NCAA Football

2011 College Football Season Preview: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

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2010 Record: (3-9, 3-5 in Sun Belt)

Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth (66-21 at North Alabama)

2010 Pre-Season Preview

Schedule

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9/3: at Oklahoma State (2010 result: lost 54-28)

9/10: at Kent State

9/17: Nicholls State

9/24: at FIU (2010 result: lost 38-17)

10/1: FAU (2010 result: lost 24-23)

10/8: Troy (2010 result: lost 31-24)

10/15: North Texas (2010 result: won 28-27)

10/22: at Western Kentucky (2010 result: lost 54-21)

10/29: at MTSU (2010 result: lost 34-14)

11/5: Louisiana-Monroe (2010 result: won 23-22)

11/12: at Arkansas State (2010 result: won 31-24)

11/26: at Arizona

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 22.3 ppg (7th in Sun Belt, 92nd in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 102.08 yds/game (8th in Sun Belt, 110th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 250.0 yds/game (3rd in Sun Belt, 37th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 352.1 yds/game (6th in Sun Belt, 81st in Nation) 

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 37.0 ppg (last in Sun Belt, 112th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 162.67 yds/game (2nd in Sun Belt, 71st in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 236.8 yds/game (8th in Sun Belt, 90th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 399.5 yds/game (6th in Sun Belt, 82nd in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.25 per game (5th in Sun Belt, 73rd in Nation)

Penalties: 42.4 yds/game (1st in Sun Belt, 25th in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 5

Defense: 5

Kicker/Punter: 1

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Chris Masson, Sr (148 of 281 for 1842 yds, 11 TD, 6 INT)

Rushing: RB Aaron Spikes, Soph (103 for 339 yds, 2 TD)

Receiving: TE Ladarius Green, Sr (44 rec for 794 yds, 7 TD)

Tackles: LB Devon Lewis-Buchanan, Sr (63)

Sacks: DE Emeka Onyenekwu, Jr (4.5)

Interceptions: FS Lionel Stokes, Sr (3)

Coming off of a 6-6 season in 2009, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns were hoping to exceed that win total in 2010. After starting out 2-2 they lost seven straight games before closing the season at Louisiana-Monroe with a one point victory. That was enough to get Head Coach Ricky Bustle booted after nine years in Lafayette. The new head man is former UNA Coach Mark Hudspeth. Hudspeth had a lot of success at UNA before moving to Mississippi State to coach under Dan Mullen. Can he bring his winning ways to the Ragin' Cajuns? We sought out BJ Thompson, the publisher of Scout.com's Cajun Red Zone, to get his take on the 2011 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.

The Cajuns went 3-9 last year including losing 7 straight towards the end of the season. What were the major reasons for the downturn last year?

First, large number of injuries on the offensive line and defensive lines. 2nd the lack of quality depth on the offensive and defensive lines due to several poor recruiting classes. The Cajuns lost three defensive linemen and a starting safety against Oklahoma St. By the end of the season game against ULM, they had 17 athletes injured or out of the 2 deep on the defensive side of the ball. The offensive line was depleted by injuries as well, and lacked depth due to several poor recruiting classes.

Ricky Bustle is out as coach and Mark Hudspeth is in. What does Hudspeth bring to the table that makes you excited for this season?

Mark Hudspeth has been a successful head at coach at Delta State and North Alabama, before working with Coach Mullen at Mississippi State. He has the track record of winning as a head coach at each stop. He is also brought along two outstanding recruiters from the SEC in David Saunders and Reed Stringer, both with established credentials. He is also willing to recruit junior colleges and takes chances on a few athletes with academic risk. 

For those that don't follow the Sun Belt that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

The Cajuns have a solid core of athletes led by All-American Candidate TE LaDarius Green, 6-6, 230 4.5 forty TE, will be WR at the next level, 6-5, 300 OT Lenardo Bates, DE/OLB Bernard Smith 6-2, 240 originally signed with West Virginia, DT Cordian Hagans 6-4, 290 LSU transfer, CB Dwight Bentley 5-11, 175 All-Conference and WR James Butler 6-3, 205 SBC All-Freshmen.

Who are some newcomers that can come in and immediately help this year?

RB- Qyendarius Griffin 5-11, 225 -Named Mississippi's Mr. Football during senior season after rushing for 2,670 yards and 37 rushing scores. Earned All-America honors from Rivals.com (first team), (first team) Scout Inc (ESPN) and MaxPreps (second team).

RB- Alonzo Harris 6-1, 215-  Rated as the No. 2 national fullback prospect and a three-star recruit by Scout.com…Rated as a Top 40 prospect in the State of Alabama by Rivals.com…Rushed for 1,755 yards in 12 games.

OL- Jaylen Hunter 6-3, 280- Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com. Held offers from Buffalo, East Carolina

OL- Fred Moore 6-5, 300- A Preseason Mississippi Top 45 college football prospect

DB- Dexter Aucoin 5-9, 180- Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals, committed to Tulsa originally.

DB- Jemarlous Moten 5-11, 175 –JC Mississippi JC All-Star

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games for Louisiana this year?

Kent State, North Texas, FAU, ULM, Troy

The Cajuns have two winnable out of conference games at home against 1AA Nichols State and Kent State on the road, they need to win both to have a chance at a winning season. North Texas, FAU and ULM are all winnable games at home, Troy is at home… Cajuns had a shot at beating them in Troy last season but fumbled the ball at the Trojans 2 yard line with less then four minutes in the game.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and whatmakes the season successful in your eyes?

Gut feeling is 6-6, bowl eligible, because the previous staff went 6-6 in 2009 with many of the same athletes on the two deep and the out of conference schedule is much better with Nichols State and Kent State. The Cajuns have three winnable games at home against FAU, ULM and North Texas…. ASU is also a winnable game on the road. That would be a successful season considering the lack of proven depth on the O-line, secondary and D-line.

Next Preview: San Jose State

2011 Team Previews

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston , SMU, Southern Mississippi

MAC- Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo , Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo

MWC- New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming

Sun Belt- FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy , ULM

WAC- Idaho