From the Bird’s Nest: Five Keys to Beating Western Kentucky
This one will not be a walk in the park. But really when you get down to it, nothing has been easy for Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns this year. Louisiana comes into their game with Western Kentucky this Saturday riding a six game winning streak, but they’ve had to work awfully hard for each and every win. WKU has won their last two games and they’re a bad spot on a replay away from being 3-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. Arkansas State scored in the final minute to hand the ‘Toppers their only conference loss. For the Cajuns to make it seven in a row, here’s what needs to happen:
WKU has lost 16 straight at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Both of their wins last year and both this year have been road games. Randy Lee, the play-by-play voice for WKU, says it’s really become a mental thing. The Cajuns have to start strong and get that “here we go again” vibe in the heads of the Hilltoppers’ players.
The Cajuns’ defense did an outstanding job on North Texas’ Lance Dunbar last week. But they’ll have their hands full with Bobby Rainey, the Sun Belt’s best running back. WKU will be stubborn about giving Rainey the football because they believe he’s good enough to lead them downfield even if they’re behind. Look for Rainey to get it 30-40 times as a running back. He also is their leading receiver. WKU isn’t afraid to give him the football even on third and long. And, many times, he’s converted. He’s shifty, he’s tough and he never fumbles the football.
If there’s one part of the Cajuns’ statistically that’s been a disappointment this year, it’s their inability to convert on third down. Louisiana is next to last in the league at 33%. They must be better than that this week against a very stingy WKU defense.
Sophomore Andrew Jackson might be the best linebacker in the Sun Belt. He has eleven tackles for loss and can really wreak havoc on an offense. Just as the Cajuns did with Troy’s Jonathan Massaquoi, Louisiana has to make sure Jackson doesn’t become the star of the game.
The Cajuns’ kicking game has been very good this year. But Western Kentucky leads the Sun Belt in kickoff returns and is third in punt returns. Covering those kicks will be critical in order to deny field position to the Hilltoppers.