2010 CFN Louisiana Preview - Offense
Louisiana TE Ladarius Green
Louisiana TE Ladarius Green
Posted May 6, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Offense

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The offense that was so dominant for the ground game a few years ago struggled to find its groove last year. It was solid throwing the ball with Chris Masson emerging as a nice passer, but the rushing attack turned into a committee approach that didn't really work. Expect more of the same. The great line of last year loses three key starters and might need a while to figure out what it's doing, while there will be a steady rotation of runners including from backup quarterbacks Blaine Gautier and Brad McGuire in a Wildcat formation. The receiving corps might not be anything special, but tight end Ladarius Green should be an all-star.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Masson
222-373, 2,406 yds, 10 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Yobes Walker
116 carries, 412 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Marlin Miller
32 catches 533 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Chris Masson
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OT Colin Windsor
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Leonardo Bates
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Jonathan Decoster
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Masson, 2) TE Ladarius Green, 3) WR Marlin Miller
Strength of the offense: Several Options In the Backfield, Line Size
Weakness of the offense: Sure-Thing No. 1 RB, Sure-Thing No. 1 WR


Projected Starter: The starting quarterback job was Brad McGuire's last offseason, but junior Chris Masson quickly took over and made the gig his completing close to 60% of his passes for 2,406 yards and ten touchdowns with eight interceptions. The 6-2, 201-pounder is mobile, but he's not the typical Cajun running quarterback with just 192 yards to go along with six short touchdowns. Now that he knows what he's doing, the coaching staff will allow him to take more chances with the passing game, but he'll be part of a rotation when it comes to running the ball.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Blaine Gautier is the runner in the equation. While he'll likely rotate with Brad McGuire when it's time for the Wildcat formation, the 6-0, 202-pounder will be the more dangerous option on the ground with tremendous speed and quickness. He completed 9-of-17 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in a limited role, and he ran for just 24 yards and a touchdown. He'll get more work this year in a variety of roles.

6-2, 180-pound sophomore Brady Thomas will likely be the odd man out. He has a big arm and good upside, but he's not an elite runner and will have a tough time seeing action with the rotation expected at quarterback and with Masson firmly entrenched as the starter.

Watch Out For … the Wildcat. Masson is the starting quarterback, but the coaching staff wants to use Gautier and McGuire to run the ball from time to time to both mix up the offense and to save Masson from getting hit. The goal is to get a full, healthy season out of Masson.
Strength: Options. There's a little of everything to prepare for with Masson able to do everything relatively well, Gautier a dangerous No. 2 option, McGuire a veteran reserve who can step in and produce at any time, and Thomas a passer to throw into the mix if the team needs more downfield plays.
Weakness: Efficiency. Masson threw for plenty of yards, but the Cajuns were 80th in the nation in passing efficiency. With the emphasis on the ground game this year, Masson has to make things happen through the air when he has the chance.
Outlook: Masson might not be the best quarterback in the Sun Belt, but he's one of the best passers and came close to setting the school record for completions last year. There are several good options in what should be an interesting situation to keep defenses guessing.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: It's going to be a running back by committee approach, but the No. 1 option of the bunch appears to be junior Julian Shankle, a 5-10, 202-pound speedster who got a little work in seven games and ran for just 38 yards and a score. He had a great spring showing off the quickness and wheels that made him such a strong recruit, but now he has to prove he can handle the workload on a regular basis.

The fullbacks and the tailbacks are almost interchangeable in the ULL offense. However, senior Matt Desormeaux is a blocker. He saw time in ten games and only got one carry for -1 yard and caught two passes for 15 yards and a score. At 6-1 and 232 pounds he's a bruiser whose job is to thump open holes for the backs. He has the experience and the skill to be more of a short-range receiver, but his job is to hit someone.

Projected Top Reserves: If Julian Shankle is the No. 1 option, then Yobes Walker is No. 1A. The 5-11, 200-pound sophomore originally committed to Houston, but he switched at the last second and the Cajuns are just now about to reap the rewards. With a good mix of speed and power, Walker can run inside and out showing a little bit of production finishing second on the team with 412 yards and two touchdowns and catching four passes for 31 yards. He has the potential and the talent to be a special back if he plays up to his skills.

The offense's most interesting player is Brad McGuire, a quarterback who was supposed to be the main man starting last season but ended up being used in a hybrid role of fullback, H-Back, and running quarterback. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, but he was far more effective on the ground finishing third on the team with 197 yards and seven scores. He'll be used as a Wildcat quarterback as well as a runner.

Three new recruits are expected to be used right away. Robert Walker was good enough this spring to be in the hunt for the starting tailback job, but he suffered a hamstring injury and was limited. At just 5-7 and 173 pounds, he's a smallish speedster who ran for 2,041 yards and 27 touchdowns last year for Mamou High in Louisiana.

Aaron Spikes is the one of the team's top recruits with 5-9, 182-pound size and phenomenal quickness. He moved from running back to safety last year, but he'll be a runner this year for the Cajuns.

Kevin Streeter is a top JUCO transfer who isn't all that big at 5-8 and 180 pounds, but he runs with surprising power and can be used as a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. He'll get a chance to be a kick returner after coming up with five scores for Iowa Western CC last year.

Watch Out For … the new guys. The coaching staff isn't going to be afraid to give the workload to a new recruit. Spikes is too good to keep off the field, while Walker and Streeter should play big roles.
Strength: Options. It's not a stretch to say the top running back job is open to about seven candidates. There will be several chances for everyone to get a shot at the spot.
Weakness: A ton of proven production. 19 players got carries last season for a rushing attack that went nowhere fast gaining just 1,643 yards and 19 touchdowns averaging 3.6 yards per try. And that was working behind a great offensive front.
Outlook: It's a strength in numbers situation as the Cajuns will be relying on several different backs, and a few quarterbacks, to come up with more production on the ground. There isn't a sure-thing top back quite yet, but if one emerges from the pack, he'll get hammered with work.
Unit Rating: 4.5


Projected Starters: After taking a year off to work on his grades, senior Marlin Miller stepped up and became the team's second leading receiver making 37 catches for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Part receiver, part running back, he finished fifth on the team with 184 rushing yards. At 5-11 and 177 pounds he's tall and thin, but he's quick with cut-on-a-dime ability and decent open field moves. Now he's going to be the No. 1 guy in the passing game.

With leading receiver Luke Aubrey gone, the opportunity will be there for junior Pierre Hill to become a top playmaker. At 6-0 and 155 pounds he's a wisp of a target with tremendous speed, and he showed off some good wheels last year averaging 12.4 yards per catch making 14 grabs for 174 yards and a score. He'll never block anyone, but that's not his job.

Junior Ladarius Green is growing into one of the Sun Belt's best tight ends, even though he's more like a huge wide receiver. At 6-6 and 225 pounds he has great height and a fantastic frame, and he has nice hands catching 32 passes for 533 yards and two touchdowns averaging a whopping 16.7 yards per catch. He misses a few games with a knee injury, but he came back to make 12 grabs for 250 yards and two touchdowns, including a 91-yard play against Troy, in the final two games. Great around the goal line, he'll be more of a scorer this year.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Richie Falgout has been a good producer over the last few years, and while he only saw time in seven games last year, catching 18 passes for 221 yards, he has the skills and the experience to be more of a factor. A smart player who always gets open, he's a good third down option with decent 6-0, 190-pound size. He has to get over an ankle problem, though, to be 100%.

Sophomore Javone Lawson stepped in and saw time as a true freshman seeing time in every game making 12 catches for 124 yards and a score. At 6-1 and 173 pounds, he's tall, quick, and has the raw skills to grow into a dangerous deep threat. He'll work in a rotation with Marlin Miller.

Rico Joseph came to ULL for spring ball last year after shining at Coffeyville CC in Kansas, and he was solid catching 22 passes for 178 yards averaging just 8.1 yards per grab.. While he's not big at 5-11 and 165 pounds, he's a gamebreaker with excellent speed and athleticism. However, he's trying to work his way up the depth chart.

Can Brandon Williams be a receiver? At 6-3 and 253 pounds, the sophomore tight end is a big blocker who saw a little bit of time as a freshman, and now he'll be used more as a larger option who can be more physical and become a short-range target.

Watch Out For … Miller to emerge as a top threat. The Cajuns spread the ball around a bit and aren't going to lock on to any one receiver on a regular basis unless Miller becomes the man. With so many rushing options, the running game doesn't need Miller to be much of a ball-carrier, and now he has to become a true No. 1 for the offense to count on.
Strength: JUCO depth. There are several decent backup options, and when the backups are former JUCO transfers like Vernon Wolfe, who caught two touchdown passes last year, and Joseph in a short-range role, there's good depth.
Weakness: Scorers. At the moment, there isn't a great touchdown option on a corps that came up with just 14 scoring grabs and loses three of them with Luke Aubrey gone. On the plus side, there isn't one guy for defenses to key on, but there isn't anyone the offense can assume will make big plays.
Outlook: Last season was supposed to be a transition period and the receiving corps wasn't bad. Now there's plenty of experience and good upside with good-looking targets in Hill, Falgout, Miller, and Green. The passing game will spread the ball around, but considering the offense will butter its bread with the ground attack there have to be more deep plays.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The line needs some retooling, and the biggest move will be guard Ian Burks moving from guard to center to take over from first-team All-Sun Belt star Chris Fisher. He has 31 career starts with one in the middle, and now. The 6-4, 286-pound senior has hit the weights hard early in his career but he has remained quick and tough. A versatile leader, he might not be the most talented player up front, but he'll be the most important.

The Cajuns are going to rotate the guards with sophomore Leonardo Bates getting the first look at left guard replacing first-team all-star Brad Bustle. The 6-5, 319-pound Bates is one of the team's biggest players and is the second biggest offensive lineman, and he got seven games of work as a true freshman. He's not going to move anywhere, but he's a road grader.

Bates is big, but sophomore Jaron Odom is truly massive. The 6-7, 337-pounder is a big tall for a guard, but he blots out the sun and can erase defenders just by leaning on them. He's not going to get to the second level on a regular basis, but his job will be to open holes by shoving people aside in a phone booth.

The only other returning starter, other than now-center Ian Burks, is senior Jonathan Decoster, a 31-game starter who's one of the league's best pass blockers. An honorable mention all-star in 2008, he had a nice season last year and didn't get the recognition he deserved. At 6-5 and 301 pounds, he's a big blocker who engulfs in the running game and is quick enough to handle elite pass rushers well.

Colin Windsor got a little bit of time in seven games last year and is more than ready to take over at left tackle for Kyle Pirtle. He can see time at either tackle spot, and at 6-5 and 290 pounds the senior has proved he can handle himself well at either spot. Strong, he's able to move to guard if absolutely needed.

Projected Top Reserves: The guards will be in a steady rotation, and the main option in the rotation will be junior Kyle Plouhar, a massive 6-7, 307-pound blocker who was a key reserve in every game last season. A tough leader who could easily step in at left guard and become a starter if needed, he might not get the opening tip call, but he might end up seeing around 40% of the time to keep everyone fresh.

Sophomore Evan Ruiz didn't see any time as a redshirt freshman, and now he'll be a key backup both at guard and center. The 6-5, 305-pounder has nice size and will start out working at right guard, but will move around where needed. He'll eventually become a key starter.

Watch Out For … Decoster to earn all-star status again. He was overshadowed a bit last year by other top players on the line, but now he could grow into a special tackle who earns first-team honors.
Strength: Size and pass protection. This is a big line that should have few problems getting physical, and it's been great at manhandling the speedy rushers. The Cajun line allowed just 13 sacks on the year.
Weakness: The loss of Chris Fisher and Brad Bustle. Two special players who were the keys to last year's great line aren't going to be easy to replace. There are good options and decent prospects, but it's going to take some patching and a lot of luck to find production from players as good as those two longtime stalwarts.
Outlook: The line was among the best in the Sun Belt last season, especially against pass rushers. The run blocking struggled and now the line needs to find a way to use its girth a bit better. There will be a good guard rotation with Burks moving to center, while the tackles will be solid.
Unit Rating: 5.5

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