July 17, 2008

Bring on the Ragin' Cajuns




















Kent
State at Louisiana-Lafayette


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time 7:00 p.m.

Cajun Field "The Swamp", Lafayette, La.

(ProGrass/Capacity 31,000)

Radio/TV: WNIR 100.1 FM


THE
SERIES
This is the first time
the two schools have will meet, which makes this the second game
of the season that the Golden Flashes will have played a program
for the first time. The Flashes will have opened with Boston
College.

A
LOOK AT THE LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE RAJIN' CAJUNS

Entering his seventh season as head coach, Ricky Bustle
has done a salvage job on what was arguably the worst football
program
in
the country. If Kent State is looking at last season's 3-9 season,
then the Golden Flashes won't be looking at the big picture. Prior
to the disappointing 2007 season, the Cajuns had back-to-back six-win
seasons.





Quarterback Michael Desormeaux passed and rushed for 1,000
yards in 2007.

The Cajuns have mixed up their coaching staff, and for the
third season in a row will be sporting a new offensive coordinator.
Former offensive line coach Ron Hudson takes over after Blake Anderson
left for Southern Mississippi. The Cajuns play a no-huddle style
offense, and will continue that scheme under Hudson with little
change in terminology. That's a good thing considering the team
had 31 underclassmen on it's roster, including 21 freshmen who
played, and six who started.




There's no doubt who the stars of this team are, and both are seniors.
Quarterback Michael Desormeaux and running back Tyrell
Fenroy are both returning 1,000 yard rushers. Fenroy will
attempt to make history by becoming the seventh player ever to
record four 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a college career. The
5-foot-9 back looks more like a linebacker in his picture, and
will be the adrenalin for a very good rushing offense.




Offense was not the reason the Cajuns won just three games in
2007. Saying the defense was poor is an insult to the word. The
Cajuns
defense gave up 35.8 points a game last season (106 ranked),
4467.7 yards a game (104th nationally) and 228.4 rushing yards
a game
(113th nationally). The Cajuns lost eight games by double digits,
including a 21-point loss to McNeese State, a Division II team.
It's a surprise that first year defensive coordinator Kevin Fouquier
still has any hair at all. The Cajuns run a 4-3 defense, and
Fouquier now has full-control over defensive play calling, something
he
apparently didn't have last season.


WHEN
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE HAS THE BALL


The old Bill Clinton campaign ad said "It's the economy,
stupid." Well, Cajun coaches won't tell opposing coaches
it, but Sun Belt coaches will say, "it's the running game,
stupid.






Running
back Tyrell Fenroy is seeking his fourth straight 1,000-yard
season.


The Cajuns have a somewhat successful history with passing quarterbacks,
look at Carolina Panthers' QB Jake Delhomme; but Desormeaux is
not one of them. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound signal caller rushed
for 103.7 yards a game, second in the conference. He finished
with 1,141 rushing yards. Desormeaux passed for 1,404 yards
and 10 touchdown passes, while throwing 10 interceptions. Even
though
Hudson has acknowledged that the no huddle offense will include
more passing, it's unlikely that Desormeaux will lose a lot
of rushing attempts.




Fenroy finished second on the team in rushing, with 1,021 yards
and seven touchdowns. Compare his stats with Desormeaux, and
fans will ask: Who is the quarterback and who is the running
back. Both had seven rushing touchdowns, Desormeaux had a 86-yard
carry, while Fenroy had 69-yard run. Fenroy rushed for about
11 yards less then his quarterback.




The next question is: What is their offensive line like? The
Cajuns return six offensive linemen who have started. Last
season, the Cajuns struggled with injuries on the line, but
it didn't
damage the running game. Depth is a big issue. Considering
this game is in the middle of the season, the fact that the
Cajuns
had eight offensive linemen on it's spring roster and
will have nine-playable linemen for the start of the season
is a concern.
None of the linemen are seniors.




Kent State has been successful against the run the past few
seasons. After having faced the three-headed attack of Iowa
State in week
two, the Flashes should be prepared. But it's not that easy.
The Flashes haven't faced a running quarterback so
far and will be challenged with one of the best in the country.
Top it off with a fast-paced offense, and there could be trouble.
A concern here would be play-action. Hudson saying he wants to
pass more is like Lance Armstrong saying he rides a bike well.
Of course the offense would like to utilize the play-action game.
With a receiving corp that resembles Kent State's in a lot of
ways, the Flashes would like to get their under-sized but fast
receivers down field. Kent State will have played one of 2007's
best passing teams in Boston College, and should have been
tested plenty of times by this game. Although this is running
defense,
it could be the passing game that dooms the Flashes and their
young secondary.


WHEN
KENT STATE HAS THE BALL


Based on last season, the Flashes could have a big day. When
the nation's top returning rusher from 2007 plays one of
the nation's worst rushing defenses of 2007, it's easy to say junior
running back Eugene Jarvis could put up big numbers.
The Flashes appear to have a similar style of offense to the
Cajuns. A talented quarterback when the play breaks down. A solid
power back as the cog. All behind a offensive line that is both
young and big. The difference is the Flashes pass more, and will
try to pass more. Senior Jameson Konz will have been
either a successful transition or a non-factor by this time at
tight end, and his play will singlehandedly dictate what the
offense can do throughout the season.


Still, with Jarvis and sophomore Andre Flowers playing
against a rushing defense that has had little success in recent
history, expect a lot of hand offs.




It may be a good thing, but the Cajuns must replace three starters
on it's defensive line, including both defensive ends. Junior
Hall Davis and sophomore Terrell Richardson
are penciled in as starters after spring practice. Freshman Derrick
Dean, a 6-foot , 275-pounder, could play at defensive tackle.
Dean has a 4.6 40 time, which could disrupt the misdirection
running game of Kent State.




The strength of the defense will be its linebackers. The
Cajuns return their starters, including Antwyne Zanders,
who had 93 tackles in 2007. The weakness may be the defensive
backfield. The Cajuns replace all but junior free safety Gerren
Blount in the backfield. The unit was the lone bright spot
for the Cajuns' defense in 2007, ranking 43rd in passing yardage
allowed. But when a team rushes for 228 yards a game, what offense is
going to pass?


KEY
MATCH-UP


The key match-up that will be most talked about will be the
Cajuns' rushing defense against Jarvis. However, if the Cajuns can
pass like Hudson and Bustle want to do, it will be another test
for the Flashes' secondary. The play-action killed the
Flashes in 2007, and if they aren't careful, will a killer in
this game. However, if the Cajuns' defense struggles, then they
may be forced to pass more regardless of play-action.




This should be a big game for sophomore Brian Lainhart
and senior Rico Murray (if Murray is playing safety) at
safety, as their responsibilities including judging the play-action.


WHAT
THE FLASHES MUST DO TO WIN THE GAME

Besides not giving Desormeaux and Fenroy extra drives? The Flashes
must force the Cajuns to pass, by putting them in second or third
and long situations. Basically, they must stop the run on first
down. The Cajuns' passing game is based on short passes. If the
Cajuns gain four to five yards on first down, it will be a long
day. Most coaches will say that, for obvious reasons, third down
stops are key. But against a team that doesn't pass much, and
when they do, it's not very far, keeping it second and eight
or second and seven puts the team in a pickle. If the Flashes
give up six yards on first down, the Cajuns are probably favored
to pick-up another first down on the next play. Why? Because
Fenroy and Desormeaux averaged more then five yards a carry in
2007, and Desormeaux is a 55-percent passer who relies on short
completions. This team will likely NOT pass on first down. More
proof? The Cajuns attempted 311 passes. They had 542
rushing attempts. The game will be a quick, "which defense
will stop the run first" contest.


EXTRA
POINTS

The match-up is intriguing because it's between the Sun Belt and
the Mid-American Conference. By most "experts," the Sun
Belt is likely behind the MAC in prestige. Sun Belt teams are dealing
with a different animal being in the south, where football is king,
and playing for a Sun Belt team is less glorifying then playing
for a SEC team, or ACC team, or even a Conference USA team. At
least the MAC has a long tradition of producing NFL players and
great Big Ten coaches (well, at least Miami does). MAC players
may feel they deserved to play in the Big Ten or the Big East,
but playing for a MAC school is never a bad thing. One example
is Ben Roethlisberger. One team that had recruited him and apparently
offered a scholarship was Duke. Now, most fans know Duke is
a basketball school, and most people probably are clueless about
Duke football, but still it's the ACC. Well, Roethlisberger preferred Miami
instead, and that turned out well.




The point is that while many fans will see this as two teams from
mid-major conferences, this game is extremely important to the
Sun Belt. If the Sun Belt can gain the respect that the MAC has
earned, then maybe Georgia players such as Kent State sophomore
quarterback Georgio Morgan will stay in the south.






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