#73 Louisiana Football 2012 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

2012 Overall Rank: #73
#3 Sun Belt
Louisiana College Football 2012 Team Preview
Louisiana Team Page


The expectations were extremely low for first year coach Mark Hudspeth and his Louisiana squad during the 2011 campaign. With a young offense and a defense that had struggled, just about everybody figured the Ragin’ Cajuns were in major rebuilding mode. And they should have been, but Coach Hudspeth rallied his troops to an impressive 9-4 overall mark and a 6-2 conference record. That was enough for Louisiana to reach their first ever bowl game. But the good times did not end with just a bowl berth for the underdog Ragin’ Cajuns; they beat San Diego State 32-30 in the New Orleans Bowl.

2011 Record: (9-4, 6-2)
2011 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. San Diego State (W 32-30)
Coach: Mark Hudspeth (9-4 at Louisiana, 9-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jay Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Stewart

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Alonzo Harris, RB, 700 yards
Passing: Blaine Gautier, QB, 2,958 yards
Receiving: Javone Lawson, WR, 1,092 yards
Tackles: Jemarlous Moten, CB, 80
Sacks: Justin Hamilton, DT, 2; Trae Johnson, LB, 2
Interceptions: Jemarlous Moten, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OT Leonardo Bates, C Andre Huval, LB Jake Molbert, OT Jaron Odom, WR Harry Peoples, G Daniel Quave, WR Darryl Surgent, CB Melvin White

Key Losses: CB Dwight Bentley, DT Derrick Dean, DT Tyrell Gaddies, TE Ladarius Green, LB Lance Kelley, LB Devon Lewis-Buchanan, G Kyle Plouhar, DE Bernard Smith, S Lionel Stokes

It was the strong play of the inexperienced offense that catapulted Louisiana to a bowl victory. Quarterback Blaine Gautier, now a senior, did a great job running the offense. He threw for 2,958 yards and 23 touchdowns, which is impressive in itself, but he also was extremely efficient and completed nearly 63 percent of his passes and threw just six interceptions. For a player who only saw part-time duty the season before and was not the clear cut starter to begin the 2011 campaign, that is one heck of a season. Gautier, who also rushed for 486 yards, should be even better this time around. He will have most of his receiving targets back as well, led by Javone Lawson, Harry Peoples and Darryl Surgent. The obvious absence will be that of tight end Ladarius Green. Green was a big target in the end zone and a nice safety outlet for Gautier. Ian Thompson has some big shoes to fill at the tight end position. The offensive line should keep things moving smoothly with the return of four starters, most notably tackles Leonardo Bates and Jaron Odom. With those seniors paving the way, the ground game should be effective. Alonzo Harris emerged as the workhorse during his freshman campaign and could be in for a big sophomore season if the Ragin’ Cajuns keep the ball on the ground a little more.

The defense struggled last year, allowing nearly 400 yards of offense per game and it could be even worse this time around. The bad news is Lance Kelley, Devon Lewis-Buchanan, Lionel Stokes and Dwight Bentley are all gone. Those were four of Louisiana’s top five tacklers last season. Rebuilding will need to be done across the board. Up front they do have a couple former SEC players, defensive tackle Cordian Hagans and nose tackle Jalen Fields, but the Ragin’ Cajuns will need to find a pass rusher to replace Bernard Smith. Sophomore Jake Molbert and senior Le’Marcus Gibson will be asked to step up their game and lead the relatively inexperienced group of linebackers. Some incoming talent should help with depth, but replacing the production of Kelley and Lewis-Buchanan will not be easy.

The Bottom Line:
The strong spot for the defense should be in the secondary. Cornerbacks Melvin White and Jemarlous Moten are experienced seniors who have the ability to shut down most opposing receivers. Coach Hudspeth will need to find a couple new safeties, but the addition of Mississippi transfer Darius Barksdale should help smooth the transition. As long as this team can get some consistent pressure on the quarterback, the defense should be better. The offense should be better as well with another year of experience under their belt. That will leave Louisiana looking for another trip to a bowl game and maybe even another bowl victory.

Projected Bowl: TicketCity Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 125.15 (88th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 269.46 (29, 3)
Total Offense: 394.62 (51, 3)
Scoring Offense: 32.31 (32, 2)
Rushing Defense: 138.62 (46, 5)
Pass Defense: 261.31 (100, 7)
Total Defense: 399.92 (75, 6)
Scoring Defense: 29.85 (84, 5)
Turnover Margin: .00 (59, 5)
Sacks: 2.15 (44, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (59, 6)