From the Bird’s Nest: To Beat Nicholls State
After a very important win at Kent State last week, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns have their home opener this week against FCS member Nicholls State out of the Southland Conference.
The Cajuns are under .500 against schools from the Southland since 1998. Their last appearance against a school from that league was McNeese State, and we all know how that one turned out.
Nicholls is in its second season under head coach Charlie Stubbs. They were 4-7 a year ago, winning two of their last three. They are 1-1 this year, defeating NAIA member Evangel College and losing to Western Michigan of the MAC last week.
Nicholls relies on their running game and a very athletic quarterback in LaQuintin Caston. Nicholls doesn't like to throw the football and won't throw it much at all if their running game is working. Beau Hebert is Caston's backup and is used in passing situations. Coach Mark Hudspeth expects Hebert to play more this week than he has in the first two. We'll see.
While Nicholls has struggled offensively, they've been pretty good on defense. Their corners, Bobby Felder and Chika Madu, can both play. Madu had a pick six last week. WMU scored five touchdowns last week but only one of their drives was over 60 yards. WMU was just two of nine on third down.
There is no official line on the game and therefore, no prediction this week. If the Cajuns are to get to 2-1, here are the things to look for.
SLOW THE ROLL--Mark Hudspeth's defensive philosophy is to stop the run. And, that's paramount this week. Nicholls isn't good on third and long. The Cajuns defense, which shone last week, needs to get after Caston and the running game.
NO BIG PLAYS--One of the things that's plagued the Colonels is self-destruction. They got over 100 yards in penalties last week. If the Cajuns make Nicholls drive without the big play, there's a good chance the Colonels will find a way to hurt themselves.
CRANK UP THE "O"--The Cajuns really have to have some success in the passing game with Sun Belt play opening next week. Regardless of who the quarterback is, it's time to throw it and show the fans, and most importantly, themselves, that the Cajuns passing game is to be respected. Of course, success in the running game will help that situation.
STOP TURNING IT OVER--The good news is the Cajuns have seven takeaways in two games. The bad news is they have five giveaways. It's time to clean that up. Throw it to the guys in red and don't drop the potato. In their losses to FCS schools, this has been a problem.
This is a game the Cajuns should win. But this is also a game where they have to get better.
Because next week, FIU is waiting.