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Five Keys to Beating Arkansas State – From the Bird’s Nest

Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport

Coaches will tell you the next game is the biggest game of the year because it’s the next game.

I’m not a coach.

Tuesday night is the biggest game of the year for both Arkansas State and Louisiana. It will be hard for the winner to not win at least a piece of the Sun Belt championship.

But before the Cajuns go and get fitted for rings, here are some things I think need to happen.

LET THE BIG DOGS EAT–The Cajuns’ offensive line showed what they’re capable of last week in the win over Western Kentucky, especially in the second half. Arkansas State has shown they can be susceptible against the run. If the Cajuns are to win the game, they have to run the football. It’s up to those big guys up front to repeat last week’s success.

DON’T LET OKU GO CUCKOO – The Arkansas State running back is a good one. He hasn’t run the ball as much as he did under Gus Malzahn, but Oku could be the key in this game. Keep him in check and you’ve got a really good chance to put Arkansas State into must-pass downs. Arkansas State has given up the most sacks in the league this year.

COVER TWO – Receivers, that is. J. D. McKissic and Julian Jones have combined for 71 catches and nearly 800 yards receiving on the season. Jones is the better deep threat, while ASU uses McKissic to move the chains. However the Cajuns choose to scheme them defensively, the first order of business is not to get beat deep.

HAVE A NO RETURN POLICY – Arkansas State leads the league in kickoff returns. McKissic is extremely dangerous in both the kickoff and punting games. The best way to neutralize that is simply don’t let him return anything. Hunter Stover’s leg is going to be important here, as is Daniel Cadona’s height on his punts. Hunter, we know you love to make tackles on the kickoff team but touchbacks would be a good thing this week.

NOT MUCH MARGIN FOR ERROR – The Cajuns are +9 in turnover margin this year. In the last two games vs. Arkansas State, they’ve been minus NINE. (10 turnovers, one takeaway). Arkansas State is a good football team and capable of beating the Cajuns, especially at Liberty Bank Stadium where they have a long winning streak. If the Cajuns don’t help them, they’ll be in much better shape to leave Jonesboro with a win…and most likely…a championship.

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