With the 2022 Ragin’ Cajun Fall Camp well underway and the regular season on the horizon, now is the time to get hyped for this year’s talented roster. Before the home opener on Sept. 3 gets any closer, let’s take a look at the biggest difference-makers the Cajuns will field.
Chandler Fields and Ben Woolridge
I’m cheating a bit for this one and listing both potential quarterbacks. It’s the most important role on the team, and it’s a huge role to fill following the graduation of the Cajuns’ all-time touchdown leader Levi Lewis. As reported by The Daily Advertiser, the battle for the starting role is still not decided, but it seems to have come down to two options: Fresno State transfer Ben Woolridge and Metairie native Chandler Fields. “The pair have battled since spring practice, neither giving up as much [as] an inch,” the Advertiser said. We’ve seen more on-field action from Fields, and he showed promise in spots last season, particularly the final drive of the blowout win at Homecoming last season.
As Head Coach Michael Desormeaux puts it, “Ben does things exactly by the book, Chandler has a little bit more creativity in him. At the same time, Chandler takes a few more chances and does some things that Ben doesn’t do.”
“For us it’s the consistency,” he continues. “If it’s Chandler, is he taking those chances in positions where we can afford them? Is he being smart with those opportunities? With Ben, he’s got to operate consistently because he’s doing it; if it’s cloudy, is he more hesitant? Is he playing with a lot of accuracy?”
Either way, both players have the talent to develop into consistent starters. We should know who has the position, according to Desormeaux, by Aug. 22.
Last year’s rushing attack featured the then-sophomore Chris Smith and freshman Montrel Johnson in a 1,600+ yard tandem, along with valuable contributions from fellow freshman Emani Bailey. Now that Johnson has followed former Cajuns’ coach Billy Napier in his departure to the University of Florida and Bailey has transferred to Texas Christian University, the burden will be on Smith to lift up the backups from last year and the competing backs in camp to keep the run game strong.
And for defense:
Jourdan Quibodeaux and Kailep Edwards
A room full of linebackers are going to be making a step up, as the team’s sack leader of last season Chauncey Manac graduates, and last season’s tackle leader Lorenzo McCaskill transfers to Kansas. Most notable of these is redshirt senior Jourdan Quibodeaux, who got significant playing time last season and will look to capitalize on his excellent tackling ability. As reported by Ragin’ Cajun Athletics, Quibodeaux tied with freshman Kailep Edwards for most tackles in Saturday’s team scrimmage. Edwards is an award-winning defender at the district and state level, and will almost certainly make a difference for the Cajun defense.
Eric Garror and Kam Pedescleaux
For these final two who decided to stay as seniors when so many have left, a successful season will mean the world for both them and all Cajuns fans. Entering his senior year, leading the team last season in interceptions, corner Eric Garror will have a chance to take his amazing style of play to even greater territory after the departure of junior Mekhi Garner for LSU. Look for his statistics to take another step up as he matches up with the best receivers in the conference. Playing behind Garror will be senior safety Kam Pedescleaux, an excellent run stopper and shutdown coverage man.
As you can see, at most critical playmaking positions, growth and development will be key for the roster’s future, but with what they have, the Cajuns can bank on another top-flight season.