Despite losing 20-17 to the Georgia State Panthers for Homecoming, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are still in a good spot. 4-3 is still a winning record, and next week the Cajuns will travel to the coast of Alabama to take on the South Alabama Jaguars.
As opposed to the seven days Louisiana had to rest and recuperate for the game, the Jaguars had 11. They played on Tuesday as opposed to Saturday, demolishing the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 55-3.
By and large this is the same South Alabama team that spoiled homecoming last year for the Cajuns. However, I believe that South Alabama will go through the motions to open the game against Louisiana, and the reason is simple.
The last two opponents for the Jaguars were the bottom-feeders of the Sun Belt in the ULM Warhawks and the aforementioned Golden Eagles. Both times the Jaguars scored 55 points on the respective teams’ putrid defense. However, Louisiana’s defense is anything but putrid.
The defense kept Louisiana in the game despite being down 20-0 late in the first half. Quarterback Zeon Chriss did not have the best day passing, but he put up over 110 yards rushing. While he does need to improve upon his passing, his rushing abilities cannot be denied or underestimated.
Chriss is now the starting quarterback moving forward, and homecoming solidified that. Despite the late interception, he led the Cajuns from their early deficit and carried them to a near-victory. The Cajuns have become tougher in these last few weeks, not giving up even when faced with adversity.
When the Cajuns travel to Mobile, Alabama, they will most certainly be underdogs. South Alabama is a good team. You may think that any team could score 55 points on such lowly teams as the Warhawks and Golden Eagles, but in Division I FBS football, scoring 55 points is impressive no matter what. For example, the school across the Atchafalaya Basin scored 62 points in a win against the Army Black Knights.
But with that being said, Louisiana has the roadmap to victory laid out before them. If they can set up Zeon Chriss’s running abilities early, it will keep the Jaguars honest when the situation calls for passing.
Also, the Cajuns need to cut down on the penalties that they commit. On their last drive, the Cajuns had a holding penalty combined with a false start to start their series of downs with a first-and-25. Chriss’s abilities allowed the Cajuns to pick up the first down regardless of the distance.
The Jaguars will feast on those mistakes and capitalize on them for points if Louisiana is not careful. Louisiana’s defensive line, after racking up sack after sack in the early parts of the season, has cooled off as offensive lines learn how to block against the schemes the Cajuns run. Ramping up the pressure may be what the doctor ordered if Louisiana wants to win the game.
Finally, for Louisiana to defeat South Alabama, they will need to win the momentum battle. For homecoming, most of the student section left late in the first half, never to return to their seats. Obviously this can’t be replicated because the game will be played at Hancock Whitney Stadium and not Cajun Field. So instead, Louisiana must make South Alabama fans leave the game early.
As of writing this article, it is unknown what channel the Cajuns will be on. However, if they are not on main TV, they will be live on ESPN+ for the 4 p.m. CST kickoff. If you’ve ever wanted to travel to a Cajuns away game, this is your best chance to do so, as Mobile is the closest away game Louisiana will have for the remainder of the season.