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Five Keys to Beating South Alabama – From the Bird’s Nest

Brad Kemp Photo
Brad Kemp Photo

The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and South Alabama Jaguars have become big time rivals.

In baseball.  And, to an extent, basketball.

But football is a different story, at least right now.

And, that’s because there is so little history between the two teams.  South Alabama is just in its fifth football season in the Sun Belt Conference.  The rivalry in other sports and the just-under four hour driving distance says this could become a very good rivalry for the two schools.

So far, it’s been about protecting the house.  Louisiana hasn’t lost at Cajun Field against the Jags.  They also haven’t beaten South at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

If that streak is to continue, here are some things that need to happen.

RUN THE FOOTBALL—While statistics are somewhat skewed because of their game with Georgia Southern,, the reality is the Jags, who suffered several injuries to their defensive line before the season began, have been susceptible to the run.  If the offensive line does its job (and they were much improved last week) the Cajuns can have success in the run game.  And, when the Cajuns run it well, they win more often than not.

HAVE YOUR TIMING DOWN—The passing game is frequently all about the right timing between the quarterback and the receivers.  This is especially important this week, as South Alabama’s corners are the cornerstone (pun intended) of the defense.  They’ll look to jump routes to get to the football.  If the timing is off, turnovers in the passing game are very possible.

ALL SINGLES, NO HOMERS—Sophomore quarterback Dallas Davis is a good football player.  And, he’s going to take some shots downfield.  Josh Magee is a very good wideout, but they’ll look to Kevin Kutchera, who has great size at 6’3”, when they’re ready to go deep.  South Alabama is going to complete passes.  The key is not giving up a big one.

CONTAIN DAVIS—Unlike Brett Rypien and James Tabary, Davis isn’t afraid to run and can be very effective when doing so.  Pressure from the front four, which was very effective against McNeese is a must, but so is keeping Davis in the pocket.

DON’T LET THE RUN GAME GET UNTRACKED—Xavier Johnson had a big game against the Cajuns last year.   This year, South Alabama, Johnson in particular, has had trouble running the football.  That has to continue.  If the Jags can run, that vertical passing game becomes a huge threat.  South Alabama is only 31% on third down coming into this week.  Don’t let them get into third and short.  You do that by not letting them run the football.

This is a big game for the Cajuns for a lot of reasons; the opening game of Conference chief among them.  The goal going into the season was being 2-1 after the first three.  This one is vitally important when you talk about playing a thirteenth game.

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