2012 Record: 9-4 (6-2 in Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth (18-8 at UL, 84-29 Overall)
Last Bowl Game: 2012 New Orleans Bowl: beat ECU 43-34
Stadium: Cajun Field in Lafayette, LA (capacity = 31,000)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 9th out of 55 mid-major teams
2013 Schedule Link
Out of Conference: 8/31 at Arkansas, 9/7 at Kansas State, 9/14 vs Nicholls State, 9/21 at Akron
Toughest Conference Home Games: 11/30 vs ULM
Toughest Conference Road Games: 10/15 at WKU, 10/22 at Arkansas St
2012 Statistics Link
Stats to Fear: gave up 211 plays of 10 or more yards (last in Sun Belt)
Stat to Cheer: converted on 94.74% of red zone trips (1st in Sun Belt)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 75th out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 7, Defense: 6, Special Teams: 0
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Justin Anderson (105 tackles), DE Christian Ringo (7 sacks)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Terrance Broadway (2842 yds pass, 65.2% completions, 17 TD, 9 INT, 769 yds rush, 9 rush TD), RB Alonzo Harris (881 yds rush, 5.18 ypc, 10 TD)
Since taking over the Ragin Cajuns, Mark Hudspeth has posted back to back 9-4 seasons and has gone 6-2 in the conference both seasons finishing third in 2011 and in a tie for second in 2012. Is this the year Hudspeth and his team can take the next step and wear the Sun Belt crown?
Last year the Cajuns had the highest scoring offense in the league with the highest ypc average in the rush game and highest yards per attempt in the pass game. Terrance Broadway took over at QB in 2012 and he's back for his junior season. Broadway combined a good completion percentage (65.2%), the ability to make plays with his feet (6.46 ypc and 9 rush TDs) with the big play (52 passing plays went for over 20 yards for Louisiana last season). The Cajuns ran the ball around 55% of the time last year and this year they return all of their leading rushers including Alonzo Harris (881 yds rush, 5.1 ypc, 10 TD). If there is a weakness at the skill positions it could be at receiver as they must replace their top two pass catchers. The good news is that they were deep at receiver last year and have a lot of talent returning at receiver and tight end. The OL will need to replace two starters this season but should still be a solid unit.
The defensive line must rebuild a bit as they lose their top two tacklers (those players were also second and third on the team in sacks). Leading sacker Christian Ringo (7 sacks) does return and will lead that unit. The LBs corps returns it's leading tackler Justin Anderson as well as Jake Molbert but must replace Le"Marcus Gibson and Qyen Griffin. The LBs will need to be more explosive this year. In 2012, the unit had just 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 INTs. The defensive backfield will see the most turnover as they will attempt to replace their top three players. Whether or not the Ragin Cajuns can win their first Sun Belt conference title could very well depend on the defense.
The Ragin Cajuns schedule this year is tough but it's definitely workable. It starts out with two very challenging out of conference games at Arkansas and at Kansas State. Both of those teams are from BCS Conferences but they both have huge question marks this season as Arkansas has a new coach and a new philosophy and the Wildcats must replace their all-star QB and a host of seniors on defense. In conference, the challenge will be getting WKU and Arkansas State on the road but, like Arkansas, both of those teams will be breaking in a new coach. The division title will probably come down to the second to last game of the season when the Ragin Cajuns host the ULM Warhawks.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
C-USA- ECU, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB, UTEP, UTSA
MAC- Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, EMU, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo,UMass, WMU