#70 Louisiana Football 2015 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Overall Rank: #70
#1 Sun Belt

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Under Coach Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana fans have come to expect a 9-4 season and a trip to the New Orleans Bowl. That is how the season has ended for all four years under Coach Hudspeth. Last year that included a 7-1 mark in Sun Belt play and a bowl win over Nevada. Going for year five of a 9-4 mark will prove difficult for a team looking to break in a new quarterback.

2014 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2014 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. Nevada (W 16-3)
Coach: Mark Hudspeth (36-16 at Louisiana, 102-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jay Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: Melvin Smith

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Elijah McGuire, RB, 1,264 yards
Passing: Brooks Haack, QB, 179 yards
Receiving: Elijah McGuire, RB, 468 yards
Tackles: Dominique Tovell, LB, 76
Sacks: Darzil Washington, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Tracy Walker, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Al Riles, RB Montrel Carter, WR Jamal Robinson, OL Mykhael Quave, OL Grant Horst

Key Losses: QB Terrance Broadway, RB Alonzo Harris, WR James Butler, CB Corey Trim, K Hunter Stover, P Daniel Cadona, DL Christian Ringo, DL Justin Hamilton, Trevence Patt, OL Daniel Quave, OL Terry Johnson

Even without a quarterback, Louisiana can move the ball on the ground with Elijah McGuire. He had another great year as a sophomore, rushing for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns. Alonzo Harris, who rushed for 807 yards and a dozen touchdowns, is gone, but all that should mean is more touches for McGuire. The offensive line will have a few new faces, but the unit should be pretty good with the return of Mykhael Quave and Grant Horst. On the other side of the ball, Louisiana ranked first in the league in rush defense in 2014. That will be a difficult feat to replicate without Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton eating up space on the line, but there are high hopes for Miami transfer Jacoby Briscoe to step into a starring role. The talent at linebacker will certainly help mask any shortcomings on the line. Dominique Tovell recorded 76 tackles a year ago and Darzil Washington is a solid pass rusher from the outside. Add Tre’maine Lightfoot and Otha Peters to the mix and there are plenty of quality options for the new defensive staff at linebacker.

As long as the ball is on the ground, everything will be fine in Lafayette. The opposition will certainly test this team through the air though. The pass defense did well when it mattered most in the red zone, but they gave up a lot of yards. Safeties Tracy Walker, T.J. Worthy and Travis Crawford have some experience at least. Cornerback Simeon Thomas sat out last year and barely played as a freshman in 2013, but he is a great talent and will be asked to make a big impact this season. However, most eyes are on the quarterback battle to replace Terrance Broadway. The battle rages between Jordan Davis, Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon. Options are nice, but sooner or later Coach Hudspeth needs to settle on a quarterback.

The Bottom Line:
Whoever does end up at quarterback will have some nice receiving options. Despite the lack of a consistent receiver a season ago, there is a lot of talent on the roster. McGuire is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, but Jamal Robinson is the big time playmaker out wide. He basically played in three games last year, catching 15 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013 he caught 54 passes for 862 yards and eight scores. Al Riles and Gabe Fuselier should get quite a few passes thrown their way in the slot as well. This should be an efficient and effective offense once again as long as there is some consistency at quarterback. If there is, going 9-4 should be expected.

Projected Bowl: New Orleans Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 225.9 (22nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 191.5 (98, 9)
Total Offense: 417.4 (54, 5)
Scoring Offense: 29.5 (58, 3)
Rushing Defense: 142.2 (35, 1)
Pass Defense: 263.6 (105, 9)
Total Defense: 405.8 (72, 3)
Scoring Defense: 26.0 (56, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (48, 4)
Sacks: 2.46 (39, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (42, 2)


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