A Quick Look at the Cajuns’ Home Schedule – From the Bird’s Nest
Football season is finally here.
And, I don't know about everyone else, but I'm ready to erase the taste that 4-8 put in my mouth a year ago. Of course, no one is more wanting to erase the taste than the Louisiana football team. Last year's Cajuns never could get a quarterback to step up, had issues with injury and depth on the offensive line, suffered growing pains on the defensive line, couldn't get off the field on third down and couldn't get takeaways.
Other than that, they were great.
Everyone believes, or at least wants to believe, the Cajuns will be better. Usually, how much better is determined by your record at home. That "win all your home games" mantra of Mark Hudspeth's ran aground last year as the Cajuns went 3-3, and they were favored in all three games they lost.
They're not going to be favored in all their home games this year. Let's take a capsule look at the home schedule:
BOISE STATE--SEPT 3, 11:00 am--The Cajuns, as of this writing, are 19.5 point underdogs, and there's a reason for that. Boise State is loaded offensively, where they return eight starters, including QB Brett Rypien (3,353 yds, 20 TD) and running back Jeremy McNichols (1,337 yds., 20 TD). There are some questions up front defensively, but their linebacking corps is probably the best in the Mountain West. This is a team that could average over 40 ppg game. Put in your order for lots of heat and humidity now. This will not be the four loss team they were a year ago.
McNEESE STATE--SEPT 10--6pm---Ah yes, the Cowboys. Long time Cajun fans have never gotten over the domination of the blue and gold during the 70's and early 80's. And, they haven't forgotten the 2007 game when the Cajuns were a turnover machine and McNeese won by three touchdowns. Last year's McNeese team may have been able to beat last year's Cajun team. But while the bulk of the MSU defense returns, there are question marks on the offensive side of the ball. The Cajuns should win this game. Expect a big pre game speech from assistant coach Mike Desormeaux before this one.
SOUTH ALABAMA--SEPT 17--6pm--Home team has dominated this series and last year the Jags took a 32-25 win in Mobile. Dallas Davis has won the quarterback job and has a good wideout (Josh Magee) and an NFL-caliber tight end in Gerald Everett. South has some questions up front offensively and defensively. The improved Cajuns offense will be a key here.
APPALACHIAN STATE--OCT 12--7pm--The Mountaineers have won both meetings since joining the Sun Belt, and neither game has been close. QB Taylor Lamb and RB Marcus Cox are both back and they form a lethal 1-2 punch for the offense. There are holes to fill at wide receiver, but not many defensively, where the aptly named John Law is the league's best player on defense. There's a reason why this team won eleven games last year. And, there's a reason why they're picked as the co-favorite this year as well. Obviously, the Cajuns want a good showing in this nationally-televised Wednesday night game.
IDAHO--NOVEMBER 5--(HC)--4pm--Teams haven't met since 2004 when the Vandals took their only win in the series, a game played in the Kibbie Dome. Idaho improved to four wins last season and the Cajuns will have to be leery of QB Matt Linehan, who has thrown for 5,400 yards the past two seasons. There's a talented receiving corps as well. Replacing RB Elijhaa Penny is a task, but their OL is solid. The questions are on defense especially in the front seven.
ARKANSAS STATE--NOVEMBER 26--Time TBA--Everybody's back on the offensive line and although the Red Wolves most of their skill starters, Blake Anderson has brought in plenty of transfers to pick up the slack. The diminutive Warren Wand takes over the top spot at running back after getting 709 yards coming off the bench last season. This team is solid in all facets of the game. But cheer up. Arkansas State has won only once in Lafayette since 1992. This is a series the home team has owned.
On paper the Cajuns look like a favorite in three games and an underdog in three games. Of course, lots can happen between now and the time the teams play. But if the Cajuns are going to have a winning record and play in a bowl game, they may have to pull an "upset"...if there is such a thing at Cajun Field.