The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns essentially lost any hope of a Sun Belt title in 2015 in a 37-27 loss to rival Arkansas State last night. No doubt about it, that game was terrible. Was it as bad as it looked, or did Louisiana do a few things that could be helpful moving forward?
Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly from the loss to Arkansas State.
- Punting: You know it was a bad night when the punter deserves one of the top spots in the good column. Freshman Steven Coutts was excellent with a 51.2 yards per punt, including a 64 yard punt. His ability to get his rugby style punts to roll kept Louisiana from having to defend a short field all night long.
- Elijah McGuire, The Receiver: Arkansas State made no secret that they would put all of their focus on stopping McGuire on the ground. McGuire, in proving that he is a special talent, got involved in the passing game with 10 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. If you stop him running the ball, he finds a way to help the offense in the passing game.
- Jalen Nixon, The Rusher: With the Red Wolves focusing on McGuire completely, Nixon was left to run free. Nixon took advantage of that with 201 yards rushing on 19 carries, a 10.6 yards per carry average. That rushing total was by far Nixon’s career high and the best by a ball carrier for the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2015.
- Never Give Up: Despite losing 34-7 and playing terribly, the Ragin’ Cajuns never gave up and had a chance to cut the Arkansas State lead to eight points with 11:02 left in the game. A few things go differently, and they could have been driving in the fourth quarter with a chance to send the game to overtime.
- Rush Defense: I thought that the Ragin’ Cajuns defense had figured out how to stop the run game with back to back good performances. I was completely wrong as Arkansas State gouged them for 306 yards on 52 carries. That performance versus the run was the worst of the season for the defense.
- Jalen Nixon, The Passer: He ended the night with 253 yards in the air, a career high for the junior. With that being said, Nixon was terrible passing the football versus Arkansas State. Until the passing offense got McGuire involved, things were terrible for Nixon. The biggest worry moving forward is that players were open on many of his incompletions, but his passes were way off target all night long. Any sort of pressure from the defense saw Nixon struggle significantly.
- Losing The Line Of Scrimmage: From the very first drive, it was evident that Arkansas State was much better in the trenches. The Louisiana front line was pushed around all night, allowing holes big enough to drive a truck through.
- Nixon started the game 2-17 for eight yards and a pick-six. By the time he started completing his passes in the last drive of the first half, the score was already 34-7 in favor of Arkansas State. He played much better in the second half with two touchdowns, but the hole was already too deep.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns get a Halloween night homecoming versus in-state foe Louisiana Monroe. Kickoff is at 4:00 PM at Cajun Field.