The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 2019 campaign has started off pretty well with a 2-1 record that includes a hard-fought matchup against Mississippi State. However, things will be kicked up a notch with the team leaving the state of Louisiana for the first time this season when they head to Peden Stadium for a matchup against the Ohio Bobcats.
“We’ve got a heck of a challenge in front of us this week. We’ve got a really good Ohio football program that is well-coached.” Cajuns head coach Billy Napier said during his press conference on Monday, “They’ve got a great blueprint and play winning, consistent football. Coach Solich has done a great job of creating stability there since he’s built that program.”
Looking at the Bobcats record inside the friendly confines, they haven’t lost a home game since November 24, 2017. That will present a huge challenge for a program that hasn’t had the best run of things in true road games, going 2-5 in Napier’s first season, including two losses to App State inside ”The Rock”. Napier also mentioned that this will test the team’s intangibles that they’ve been working on since last season.
Bobcats Wounded Backfield
The Bobcats have one of the best QBs in the MAC in Nathan Rourke, they will be without some key players in the backfield with O’Shaan Allison and Julian Ross both suffering upper-body injuries. Napier, however, does expect to see some of these guys return.
“The combination of it all is what it all comes down to,” Napier said about the offense The quarterback distributes the ball well, makes really good decisions, and takes what the defense gives him. Certainly a great challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
Cajuns Defense Making Moves
After opening up the season with a 38-28 loss to Mississippi State, Louisiana’s defense has stepped up tremendously, allowing only 20 points in the last two games. Yes, the last two weeks have been relative cupcakes, but for the first time in a long time it feels like the Cajuns are playing up to every opponent regardless of classification and a lot of credit needs to go to the coaching staff.
“No question our staff did a tremendous job, I thought we had the players ready to play and a lot of that comes down to the veteran players on this team.” Napier said during his opening statement, “It’s easy to maybe overlook an FCS-level opponent or Vegas has you as a 40-plus-point favorite so for our staff to get our players in the right frame of mind. Starting fast was the challenge for our team and I thought we did that.”
Going back to the defensive side of the football and it’s clear that progress has been made and it looks likely that they will be put to the test and a lot of that will have to do with Ohio’s star QB. One of the keys will be without a doubt the Cajuns ability to adapt to the team’s weaknesses.
“I think we’re doing a good job mixing it up schematically. We’re covering better and we’re fitting runs better but this will be as big of a challenge as we’ve had here.” Napier mentioned, “This is a really good offensive line and a really good quarterback. Typically those are things that will give you issues. When a quarterback knows what he’s doing and when they’ve got an offensive line that can get the ball to the second level. We’ve adapted how we played offense based off where we are defensively as a team. As we get more and more stops and get off the field on third down, we’re able to play more tempo.”