218-pound sophomore will have to fight all through the summer and early fall to keep the job even though he had a good spring. While he’s a good runner, his strength is as a pure passer, able to go into drop-back mode just as easily as he can take off. A physical player, he's not going to shy away from contact and will hang in the pocket as long as needed..

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Chris Masson can take over the starting job if he has a strong summer. The 6-0, 200-pounder beefed up over the last year, and while he’s not a bad passer, he’s not McGuire even though he completed 6-of-9 passes for 72 yards in his limited time. He threw a touchdown pass and two interceptions. While he can run, he’s not special at it.

6-0, 200-pound redshirt freshman Blaine Gautier will have an inside track for the No. 3 job and will be given every shot to win the starting spot. A decent passer, his game is about running the ball with excellent speed and quickness. He also has a nice enough passing touch to not be one-dimensional.

Watch Out For ... the starting job to be up in the air until the opener. It’s not like McGuire took the job by the horns this off-season, and Masson was strong late. Nothing has been settled yet. Gautier is the No. 3, but he’ll be given a few chances to earn the job.
Strength: A mix of options. All the quarterbacks can run well and everyone can throw a little bit. But there’s a good mix to work with. McGuire is the passer and Masson and Gautier are stronger runners.
Weakness
:
Michael Desormeaux. While the system helps the quarterback numbers, Desormeaux grew into the job and became special throwing for 1,876 yards and running for 1,035 yards. He’ll be missed.
Outlook: It’s going to be a dogfight for the starting job and it still might be settled even after there’s a No. 1 on the depth chart. Brad McGuire is a strong passer and could become the best thrower the program has had in years, but he’ll have to hold off Chris Masson and Blaine Gautier, who’ll each see plenty of chances to win the job.
Rating: 5

Running Backs


Projected Starters: So who’s going to replace Tyrell Fenroy and his 1,375-yard, 19-touchdown season? Senior Undrea Salis has been waiting his turn to finally be able to do something, and now the former JUCO transfer will get a shot. He only ran for 77 yards in his limited time, but with excellent quickness and 5-8, 200-pound bowling ball size, he could be a solid producer once he’s trusted to carry the ball on a regular basis.

Senior Geoffrey McCullough ended up starting nine times last year after fighting for the No. 2 job to start the season. While he’s not huge, the 5-11, 220-pounder is a pure blocker who won’t get the ball much, if at all. He only ran for two yards and caught a pass for five yards. Now he’ll be used to be even more of a pass protector.

Projected Top Reserves: Draylon Booker will add a bit of flash to the mix. The 6-0, 188-pound redshirt freshman is a tremendous athlete who set high school track records in the long jump. He can catch a little bit, but he’ll mostly be used as an outside the tackles runner.

Redshirt freshman Yobes Walker originally committed to Houston but ended up switching over to ULL at the last second. Now the 5-11, 196-pounder should grow into a decent option with a tremendous blend of speed and power. He has the potential and the talent to be a special back if he lives up to his skills, but he’ll have to keep improving.


Robert Walker
was one of the team’s top recruits this season and he should play a role right away. While he’s only 5-7 and 173 pounds, he runs a 4.4 40 and can be used as a workhorse. While he’s not going to be a No. 1 back early on, he has too much talent to not become a big part of the offense sooner than later.

Watch Out For
...
Booker and Walker. Salis was on the top of the depth chart coming out of spring ball, and he has the talent to be solid, Booker and Walker should be better in time. Neither one took the job this spring, but one of them might do it soon.
Strength: Quickness. There's no size, but everyone can move and everyone can cut on a dime. Give any of them a hole and they’ll get through it with some zip.
Weakness
:
Tyrell Fenroy. All Fenroy did was run for 1,375 yards and 19 touchdowns, and run for 1,000 yards in all four of his years, on the way to the Sun Belt Player of the Year honors. Can Salis, Booker and Walker combine to match Fenroy’s production? It’s a huge question mark.
Outlook: The Ragin' Cajuns ran for 6,183 over the last two years, partially helped by the running of QB Michael Desormeaux, and now the backs will have to pick up the slack with the quarterbacks not likely to run as well. All the new backs are quick and cut on a dime, but there’s almost no experience to count on. There are plenty of options with the hope that one runner shines through, but it might be a committee approach for a while until a new star is found.
Rating: 5

Receivers

Projected Starters: 5-11, 190-pound Louis Lee will go into the fall with a starting spot, but it’s not a lock. One of the team’s top returning receivers, he caught 20 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown as a steady target who grew into the passing game. He’s been around long enough to know what he’s doing and possibly become a No. 1 target, but he’ll have to show something special early on.

Verlin Moore only caught three passes for 15 yards, but he showed enough this spring to earn a spot on top of the depth chart going into the season. The 5-10, 175-pound junior has tremendous speed and has big-time upside, but he’ll be part of a rotation until he can show some consistency.  

In one of the big shockers of the 2008 season, Ladarius Green turned into a solid outlet receiver and a decent blocker. While he’s built like a big wide receiver, the 6-6, 222-pound sophomore is physical and strong around the goal line with 22 catches on the season for 268 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll be the main target early on until the new receivers are ready to take on the responsibility.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Marlin Miller had a good off-season last year and was expected to become a major part of the offense, but he missed the entire year to work on his studies. The 5-11, 185-pounder has mostly seen garbage time, but he’s a promising playmaker who’ll get several opportunities to become the main man.

JUCO transfer Vernon Wolfe is expected to challenge for a starting job and possibly be the new star of the show. The 6-0, 180-pounder from Hinds CC in Mississippi came to school this spring and showed off good skills right away. While he only caught 57 passes and four touchdowns in two seasons, he was a difference maker with good speed and hands.

Rico Joseph came to ULL for spring ball after spending last year at Coffeyville CC in Kansas catching 35 passes for 597 yards and four scores. While he’s not big at 5-11 and 170 pounds, he’s a gamebreaker with excellent speed and athleticism. However, he’ll have to work his way up the depth chart this summer.

Junior Richie Falgout finished third on the team in receiving yards catching 18 passes for 260 yards. While he didn’t get into the end zone, he averaged 14.4 yards per catch and was a steady producer with at least a catch a game over the final nine. A smart player who finds ways to get open, he could emerge as even more of a third down target in the rotation.

Working behind Ladarius Green at tight end will be Luke Aubrey, a solid veteran who caught six passes for 86 yards and three touchdowns,. The 6-5, 247-pound senior is tough around the goal line and he’s a good blocker who can hold his own in two tight end sets.  

Watch Out For ... the JUCO transfers. Are Joseph and Wolfe ready to be big-time producer? They’re not going to be all-stars, but they have enough talent and experience from their time in junior college to be reliable.
Strength: Athletes. There isn’t a lot of size and there’s little reliable experience to count on, but there are some excellent field stretchers who should make a slew of big plays with everyone concentrating on the running game.
Weakness
:
Jason Chery. Chery was supposed to be a nice veteran who would help the passing game when needed, but he turned out to be a special No. 1 target catching 46 passes for 656 yards and two touchdowns. The best returning wide receiver, Lee, only made 20 grabs.
Outlook: It’ll be an open casting call for wide receivers with Jason Chery gone and the lack of overall experience. There are some big positives with Ladarius Grant one of the Sun Belt’s better tight ends and good new players with tremendous potential. Louis Lee, the team’s leading returning wide receiver, only made 20 catches, but he’s good enough to do far more, while JUCO transfers Rico Joseph and Vernon Wolfe could be instant impact producers.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: One of the stars of the star-studded, veteran line, and the leader, will once again be Chris Fisher, a 6-3, 285-pound senior who turned into a rock at center over the last few years. A steady run blocker and a strong quarterback for the front line, Fisher moves well, is great at sniffing out blitzes, and should be a lock for first-team All-Sun Belt honors again if he can stay healthy.

Along with Fisher, 6-3, 302-pound Brad Bustle also earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors even though he was considered iffy early on after suffering a knee injury. The former defensive lineman has been a devastating run blocker at left guard and is strong on the move. While he beefed up over the last two years and should be more physical, he can still run well.

6-6, 300-pound senior Kyle Pirtle has all-star potential at left tackle. While he’s not the best all-around blocker on the line, he’s just average in pass protection, he’s a good athlete who could grow into an All-Sun Belt selection on his run blocking alone. A knee injury was a little bit of a concern early last year, but he came through fine. Now he’s healthy, and now he should be a go-to blocker helping Bustle make the left side a rock.

Junior Jonathan Decoster was an honorable mention All-Sun Belt performer with a strong combination of size, smarts, and quickness. At 6-5 and 305 pounds, he’s a big, engulfing run blocker who dominated at times and should be one of the team’s steadier players.

Ian Burks stepped in at right guard and started 11 games last season, growing into the job even though he missed the late game against Florida Atlantic with a back problem. He hit the weights hard over the last year beefing up to 295 pounds on his 6-3, frame, but he appears to have maintained his quickness. If needed, he can play center and was tried out there this spring for a stretch.

Projected Top Reserves: Looking to see more time will be last year’s star recruit Jaron Odom, who sat out last season and will be a star on the inside in the near future. While he’s big, too big, at 6-7 and 346 pounds, he’s a huge blocker who should be great for the ground game at right guard. Even with his massive size, he’s considered just athletic enough to play tackle if needed.

Working at times at right tackle will be Colin Windsor, a 6-5, 290-pound junior who got a start late last year in place of Jonathan Decoster and was versatile enough to see a little action at guard. A valuable reserve and spot starter, he was missed late in the year when he suffered a thumb injury that cost him the final two games.

Watch Out For ... a good rotation at several spots. While the starting five should be set, everyone will stay fresh with players like Windsor and Odom good enough to start.
Strength: Experience. Not only are there five returning starters, but there are three all-stars and possibly a fourth in Pirtle. This is a tight group that stayed surprisingly healthy, considering almost everyone was hurt last off-season, that’ll blast the heck out of everyone with the running game.
Weakness
:
Pass protection. It’s not a bad line in pass protection, but considering passing wasn’t a big priority for the offense, giving up 21 sacks wasn’t great. To be fair, some of the sacks came from Michael Desormeaux trying to buy time and make something happen, but the line could stand to be a bit better.
Outlook: Only injuries can prevent this from being one of the Sun Belt’s better lines, if not the best. With first-team all-stars in Chris Fisher and Brad Bustle to start with, another star in Jonathan Decoster, and two other strong starters in Ian Burks and Kyle Pirtle who are rock solid, run blocking won’t be a problem. There’s even some good depth to count on for down the road and to create a good rotation now. This will be the team’s biggest strength by a long shot.
Rating: 7