From the Bird’s Nest: Baptism Under Fire for the Cajuns
Louisiana travels to Oklahoma State for the premiere of the Mark Hudspeth Era at UL, with kickoff set for 6:05 Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox College Sports and heard over the new Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Radio Network.
Putting it simply, the Cajuns are facing what is probably the best offensive football team in the college ranks. OSU was third in the nation in scoring last year at more than 44 points per game and they averaged 520 yards in offense per contest.
And, ten starters return, including the entire offensive line.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden was in the top ten in quarterback efficiency last year. And there is no better receiver in college football than Justin Blackmon.
On the premiere of his radio show last night, UL football coach Mark Hudspeth said in order to keep OSU from blowing up offensively, the Cajuns' defense has to stay away from the big play. They need to win the battle of field position and make OSU use ten play drives if they're going to score.
Nice plan. But here's a caveat.
Weeden and Blackmon combined for at least one pass of 38 yards or more in EVERY game the Cowboys played last year. Thirteen times. That's not only scary, it's nearly unbelievable.
The plan isn't complicated. The Cajuns want to be efficient and methodical on offense. They want to be consistent in moving the football and put together as many time-consuming drives as they can. To say they must value possession of the football and not turn it over goes without saying. And, they have to be good enough defensively to hold the score down.
Obviously, that's easier said than done.
But OSU was not a defensive powerhouse last year and they did lose some playmakers on defense. With the Cajuns playing their cards close to the vest, OSU has no idea what the Cajuns will do on offense or defense and that's a plus.
Of course, Dana Holgorsen has gone to West Virginia and new OC Todd Monken won't run the show the same way either, so that might be a wash.
We believe the Cajuns will play hard for four quarters. We believe they're a tough football team. Hudspeth has insisted upon that. We're curious about the newcomers and there are a lot of them. Hudspeth is curious as well.
This team will make some mistakes in game one. But this team is also healthy coming in. Depth is a concern, but you play the cards you are dealt.
The Cajuns won't win on Saturday. But, if I may borrow the kool-aid for just a moment, I'd like to take a small sip.
PREDICTION: UL +36.5