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2018

Louisiana Lafayette

College Football

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Louisiana Lafayette football fell off the last couple years and failed to reach a bowl in 2017 with a 5-7 record. That led to the hiring of Billy Napier, a Nick Saban disciple and most recently, the Arizona State offensive coordinator. Because of the hiring, there’s been some hype surrounding the Ragin’ Cajuns, although their over/under is still at 4.5 wins with +4500 odds to win the Sun Belt (sixth-best) as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The biggest issue for Louisiana’s new spread offense is finding a quarterback. Sophomore Levi Lewis looked like a small favorite over senior Andre Nunez going into the fall, although that may not be decided until a few games into the season. At the least, almost all of the other offensive positions should be set from three returning juniors on the line to an abundance of talent at the skill positions. Trey Ragas should be set for another solid campaign after rushing for 813 yards and nine touchdowns on 5.7 yards per carry as a freshman. Receiver is in the same situation with Ryheem Malone (676 yards, 4 TDs), Keenan Barnes (539 yards) and Ja’Marcus Bradley all returning to the mix. This offense averaged 28 points per game last year and as long as the new quarterback doesn’t completely flop, 30 points should be on the table in the spread attack. 

The defense could be a bigger issue after allowing 40 points per game in 2017, although new coordinator Ron Roberts should help with a bevy of incoming transfers from Ole Miss, Nevada and the JUCO ranks. That could pay immediate dividends as only three starters return from last year’s group in end Joe Dillon (4.5 sacks), linebacker Jacques Boudreaux (58 tackles) and safety Corey Turner (68 tackles). Roberts, a former head coach at SE Louisiana, is implementing a new 3-4 defense, but with so many transfers, most of the group had to learn a new defense anyway. They won’t become elite overnight, but there are pieces to work with, at least in the front seven.

There is a reasonable path for Louisiana to hit five wins and that’s from every home game except for Arkansas State. Those five games are all favorable and if the offense figures things out from the start, that could be enough to get those wins. Reaching a bowl is another question, although games at Texas State and UL Monroe also present a couple road wins. The schedule looks harder than it actually is because of four difficult road games, but the other eight could be toss-ups. Of course, if the defense only improves by five points per game, that probably still won’t be enough after being carved open by numerous offenses last season.

 

2018 Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Grambling

Sept. 15 at Mississippi State

Sept. 22 vs. Coastal Carolina

Sept. 29 at Alabama

Oct. 6 at Texas State

Oct. 13 vs. New Mexico State

Oct. 20 at Appalachian State

Oct. 27 vs. Arkansas State

Nov. 3 at Troy

Nov. 10 vs. Georgia State

Nov. 17 vs. South Alabama 

Nov. 24 at UL Monroe

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