Cajuns Opponents #1–Grambling State
(This is the first of a 12 part series previewing the 2018 opponents for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Today: Grambling State)
Back to Back SWAC Champion Grambling State opens the 2018 season for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns September 1st at Cajun Field.
Grambling has had a renaissance since Broderick Fobbs took over as head coach. The former Cajuns' assistant is 39-11 as he starts his fifth season as head coach. The Tigers were 11-2 last year, losing only to Tulane in their season opener, and then falling to North Carolina A&T in the Celebration Bowl.
The Tigers return 14 starters from that team and ten players were chosen Preseason First Team All-SWAC. They include a wide receiver, tight end, two offensive linemen, three defensive linemen a linebacker, a defensive back and a kicker.
The most highly touted of the bunch is linebacker De'Arius Christmas. The senior was the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year and is predicted to repeat this season. Christmas was an All-Louisiana selection a year ago. He led the team with 88 tackles (17.5 behind the line of scrimmage) and five sacks. Grambling lost some key players defensively, but that unit, which accumulated 48 sacks a year ago, is expected to be the strength of their football team.
There are big question marks on offense with the departure of Devante Kincaid. Voted Co-Offensive Player of the Year in Louisiana a season ago, Kincaid threw for 2,905 yards and 23 touchdowns with only four interceptions. There is plenty of competition for the job. Redshirt sophomore Geremy Hickbottom got some experience a year ago and is in the mix for the starting job. Running back Martez Carter is also gone and Grambling is expected to do that position by committee in 2018.
Picked to win the SWAC again this season, Grambling also plays at Northwestern State before starting conference play.
OUTLOOK: With it being the season opener, don't expect the Cajuns to overlook this bunch. Grambling will bring a very competitive team to Cajun Field and this is the kind of game where sloppy play and turnovers can lead to great disappointment. The Cajuns need to keep the quarterback (whoever it is) upright. If the OL is successful in that regard, the Cajuns should be able to put points on the board. With new personnel at two important positions for the Tigers, the Cajuns will have to adjust on the fly. This is a game that will probably still be close at halftime before the Cajuns pull away after intermission.