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South Alabama at Louisiana: Previewing Saturday's Showdown

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The Cajuns welcome the Jaguars into town for Homecoming and a pivotal Sun Belt game.

Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: South Alabama Jaguars 5-2 (4-1) at Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 4-3 (3-0)

WHEN: Saturday, November 1st 4:00

WHERE: Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA

WEATHER: 67°/44° 0% rain

LINE: Louisiana -6.5 (opened UL -4.5)

For the first time in 28 days, the Ragin' Cajuns will play on a weekend. Saturday, Louisiana will welcome South Alabama to town for a 4 pm kick off at Cajun Field. The Jaguars themselves haven't played a weekend game in 14 days, as they played last Friday, beating Troy 27-13.  South Alabama is undefeated, on the road this season, but this will be their hardest road test to date. Louisiana is an unbelievable 17-3 at Cajun Field under Coach Mark Hudspeth, but the Cajuns were beaten earlier this season by Louisiana Tech in Lafayette. South Alabama beat writer Brian Wright and Louisiana beat writer Cody Junot will discuss what each team needs to do if they want to leave Cajun Field victorious.

SOUTH ALABAMA PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Brandon Bridge, SR Quarterback: The Ontario, Canada native is only completing 51.4% of his passes, but the offense starts with him. He has a strong arm and quick feet. Sometimes his arm can be too strong though and receivers have had problems completing catches. He is also one of the team's top rushers with 282 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Shavarez Smith, SR Wide Receiver: The senior is Bridge's go-to receiver with nearly double the receptions and over double the yards, of the next closest receiver. He is a big target in the red zone as he has five of the team's eight touchdown receptions.
  • Terrell Brigham, SR Safety: Brigham leads an experienced secondary for the Jaguars. He leads the team with 54 stops, and pass breakups with 7.
  • Theo Rich, SR Defensive End: Rich has turned up his play lately with 4.5 sacks and 6 tackles for loss in the last two games.

LOUISIANA PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Terrance Broadway, SR Quarterback: Over the last three ball games, all Cajun wins, the senior is 43/64 for 543 yards and three touchdowns to only one interception. The previous three games, all losses, saw Broadway only complete 54 of 99 attempts and throw five interceptions to only one touchdown. Terrance must continue to take care of the football and use his feet to make plays, doing so will see the Cajuns continue their winning ways.
  • Alonzo Harris, SR & Elijah McGuire, SO Running Back: The dynamic duo in the Cajun backfield has carried Louisiana to victory over the past three weeks. Louisiana will continue to rely on both backs as the season goes on. Last week they each scored four touchdowns each, with Harris doing most of his damage from close range while McGuire hit several big runs on his way to rushing for 265 yards.
  • Corey Trim, SR Cornerback: The Baton Rouge native leads Louisiana in tackles with 38 and has a team high 2 interceptions. Trim has also forced one fumble.
  • Travis Crawford, FR Safety: Crawford has been inserted into the starting lineup this week replacing Sean Thomas. The New Orleans native will be making his first career start, in only three games this year, Crawford has seven tackles and one pass break up.

TO BEAT THE RAGIN' CAJUNS, SOUTH ALABAMA MUST:

  • STUFF THE RUN: The last three weeks have seen the Cajuns ground game get rolling. Louisiana is rushing for an insane 6.178 yards per carry in that span. For South Alabama to leave Cajun Field with a victory, the Jaguars must find a way to stop the Cajun rushing attack. Linebackers Maleki Harris, Desmond LaVelle and Davin Hawkins will need to limit the Cajun backs to minimal gains and take them down on first contact. If South Alabama is able to slow down the running game, Terrance Broadway will be forced to beat the Jaguars with his arm. Advantage Jaguars.
  • HIT THE BIG PLAY: While the Ragin' Cajun defense has improved over the last several weeks, one thing continues to haunt Louisiana. The BIG play. The Cajuns have surrendered nine scores on plays of over 20 yards. Six of those scores have been on plays of 50 yards or greater. The Jaguars must cash in on a big chunk play, when the opportunity presents itself.
  • AIR RAID: The weakest part of the Cajun defense this season has been the secondary. South Alabama will need to attack the Cajun corners and safeties to win this game. Quarterback Brandon Bridge along with wide receivers Shavarez Smith, Jereme Jones and tight end Wes Saxton should be able to exploit the Louisiana.

TO BEAT THE JAGUARS, LOUISIANA MUST:

  • RUN, RUN and RUN: For the Cajuns, the formula over the last three weeks has been simple. Run the ball, run the ball, and then run the ball some more. Success in the running game will then lead to big play action pass attempts down the field. The Jaguars will come out looking to stuff the run, it's important that the Cajuns stay patient and committed to the run. They possess one of the better offensive lines in the Sun Belt, trust in your big boys.
  • CONTROL THE CLOCK: The Cajuns best defense continues to be their offense. Louisiana's rushing attack has allowed the Cajuns to put long drives together (unless Elijah McGuire decides to do this), more often than not resulting in points. Clock chewing drives along with points make life much easier for Mark Hudspeth and Defensive Coordinator James Willis.
  • BEND BUT DON'T BREAK: Last week Louisiana gave up 595 yards to Arkansas State but the Cajun defense held the Red Wolves to only 4-17 on third down. 70 of those yards came on a crazy play and another 87came on a single pass. The Cajuns are bound to give up some big plays, it's important that when they do, they find a way to hold the Jaguars to field goals and not touchdowns.

PREDCITIONS

Brian: In my opinion this game will come down to who wants it more. The Cajuns will be looking to avenge last season's 30-8 loss in Mobile, while both teams will need a win to keep pace with Georgia Southern. A win for the Jaguars will make them the first bowl-eligible team in the conference. I like South Alabama to pull out a tight, low scoring game. 23-21 Jaguars.

Cody: It seems that the Cajuns have finally discovered who they are, and have RUN with that identity. The last two weeks have seen the Cajuns have success using a run first offense, they've quit turning the ball over and have caused their opponents to make a few turnovers. The defense hasn't been great, but it has found a way to get a stop when the Cajuns have had to have one. I expect another close game but with a few more points than Brian. I like the Cajuns to grind out a 45-38 victory.