2009 CFN Louisiana-Lafayette Preview
Louisiana-Lafayette LB Antwyne Zanders
Louisiana-Lafayette LB Antwyne Zanders
Posted Jul 29, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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

Head coach: Rickey Bustle
7th year: 32-50
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 25, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best ULL Players
1. LB Antwyne Zanders, Sr.
2. C Chris Fisher, Sr.
3. LG Brad Bustle, Sr.
4. LB Daylon McCoy, Jr.
5. TE Ladarius Green, Soph.
6. OT Jonathan Decoster, Jr.
7. DE Hall Davis, Sr.
8. CB Orkeys Auriene, Jr.
9. FS Maurice Rolle, Jr.
10. FS Gerren Blount, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Southern
9/12 Kansas State
9/19 at LSU
9/26 at Nebraska
10/10 North Texas
10/17 at Western Kentucky
10/24 Florida Atlantic
10/31 at FIU
11/7 at Arkansas State
11/14 at Middle Tenn.
11/21 ULM
11/28 Troy

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 6-6

8/30 at So. Miss L 51-21
9/13 at Illinois L 20-17
9/20 Kent State W 44-27
9/27 at Kansas State L 45-27
10/4 at UL Monroe W 44-35
10/11 at North Texas W 59-30
10/18 Arkansas State W 28-23
11/1 FIU W 49-20
11/8 UTEP L 37-24
11/15 at Fla Atlantic L 40-29
11/22 at Troy L 48-3
12/3 Middle Tenn W 42-28

Is it possible a team can lose the Sun Belt Player of the Year, RB Tyrell Fenroy, and the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, QB Michael Desormeaux, and be better? In the case of UL Lafayette, it’s going to happen.

The program has only one more than seven games twice since 1973, hasn’t been to a post-season game since losing to Tennessee State in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl, and is coming off an achingly strong 6-6 season when it had the Sun Belt title there for the taking in mid-November. But the nation’s seventh ranked rushing offense wasn’t enough to overcome the problems.

The defense was a disaster with no pass rush, no big-time production from any one spot, and worst of all, no improvement as the season went on. Injuries played the biggest role, there simply wasn’t any consistency from one week to the next, but the defense was just plain bad. However, it was an improvement from the 2007 group that was next-level bad.

With the adversity came key minutes for young players who needed some seasoning. Now there’s an influx of healthy talent, depth, and enough good players to make for some interesting position battles all year long. But there’s still the issue of the losses in the offensive backfield, along with top receiver Jason Chery.

It’ll all start up front with one of the best lines in the Sun Belt. With all five starters returning and at least three sure-thing all-stars, the new skill players will get more than enough time to operate. There will be a battle between Brad McGuire and Chris Masson for the starting quarterback job up until the opener, while former JUCO transfer Undrea Sails appears ready to blow up as the new top back.

It’s the seventh year in the Rickey Bustle era and it’s time to turn the corner. This is the team that can finally produce the needed seventh win to get to the post-season.

What to watch for on offense: The O line. Starting in the middle with Chris Fisher and with Brad Bustle back at left guard, the Ragin’ Cajuns have two first-team all-stars to start with, and then there’s Jonathan Decoster at right tackle and Kyle Pirtle at left who might end up seeing time on the All-Sun Belt team. This line, if it can stay healthy, will ease the transition at a lot of key positions.

What to watch for on defense: The return of injured players. The linebacking corps was a mess last season, and now it gets back Grant Fleming and Richard Brooks from knee injuries. Maurice Rolle was bothered by a shoulder injury, but now he’s healthy and could push out long-time starter Gerren Blount from the free safety spot. All across the board there are healthy players returning to add depth, options, and talent to a defense that needs a major improvement.

The team will be far better if … it can get to the quarterback from the front line. There wasn’t any semblance of a pass rush last season with just 17 sacks, and four of those came from LB Daylon McCoy. Hall Davis has the potential to be a great pass rusher on one end, but he needs help and there needs to be a surprise star emerging from somewhere. New recruit Tyrell Gaddies could be the one to fill the void.

The Schedule: The non-conference schedule is at least manageable with Southern to kick things off followed up by a visit from a rebuilding Kansas State game. Both are winnable. The Ragin’ Cajuns don’t have enough to beat LSU or Nebraska on the road, but getting North Texas to follow, kicking off the Sun Belt schedule, should help. There’s a brutal stretch of four home runs in five weeks, and six in eight games, but the one home date in the stretch is against Florida Atlantic. The other Sun Belt star, Troy, has to come to Cajun Field to close out the regular season. The other good-looking team, Middle Tennessee, is a road game at the end of the tough stretch. However, it’s the last road trip of the year.

Best Offensive Player: Senior C Chris Fisher. The anchor of the veteran line is the perfect quarterback for the front wall. He earned first-team all-star status last season and will be on the short list of Rimington Award candidates. At 6-3 and 285 pounds he’s not huge, but he’s tough and is great on the move.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Antwyne Zanders. The star of a shaky linebacking corps last season, he’s a big-time hitter both inside and out. The 6-2, 226-pounder will start the season in the middle, but he has the speed and the range to work at either outside position. He tied for the team lead with 69 stops last season, and he should push towards the 100-tackle mark with things funneling inside to him this year.

Key player to a successful season:
Sophomore QBs Brad McGuire and Chris Masson. How do you replace Michael Desormeaux, who completed 63% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but his worth was as a runner with 1,035 yards and five scores. McGuire and Masson won’t run the same way, but they can each throw the ball well and should add more of a vertical passing element to the attack.

The season will be a success if ... it’s a bowl season. There are just enough holes to keep ULL from winning the Sun Belt title, but it wouldn’t be a shocker if things got really interesting in late November when Troy comes to town. The team won six games with no defense and rough play from the special teams, and now the D is better and the offense has decent replacements for the lost skill stars. Eight wins are possible.

Key game: Oct. 24 vs. Florida Atlantic. ULL was 4-0 in Sun Belt play with road games at Florida Atlantic and Troy in make-or-break November games. The 40-29 loss to the Owls hurt title hopes, and then the Trojans ended all the fun with a 48-3 blasting. The FAU game is the lone home oasis in a stretch of four road games, and it could be a must-win to have any dreams of a Sun Belt title.

2008 Fun Stats: 

- Punt returns: UL Lafayette – 11.8 yards per try – Opponents 4.3 yards per try
- Sacks: Opponents 21 for 119 yards – UL Lafayette 17 for 132 yards
- Rushing yards per game: UL Lafayette 263.7 – Opponents 213.2

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