Welcome everyone to the latest edition of #4Downs where we break down the good, the bad and the ugly of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. This week, we look at the Cajuns season opener against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
First Down: Cajuns Defense Shines
While allowing almost 500 yards of offense isn’t ideal, take a step back and see how the defense performed in terms of keeping it competitive. The Cajuns could have been down 14-0 within the opening five minutes of Saturday’s ballgame. The Cajuns defense was able to get after Tommy Stevens on that drive and more importantly, a Michael Jacquet strip-sack kept the Bulldogs out of the endzone on their second drive.
Looking back at last season’s lopsided 56-10 loss to the Bulldogs, there’s a very clear improvement on the defensive side of the football with year two in Ron Roberts system.
2nd Down: Levi Lewis Shakes Off Early Struggles
After throwing an interception on the first play from scrimmage, it immediately seemed like he wasn’t ready for the big stage. There were some questionable decisions like taking a knee on 4th down at the end of the second half, but as the game progressed, he got more confident in the pocket. Late in the first half, Levi went 7-of-8 for 76 yards after starting out absolutely awful.
The Scotlandville product still has a lot to learn, but after one game there’s a clear plan in place for Lewis to be a true dual-threat QB. One game does not a season make and the junior will learn from his mistakes as the team begins to prepare for Liberty.
3rd Down: Turnovers Kill Cajuns
Anytime a team commits five turnovers, it’s going to be very difficult for that team to bounce back from. If not for the aforementioned defensive efforts, this could have been a worse showing than last year’s matchup in Starkville. If there’s one thing that needs to be improved coming out of the season, its ball control with three total fumbles, two of which were committed by Lewis.
They do that against some of the teams they play throughout the 2019 season, the expectations of making it back to the Sun Belt Conference title game will vanish into the ether.
4th Down: Pushing the Pile
We already knew that the Cajuns running backs are absolute monsters, but it was more evident on Saturday with Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell pushing the pile. It’s one thing to do that against a Sun Belt program, but doing that against an SEC team that still had a formidable front-seven despite seven players being suspended for a violation of team rules.
This Cajuns running back room alongside a veteran offensive line has an opportunity to do something special based on how the season opener went with Raymond Calais, Trey Ragas, and Elijah Mitchell combining for 174 yards on the ground.
Extra Point: Turnover Cane
Last year saw the turnover shoulder pads debut for the Ragin Cajuns and it looked like something that was left in the Road Warriors closet. This year saw a new addition to the celebration and that is the touchdown cane.
It was around for much of last season as well, but it got a lot more notoriety with the bright lights of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome combined with a national television presence on ESPNU. That definitely gave many Cajun fans watching at home or on DVR plenty of reasons to cheer after a big touchdown before the first half wrapped up,