Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, TX
Kickoff: Saturday October 6th @ 6pm CST
Series Record: Louisiana leads series, 5-0.
Last Meeting: Louisiana won 24-7 in 2017
Betting Line: ULL -3 1/2 , O/U: 59 1⁄2
The Ragin’ Cajuns have had a character defining deficiency so far in 2018. Louisiana faced off against FCS Grambling State blowing them out 49-17, lost a close Sun Belt showdown with a vastly improved Coastal Carolina by two and then got dumped on by defending co-national champion* Alabama and their fellow SEC associate Mississippi State by a combined 112-24.
First year Head Coach Billy Napier has the tools to succeed and this upcoming Sun Belt schedule will indeed be a test for his veteran squad and a chance to make a statement and gain an identity.
Coach Napier has stated recently that he plans to play both of his quarterbacks, Andre Nunez and Levi Lewis. The senior Nunez has thrown for 616 yards on an impressive 70 percent completion rating and the gun slinging sophomore Lewis has played a couple of drives each game including tossing two scores against Grambling. Napier explained that depending on the performance made by each signal caller throughout the week will determine how much each QB will be plugged into every game this year.
The skill players have been sharing the offensive load as well. Sophomore Trey Ragas is currently sitting at 37th in the nation in rushing with 405 yards for 7.9 yards per carry which in itself is 10th in the nation. Fellow running backs Elijah Mitchell and Raymond Calais have combined for 353 yards in tow rounding out a ULL rushing attack averaging 5.9 yards a carry.
Receiving wise, Ryheem Malone leads the team in receptions with 17, Keenan Barnes fronts the team in receiving yardage with 166 and Ja’Marcus Bradley paces the Louisiana with four touchdowns hauled in.
In four games the Louisiana defense has given up over 2,000 yards of total offense and 21 touchdowns. Yes granted they played Mississippi State who dropped over 600 yards of offense and the NFL’s minor league team Alabama whose offense obliterated Louisiana for 7 offensive touchdowns and 340 yards in the air alone. But Coastal ran through the defense for 311 yards on the ground and even Grambling manage to score a couple of times when the game was still early.
They have good defenders like linebacker Jacques Boudreaux and defensive lineman Bennie Higgins and in the end the Ragin’ Cajuns have to find a way to make those critical stops.
Texas State Outlook
It’s been a rough 1-3 start. If it weren’t for a 16-point blown lead and the most ill-timed quarterback draw play ever Texas State could be possibly sitting at a comfy 3-1 record. Criticism of play calling, a lack of accountability on behalf of the head coach and the Bobcat faithful’s unwavering damnation of the AD have been all drawn out because of this, well at least just in terms of the first two stated items. So Texas State fanatics, whether you are an optimist or a masochist there are eight games left to right the ship and a real possibility to start a trend towards a winning season and it starts with the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Against UTSA starting quarterback Willie Jones III went out in the first quarter with a shoulder injury forcing freshman signal caller Tyler Vitt into action. With Jones III being the leading rusher for Texas State his speed and agility were sorely missed as the Bobcats only mustered 26 rushing yards on 25 carries against the Roadrunners. Both were by far season lows.
With the bye week WJIII had a chance to heal that shoulder but at the recent presser Head Coach Everett Withers stated that all three quarterbacks will be available and no starter has been named. Vitt has an arm but his inexperience showed against UTSA as he held on to the ball way too long at times. Vitt needs a little more experience to show his true potential but my money is going to go on Jones III to start. The offense suits his skill set and without his running ability to issue a admonishment to opposing defenses the offensive attack loses a dimension.
Tight end Keenan Brown has certainly made an impact for Texas State. Against UTSA Brown tallied 9 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. His performance catapulted him to be ranked by PFF as the best tight end in the country. The man is big, has hands and can run over opposing defenders. Throw him the ball whenever it becomes the option to because he can get rolling.
The defense actually held their own against UTSA and have actually shown to be getting better. UTSA was held to 127 yards in the air which was a season best for the Bobcats and allowed just 3.5 yards a carry. Bryan London II of course is the constant at linebacker. The junior tallied 9 tackles two weeks ago including a couple of spears reminiscent of Edge circa 2005. He’s got a calm demeanor when it comes to the pressers but if you have the ball and he’s on the field with you, run.
Linebacking corp is tight with Frankie Griffin and Hal Vinson along the middle with London and the secondary has given up a lot of plays but has still shown some flashes of success. My only qualm is toward the defensive line. There has been virtually no pressure given to opposing quarterbacks this year with only one of the Bobcats’ three sacks coming from a lineman. The opposing signal callers have been given too much (clap, clap) time on their hands to operate and a majority of the long passes given up by State could have been defused with a little pressure.
Texas State’s offense has been inconsistent and Louisiana’s defense hasn’t had a good opportunity to show any identity or consistency themselves. This game will be headlined by the productive Ragin’ Cajun offense versus the stout Texas State defense. I give the home team the edge and a 31-28 Bobcat victory.