The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns easily won their season opener 38-13 against FCS opponent Northwestern State.  The Cajuns out gained the Demons 429 to 187 and yet there was a sense Louisiana didn’t play very well.

A few factors to consider

  • After deciding to move the game back one hour due to the expected high temperatures, a lightning delay caused the kickoff back another 20 minutes.
  • Four 1st Half turnovers, three by the Cajuns, never allowed any rhythm to the game.  The 1st Half took almost 2 hours to play.
  • Teams combined to convert 3 of 20 3rd Down, contributing to 11 1st Half punts.
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Throw in Cajuns QB Ben Wooldridge coming back very quickly from knee surgery and the tragic news of defensive lineman Mason Narcisse’s father passing away, causing him to miss the game.  There were more than few legit reasons why it was such an uneven game.

Having said all of that, the offense was sloppy and must improve.  The defense on the other hand was pretty good, if not outstanding.

Louisiana allowed just 100 yards in the first have and 187 for the game.  The Demons last offensive play of the game was a well designed wheel route that resulted in a 47 yard touchdown pass.  Which means, the Cajuns defense allowed a grand total of 40 yards in the first 28 minutes of the 2nd half.  Tough to improve on that.

The Cajuns offense is a different story and while balanced, 223 passing yards, 206 rushing yards, it needs to be much more effective.

As Head Coach Mike Desormeaux indicated, he expected Wooldridge to be a little rusty following his surgery, but 14 for 32 isn’t going to cut it.  And that’s against Northwestern State.  What happens against Troy and Southern Miss?  Although let’s not be too harsh on Ben.  He did account for four Cajuns touchdowns, three passing and one rushing.

He also prevented Northwestern State from putting points on the board.  After Zylan Perry fumbled inside the Demons 10 yard line, Wooldridge, surgically repaired knee and all, tracked down Cadillac Rhone after a 77 yard return.  And because the Demons fumbled, they didn’t even get a chance to attempt a field goal.

The rushing stats look good, 206 yards on 34 carries, averaging more than six yards (6.1) per carry.  And it includes a 62 yard touchdown by Dre'lyn Washington on the Cajuns second play from scrimmage and Wooldridge running 24 yards for another touchdown on a student body run to right.

But take away those two runs, now it 120 yards on 32 carries, and their six yard average dips below four (3.75).  So the offensive line is going to have to improve.  Quinton Williams is expected back at right tackle this week.

And while the Cajuns won’t look ahead, I will.  They play Old Dominion this weekend in Norfolk to open Sun Belt play, but their first Sun Belt home game will be against Texas State.  And the Bobcats just upset Baylor, in Waco no less, 42-31.  Cajuns will have a month before that game, so there is time to clean up their issues.

Overall, not a bad start to the 2023 season for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.  Their next two games on are the road against the Monarchs and then UAB.  If the offense can get it’s act together and the defense continues to play that well, no reason the Cajuns aren’t 3-0 when they host the Buffalo Bulls in three weeks.

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