Five Keys to Beating App State – From the Bird’s Nest
This one isn't going to be easy.
For the second time this year, Louisiana (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) is a double-digit underdog at home as they take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-2, 1-0) at Cajun Field Wednesday night.
The Cajuns were beaten in double overtime in their last outing, falling to New Mexico State, while the Mountaineers flexed their muscle defensively en route to a 17-3 win over Georgia State.
If the Cajuns are going to pull an upset, here's what to look for
GOTTA TURN EM OVER -- I haven't really mentioned turnovers much in these weekly previews because turnover margin is always a key. But this week, it's a necessity. It's going to be hard to drive the ball against this App defense and getting good field position is going to be a key, here. I don't think the Cajuns can win this game with a zero turnover margin and they certainly aren't going to win if they are in the minus. The Cajuns' defense, which has played well overall, needs to get takeways while the offense has to value possession of the football.
MATCH THEIR PHYSICALITY--App is good on both sides of the football up front, but the big key is the Mountaineers front line on defense against the Cajuns' O-line. App has only lost that battle one time in five games. The Cajuns have to be as physical as the Mountaineers are. I think they can do that when Louisiana is on defense. But they have to do it offensively as well. Easier said than done, especially if OT Grant Horst can't go.
SLOW THEIR ROLL--What's impressive about App State is they've run the football without All-Conference senior Marcus Cox, who has missed the last two games. Jalin Moore has more than just filled in; he's been as good as Cox. We think we'll see Cox this week, but App has shown it doesn't matter. The Cajuns have been very good overall against the run this year. That has to continue if Louisiana is to have a chance in this one.
GET OFF TO A GOOD START--We don't know what the crowd will be like, with the game on a week night and the Cajuns coming off two straight losses. But the Cajuns need to keep the crowd in the game. Getting off to a good start would help. It would also give a boost to the Cajuns' offense, whose egos are a bit bruised after the last two games.
GIVE JENNINGS A CHANCE--The Cajuns lead the league in sacks. App is second. But it isn't just about sacks. Jennings has been shaky the last two games and after being benched in favor of Jalen Nixon last week, he could use a confidence boost. Having some time to throw the football would help. Be careful of DE Antavious (Tee) Sims. He has five sacks on the season, best in the league.
The Cajuns have lost a pair of games they could have, and probably should have, won. Maybe it's time to get one that few around the league think they can get.