Five Keys to Beating Arkansas State – From the Bird’s Nest
Okay, so this is a big one.
And please don't hit me with the coach-speak, "of course it is, it's the next game on the schedule." Save that for the coaches, of which 99 percent of you are not.
This is a big one.
The Cajuns dropped a game against North Texas last week and there's no margin for error if the league championship is your goal. But it's more than that.
The Cajuns have to go on the road for two tough games (ULM, Florida) and then come back home for WKU. A little momentum would be nice.
A win on National TV would be nice, too. Especially after you let one get away last week.
But make no mistake, this one won't be a walk in the park.
The Cajuns turned it over five times in Jonesboro last year and dropped a 30-21 decision to ASU. The Red Wolves haven't won in Lafayette since 1992. But, with apologies to Duran Duran, they're hungry like the wolf. This would be a big win for them, especially since they get to host ULM a couple of Thursdays from now.
If the Cajuns are going to make the white-clad fans happy, here are some things that need to happen.
1. SUCCESS ON THE GROUND--There's a good chance the Cajuns will miss an important part of their offense tomorrow night. That makes it doubly important the Cajuns have success running the football. Having Alonzo Harris back will mean the world to this offense which abandoned the run last week after netting negative yards on six carries in the second half. Harris, and the guys who block for him, could very well be the key in this game.
2. SIXTY MINUTES OF TERRANCE--The quarterback we saw in the second half of the Tulane game and the first half of the North Texas game needs to be at Cajun Field tomorrow night...for four quarters. During that time, Broadway completed a high percentage of passes and was able to do some damage on the ground. The Cajuns will need a big performance from the Cajuns' quarterback.
3. SLOW OKU'S ROLL--Okay, here's my question: Are the Cajuns good against the run or not? They were against the teams they beat. But not very good against teams they lost to, including last week. Oku, the transfer from Tennessee, is one of the two best backs the Cajuns will face in the SBC. If he gets it going, the Cajuns are in deep trouble.
4. RESPECT APLIN...DON'T FEAR HIM---Look, we all know how good Ryan Aplin is. In fact, he's been good his entire career. He and Kolton Browning of ULM are downright scary at quarterback because of their accuracy and mobility. Aplin isn't running as much this year because he's wearing a brace on his knee. Try and keep him in the pocket if you can, but don't panic. Just go play.
5. TIME FOR A BLOCK PARTY?--Arkansas State has been very inconsistent on special teams, especially in the punting game, where they've had two punts blocked this year. In fact, special teams play was the reason games against Memphis and South Alabama were closer than they should have been. My guess is the Cajuns have been working on something this week to get a big advantage at a big time. If they're successful, the Pride of Acadiana will get to play the fight song at a very opportune time.
Of course, as always, winning the turnover battle would be a good thing.