The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns defense will look different in the 2015 season under the helm of SEC veteran coach Melvin Smith.
Smith, hired in the off-season to coach defensive backs and coordinate the defense after spending the previous two seasons at Auburn, has a special connection with head coach Mark Hudspeth heading back to their days at Delta State. The experienced defensive coach has spent time at Auburn, Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M. His time at Mississippi State saw him again spend time on the sidelines with Hudspeth.
The goal for the Ragin' Cajuns defense under Smith is to play man coverage with an aggressive attacking front seven. There are significant questions whether that can be implemented this season with very little overall experience returning in the secondary. Cornerbacks were hit the worst by graduation with both starting spots open for competition. If the secondary can prove in fall drills that man coverage is possible, then many different pass rushing options emerge for Louisiana with several linebackers that can get to the passer when given the opportunity.
Louisiana had the nation's #72 overall defense with an average of 405.8 yards per game allowed in 2014. While the rushing defense was excellent with only 142.2 yards per game allowed, ranking them 35th overall and first in the Sun Belt, the passing defense struggled significantly allowing 263.6 yards per game, good for #105 nationally. Smith's defensive implementation should show improvement in the passing game this fall but the Ragin' Cajuns must strike more of a defensive balance with several run heavy teams in the Sun Belt Conference.
It is always good to see a coach that has paid his dues finally get the chance to run a FBS level defense after working so hard to get to that level. Time will tell how well he improves the Ragin' Cajun defense but it is great to see him get the chance to prove his worth.