#19 Louisiana Ragin Cajuns (2-0, 1-0 SBC) vs Georgia Southern Eagles (1-0)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 26th, 11:00 AM CST
TV: ESPN 2 (Play-By-Play: Beth Mowins/Analyst: Kirk Morrison/Sidelines: Dawn Davenport)
Radio: ESPN 1420 (PxP: Jay Walker/ Color: Gerald Broussard/ Sidelines: Cody Junot), GS Sports Network (Pxp: Danny Reed/ Color: Terry Harvin/ Sidelines: Russ Brown)
Location: Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA
Betting Line: Louisiana -11.5 O/U 51
All-Time Series Record: Louisiana leads series 2-1
The Cajuns come home for the first time this year after escaping Georgia State last weekend in overtime 34-31. It’s the first time in school history that Louisiana has started a season 2-0 with both wins coming on the road. Now, Billy Napier brings his #19 football team back to the Swamp and hopes to get back on track after two straight average performances. Wednesday night, it was discovered that the Cajuns would be without 7 players, including 5 starters, for this contest on top of the 9 players they were already missing from the week before. Notable names include: RB Elijah Mitchell, OT Max Mitchell, DL Tayland Humphrey and Sonny Hazard, LB Joe Dillon and DB AJ Washington. Obviously huge gaps are now in the depth chart for Louisiana, but Billy Napier is known for his “Next Man Up” mentality and that’ll come into effect this Saturday. Look for Louisiana to utilize Levi Lewis in the passing game with receivers like Peter Leblanc and Kyren Lacy being his top targets as well as a heavy dose of Trey Ragas and Chris Smith in the backfield. Freshman Emani Bailey looks poised to step into that 3rd back role for the Cajuns this weekend while Mitchell is out.
Defensively, the Cajuns will have their hands full trying to stop a potent triple-option offense that the Eagles are known for. Weapons like Shai Werts, Wesley Kennedy III, and JD King will give the Cajuns’ front 7 everything they can handle. Approximately 8,000 Cajun fans are gonna witness a physical, smash-mouth style football game.
Hopefully last season’s meeting between these two teams showed the Eagles’ that they cannot just give a ho-hum performance against a team as talented as Louisiana and still hope to come away with a victory.
Even with several Cajun players out due to COVID related reasons, Georgia Southern’s opponent still has the firepower to put up points in bunches.
With several starters returning for Southern from the opener 2 weeks ago that saw 33 players out for various reasons, GS should have more offensive output than it did against Campbell, with Wesley Kennedy III slated to go.
The offense really clicks when Shai Werts is the focal point. In week one, Werts was asked to do a lot of things by offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse that are not in the quarterback’s wheelhouse, like throwing deep shots in the late first half and early second half to try and generate instant offense.
The short passing game did wonders in the first half for the Eagles’ signal-caller, keeping the Campbell defense honest. Once things looked dire on the scoreboard, DeBesse immediately went away from what the team does best which was a mistake until Werts was forced to play hero ball to get GS out of its early hole.
Defensively, it’s impossible to know what to expect. Having a large contingent of players returning helps, but there is a chance this team as a whole has taken a step back in its ability to defend the pass with the graduations of Monquavion Brinson and Kindle Vildor.
Georgia Southern also had trouble generating a consistent pass rush, which could mean for a long day for the Eagles defensive unit if that trend keeps up.
Brian: I think with several players out for the Cajuns, the score could remain closer than last year’s contest but I think there is still a ways to go from the talent and coaching perspective until Georgia Southern is on Louisiana’s level.
Louisiana 34, Georgia Southern 27
Matt: I think the defense for Louisiana is too talented and the offense has more weapons than the Eagles can defend.
Louisiana 34, Georgia Southern 24