Five Keys to Beating Akron – From the Bird’s Nest
Louisiana's win over Nicholls last week certainly gave the offense a needed shot in the arm and showcased the Cajuns' running game. Now the Cajuns head to Akron to take on a team that will be playing with confidence after their near-miss last week against Michigan. The last time the Cajuns were in Ohio, they braved some awful weather to dispatch Kent State on their way to an 8-4 season. Well, guess what? The weather forecast isn't great this time around either. (70% chance of rain, high temp 66.) That may or may not alter the Cajuns' game plan. Either way, here are some things the Cajuns need to do in order to have another happy trip home from the Buckeye State.
1. PROTECT THE QUARTERBACK--Akron has a pretty effective and very active defensive front which has opened some things for the rest of the defense. They're averaging nearly three sacks per game. When Terrance Broadway goes back to throw the football, the O-Line and other protectors must do exactly that.
2. VALUE FIRST AND SECOND DOWN--This kind of goes hand in hand with #1. If the Cajuns are effective on first and second down and are faced with third and short, it will certainly do its part in negating that pass rush. That opens up play action and gives Broadway a good chance to move the chains.
3. READ IT AND MAKE EM WEEP-- Akron's active front could open up a few things in the run game. The Zips did a nice job last week against a Michigan team that lined up and ran right at them. The Cajuns have more team speed than Akron. Using it via the zone read and getting players to the outside could really pose some problems.
4. MAKE EM EARN IT--Now, I'm not suggesting Cajun DB's play 10-15 yards off receivers like they did in Manhattan, but making Akron earn what they get is paramount. The Zips haven't gotten a lot of big plays out of their running game, but that spread offense is very capable. The Cajuns must not let receivers get behind them and give up something cheap.
5. WATCH THIRD DOWN--As mentioned above, the Cajuns offense wants to be in third and short. But watch Akron on third down. They're at 53% on third down conversions this season so far. It's up to the Cajuns defense to get that percentage under what the UL offense will do. If the Cajuns are better offensively on third down than Akron, they've got a very good chance to win.
As stated earlier, Akron will be a confident, motivated team after last week. But the reality is, they're not a good football team. The Cajuns need to play like the road favorite they are. If they do, they'll come back with a W.