A Look at the Cajuns’ Road Schedule – From the Bird’s Nest
Yesterday, I took a look at the Cajuns' home schedule, which features three straight at Cajun Field to open the season. Of course, that means six of the last nine are on the road. Here's a gaze at that road schedule.
at TULANE--September 24, Time TBA--For the first time, the Cajuns will play at Yulman Stadium on the Tulane campus. And, no one is really sure what the Greenies have in store. They're picked at or near the bottom in their division of the American, but it's a new coaching staff and a new philosophy. Willie Fritz comes in from Georgia Southern and had success both there and at Sam Houston State. He ran a spread option offense at GS and we expect he's going to have some sort of option attack. At least we think so. By the time the teams play, the Cajuns will have video on what the Wave is doing. But whatever it is, it won't be easy to prepare for it in one week. The Cajuns have more talent. We'll see how that translates.
at NEW MEXICO STATE---OCT 1--7pm--Of the eight losses the Cajuns had last year, none was more head scratching than the loss to New Mexico State. Don't get me wrong, the Aggies were a solid offensive team a year ago. But they were not good on defense. Not. Good. Doug Martin loves his wide receivers, and with Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Larry Rose III in the backfield, NMSU is going to score a lot of points. But again, their defense is not good. Not. Good. We'll see how the Cajuns respond to their first plane ride of the season.
at TEXAS STATE--OCT 22--6pm--The three games between the two schools since the Bobcats entered the Sun Belt have been won by the Cajuns...and none of them have been close. Exit Dennis Franchione, enter Everett Withers from James Madison. The Bobcats lost quite a few seniors and then they lost a bunch more players when Withers decided they weren't the right fit for the kind of program he wanted to run. Outside of QB, they'll be all new faces, skill wise. There aren't many starters back defensively either. This will be a process for Withers, and I think the Bobcats made a good hire. But this is most definitely a rebuilding project.
at GEORGIA SOUTHERN--NOV 10, 6:30pm--The first ever meeting between the two programs takes place in Statesboro on national television (ESPNU). Tyson Summers takes over for Willie Fritz and the young, enthusiastic coach says he'll continue to be option-based on offense. Not all options are the same, but the Cajuns will have plenty of video to look at. But like Tulane, it's not easy to prepare for that kind of offense in one week. Unlike Tulane, there's a lot of talent to run it at Georgia Southern. They have two quarterbacks who can thrive in Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw, and Matt Breida is an all-conference back. It's the toughest road conference game on the slate.
at GEORGIA--- NOV 19, Time TBA--Two weeks...two trips to the Peach State. If you're going to play one of these teams, late in the season is the best time, when you become a distraction in the middle of two important games. Kirby Smart's club has Auburn the week prior, and their annual meeting with Georgia Tech the following week. That's the good news. The bad news...Nick Chubb is healthy and you know Kirby Smart's team is going to be really good defensively.
at ULM--Dec. 3, 2pm---Matt Viator takes over in Monroe after a great career at McNeese State. The veteran coach is walking in with his eyes open. He knows the Warhawks have a lot of work ahead of them. They lost most of their defensive starters, and that side of the football was actually ULM's strength the last couple of years. Garrett Smith returns at quarterback and ULM has some talent at the receiver position. Viator is hoping the offensive line, which has been a real liability the last two years, is much better. My feeling is ULM will be better than people think. But there's precious little depth on this team and you wonder what they'll have left in the tank in their final game.
Winning on the road is never easy. To me, the interesting thing about the road schedule is the Cajuns play the three teams picked at the bottom of the Sun Belt all away from home. No win on the road is a gimme...but the Cajuns will be favored in all three games. If they take care of business and get that one at Tulane, that game against ULM won't be their final game of the year.