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2010 NCAA Football Preview: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

2009 Record: 6-6 (4-4 in Sun Belt)
2009 Bowl: None
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Ricky Bustle (38-56 at Louisiana, 28-31 in Sun Belt)
Non-Conference Schedule: Georgia (9/4), Oklahoma St (10/8), at Ohio (10/30), at Ole Miss (11/6) 

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 22.2 points per game (8th in Sun Belt, 93rd in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 136 (7th in Sun Belt)
Passing Yards/Game: 224 (4th in Sun Belt)
Total Yards/Game: 361 (6th in Sun Belt) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 30.3 points per game (5th in Sun Belt, 97th in the Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 181 (5th in Sun Belt)
Passing Yards/Game: 222 (4th in Sun Belt)
Total Yards/Game: 404 (4th in Sun Belt)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.25 per game (2nd in Sun Belt)
Penalties: 49 yards per game (1st in Sun Belt)

Returning Starters
Offense: 5
Defense: 9
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Chris Masson, Jr (222 of 373 for 2406 yds, 10 TD, 8 INT)
Rushing: RB Yobes Walker, Soph (116 carries for 412 yds, 2 TD)
Receiving: WR Marlin Miller, Sr (36 rec, 315 yds, 2 TD, 3.0 rec/game)
Tackles:LB Grant Fleming, Sr (87)
Sacks: DE Tyrell Gaddies, Jr (1.5); LB Daylon McCoy, Sr (1.5)
Interceptions: 3 tied with 3

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #113
Pre-Snap Read: #102

2010 Pre-Season Sun Belt Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #6
Phil Steele: #6 (tie with FIU)
Sports Illustrated: #3 (tie with Arkansas St and Florida Atlantic)

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, or Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns as they prefer to be known, went 6-6 last year including a good win over Kansas State in week 2 of the season. UL once again schedules some tough out of conference opponents this year (last year they played LSU and Wisconsin) as they face off against Georgia in week one, Okie State in week five and Ole Miss in November. In order to find out more information about UL we talked with BJ Thompson, the publisher of's Cajun Red Zone.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the Ragin' Cajuns?

Strengths- (Offense) - Cajuns return QB Chris Masson after throwing for 2,500 yards in his first year as a starter. Solid core of receivers in TE/WR Ladarius Green, WR Javon Lawson, WR  Rico Joseph,  WR Richie Falgout, WR Marlin Miller and WR Pierre Hill.

Strengths - (Defense) – Cajuns return all four starters in the secondary- (CB’s Orkeys Auriene, Dwight Bentley- Safeties Maurice Rolle, and Lance Kelley) Solid LB core return in (MLB Grant Fleming, SLB Daylon McCoy and WLB Devin-Lewis Buchanan).

Weakness- (Offense) – Cajuns return only two starters on the offensive line and the running game must find some consistency after struggling with injuries last season.

Weakness- (Defense) – Defensive line struggled to put pressure on opposing QB’s and stopping the running game up the middle of the defense.

Louisiana starts off with a bang in their first game against the Georgia Bulldogs. What do you hope to learn from that game and what would you view as a successful outing against the dawgs?

The Cajuns will be facing a very physical SEC team in UGA; the play of the Cajun’s offensive and defensive lines in the game will be interesting to watch. Both groups will face very physical units from the bulldogs. Can the Cajuns play physical enough to keep the game within reach as they did against LSU and K-State last season? If they do, this will give both units confidence going into their conference schedule the following two weeks.

What team on the schedule do you want to beat the most?

That’s simple, the two teams picked at the top of the SBC, Middle Tennessee and Troy. If the Cajuns beat one of those two teams, they will be in the hunt for a bowl game.

Who do you consider your top rivals?

Well conference has tried to push an in-state rivalry between Louisiana and ULM, but the games have been poorly attended, especially in Monroe. The Cajuns share some history with North Texas and Arkansas State in the Big West Conference, so they would be at the top of the list along with ULM.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

MLB Grant Fleming has been one of the most consistent defensive playmakers in the SBC when he has not been injured. Fleming placed second on team in total tackles and eighth overall in the conference 2009 while making 68 tackles over the final eight games (8.5 tackles-per-game). Fleming accomplished this while recovering from an ACL surgery in 2008. Fleming was not nominated for SBC preseason all conference teams.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

TE- Ladarius Green- the “6-6”, 230-pound Green is a mismatch for any secondary attempting to cover him man-to-man. The Cajuns use Green as a TE in many of their formations to create match-up problems for defenses, but he will play WR in the NFL. I spoke to two NFL scouts last year, both compared Green to the NO-Saints Marquis Colston. Green, who possesses 4.47 speed, could not be covered by LSU’s Chad Jones or Nebraska’s safeties.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Senior LB Daylon McCoy Started the first nine games of the season at linebacker before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury...Placed fifth on the team in tackles despite missing three games...Was third on the team in tackles-for-loss...Had at least five tackles in six of the first eight games of the season...Established a new career-high with 13 tackles at FIU, also added a sack and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown...Led the team with three quarterback hurries.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach its full capability?

Offense- Cajuns need the three incoming recruits at running back (Walker, Streeter and Spikes) to produce this season.

Defense- The Cajuns need an immediate impact from the JC DL recruits, (Bernard Smith, Benay Pryer and Chris Tucker).

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Fr. RB- Robert Walker- rushed for 2,041 yards and scored 27 touchdowns during his senior season in high school.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Jr. JC transfer DE/OLB Bernard Smith- The former Virginia Tech signee brings the kind of speed the Cajun defense needs off the edge.

Gut feeling on the team’s final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

The Cajuns will need to finish 6-2 in the SBC or better to have a shot at a bowl game. With OC games against Ole Miss, Oklahoma St., UGA and Ohio, the Cajuns will have a tough row to haul. The Cajuns must win six games in the SBC and defeat Ohio on the road to have a chance at a 7-5 season, and a bowl game.

Previous Sun Belt Previews: 
FIU Golden Panthers
North Texas Mean Green
Troy Trojans

Next Up: Miami Hurricanes

Previous Pre-Season Previews:
ACC- Boston College Eagles, Clemson Tigers, Duke Blue Devils, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Maryland Terrapins, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Carolina State WolfpackVirginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Big 12- Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Syracuse Orange, UConn Huskies, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue BoilermakersWisconsin Badgers
Conference USA- East Carolina PiratesHouston Cougars, Marshall Thundering Herd, Rice Owls, SMU Mustangs, Southern Miss Golden EaglesTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
Independent- Army Black Knights, Navy Midshipmen, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Central Michigan Chippewas, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
MWC- BYU Cougars,  Colorado State Rams, UNLV Rebels, Utah Utes
Pac-10- Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, California Golden BearsOregon Ducks, Oregon State BeaversStanford Cardinal, UCLA BruinsUSC TrojansWashington HuskiesWashington State Cougars
SEC- Alabama Crimson TideAuburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky WildcatsLSU Tigers, Mississippi Rebels, Mississippi State Bulldogs, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
WAC-Boise State Broncos, Fresno State Bulldogs, Hawaii Warriors, Louisiana Tech BulldogsNew Mexico State Aggies

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