The Louisiana senior running back, Raymond Calais, is one of the more effective offensive players on the Ragin’ Cajuns.
So it’s a little underwhelming to see Calais only get 81 carries in 14 games last season. And not to mention, that same season, he only caught the ball six times.
Calais is among a crowded, yet premiere, rushing attack with Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell.
Looking at Ragas and Mitchell, you cannot make the argument they deserve less touches.
You can look at Calais’ numbers and start to think of how he can be utilized more in the offense.
Calais averaged 9.3 yards per carry in the 2018 season. He totaled 754 yards on 81 rushes with seven rushing touchdowns. He only got 5.7 rushing attempts per game in 2018.
OK, maybe he was used in other ways. There are other ways to contribute to the offense. Calais returns kickoffs and he can be used as a receiver out of the backfield. Well, he only had six receptions all of last season.
Through the first two games of the new year, Calais has run the ball 16 times and he has three receptions. He’s coming off a 111-yard rushing performance against the Liberty Flames.
Ragas has carried the ball 18 times while Mitchell has received the most rushing attempts with 29 after the first two games against Mississippi State and Liberty.
Rushing Attempt Distribution (First Two Games):
Mitchell – 29
Ragas – 18
Calais – 16
Total Rushing Yards (First Two Games):
Ragas – 192
Calais – 191
Mitchell – 105
All three running backs aren’t directly incorporated into the passing offense. They have combined for only seven of the team’s 40 total receptions. Now they are used to set up passing plays for quarterback Levi Lewis to connect with Ja’Marcus Bradley, Bam Jackson, and Jamal Bell.
I’m done throwing numbers out there.
Let me acknowledge the counterpoint to featuring Calais more offensively.
Too much of a good thing. He could average over 9 yards a carry like he did last season. Right now he’s at 11.3 yards per rush. But the law of diminishing returns could kick in if Calais begins to get more touches. It’s not realistic to expect 11 yards per carry on 15-20 rushes a game.
Less Ragas and Mitchell. The reason Louisiana has the rushing offense that they do is because they can rotate these players often enough to keep them fresh throughout the game. Once Calais gets featured more then the rhythm of the offense might get thrown off.
Now I’ll make the case for more Calais.
I already pretty much made the case. He’s efficient with his touches and explosive out of the backfield. Last season he had a 92-yard run against Georgia State and a 72-yard run against Arkansas State. Calais just had a 68-yard run against Liberty on Saturday.
Calais gives Lewis a more dynamic option in the passing game, too. Good things seem to happen when Calais gets the opportunity.
All I’m saying is I want to see a little bit more of Calais when Louisiana takes on Texas Southern this Saturday at Cajun Field.