Outlook Not So Rosy For Nicholls
(This is the third in a series previewing Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns opponents for the 2013 season. Today: Nicholls State)
Two years ago, Nicholls State came to Cajun Field in the third game of the season and hung with Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns until a blocked punt in the third quarter broke the game open in a 38-21 Cajuns’ win.
But, coming off a 1-10 season and with their starting quarterback Landry Klann out for the season with an injury, that might be easier said than done.
The Colonels will miss Klann, who averaged 186 yards passing a year ago. Stepping into his shoes will be junior Beaux Hebert (son of Bobby), who played in four games as a reserve a year ago and threw for 315 yards and a touchdown. Tulsa transfer Kaley Handerson is slated to be the back up. Hebert will have experienced receivers to throw to. The Colonels return ten players who recorded ten or more receptions a year ago. Erik Buchanan will be the best deep threat. There’s quality at tight end where Nick Scelfo (22-300-2) was an All-Southland pick a year ago.
Marcus Washington is back at tailback after gaining just under 600 yards a year ago. He also is a receiving threat out of the backfield (25-167-0). Washington has been hobbled with a hamstring during fall workouts, but should be ready to go at the start of the season. Fans will also find a familiar name as one of the backups as Dalton Hilliard, Jr. got a handful of carries a year ago.
There’s experience on the offensive line and the strength should be at the tackle spots, where Abisi Salimu and Erik Alt will be counted on to protect Hebert and open some holes for Washington.
Nicholls will play a 3-3-5 defense this season and the front seven has a lot of question marks. DT Edet Udoh clogs things up in the middle and Lorenza Young had 3.5 tackles for loss last year. Nicholls loses leading tackler Jordan Piper at linebacker and Chris Dermond will head a pretty inexperienced unit.
The strength of the Nicholls defense will be their secondary where a lot of experience returns. Safeties Jordan Hanberry, T. J. Lumar and Siegan Vergenal are all back. Lumar and Vergenal were among the top ten tacklers on the team a year ago. B. J. Lewis, the team’s fifth leading tackler, is the top returnee at corner.
Andrew Dolan is a preseason All-Southland kicker after making seven of his last eight field goals. All told, he was 10-14 on the season. Connor Fryoux, a transfer from Louisiana-Monroe, will be the punter after kicking just six times for the Warhawks last year.
The Colonels were 1-10 last year with their only win over an NAIA school. This year, their schedule opens with Oregon and Western Michigan before coming to Lafayette. Frankly, I don’ t think this team is going to be nearly as good as the one we saw two years ago. Already having lost their starting quarterback, Nicholls will struggle to score points. And, their front seven defensively has a lot of question marks. The Cajuns will be a prohibitive favorite in their home opener.
(Information from geauxcolonels.com contributed to this story.)