After a week off, the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns are back in action and will have a tall task in front of them in the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It’s going to be a true test for several players this Saturday underneath the bright lights of Starkville, but there’s quite a few players that know what it’s like to be in this situation and that could prove beneficial in terms of just keeping their composure early on.
Without further ado, let’s go ahead with the preview!
Last Time Out:
The last time the Cajuns took the field, they were able to come away with a 49-17 win over the Grambling Tigers to start the Billy Napier on a positive note.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State came away with a 31-10 win on the road against Kansas State to improve to 2-0 in the Joe Moorhead era.
It’s been a long time since these two teams haved faced off. In fact, none of the players on the roster were even born yet. The last meeting took place in 1987 and the Bulldogs came away with a 31-3 win.
Missisisppi State has won all three of the previous meetings, allowing only three points.
What to Watch For:
Fitzgerald Tough to Tackle
The key player for the Bulldogs has to be Nick Fitzgerald. The senior quarterback looked good against Kansas State after being suspended in the season opener. Even head coach Billy Napier acknowledging the challenge that his team is facing on Saturday.
“I think he’s a big athletic guy that’s difficult to tackle. Does a good job of throwing completions and taking what the defense gives him.” Napier said during his press conference on Monday, “The main thing is that he’s very experienced, he’s been in some big games, he’s been very productive and you can see he’s picked up right where he left off last year. He’ll be a great challenge for our player.”
Here’s the thing, if Fitzgerald were to leave the ballgame for any reason there’s another quarterback in Keytaon Thompson who has shown to be a solid QB1 down the line. It not like some teams where there’s a clear QB1 and QB2, Joe Moorhead probably would feel pretty comfortable starting either one and not much change in terms of wins and losses.
Former Coach on the Other Sideline
When these two teams will face off, undoubtedly a big storyline will be who is on the sidelines or in the box for Mississippi State. It’s actually former Cajuns head coach Mark Hudspeth, who is now the tight ends coach after being fired at the end of the 2017 season.
If anybody knows an opponent more than anybody, it’s got to be Hud since he recruited a lot of these players. That being said, I think that Napier and his coaching staff are doing a great job at building a winning culture since mid-December when he was announced as the head coach. While these are Hud’s guys, Napier has started to transform them into his own type of player with a certain mentality.
If there’s anything positive to take away from these games where the Cajuns play well above their proverbial weight class is that you could see the Cajuns start to figure out their strengths when looking at their second line guys. If at one point in the ballgame it’s about a three-possession ballgame, the Cajuns will likely put their second stringers in to make sure they can get out of Starkville as unscathed as humanly possible, not just because of the thin roster numbers but because of the fact that now they have to play 11 straight games after the extremely early bye week.
When the second team comes out later in the ballgame, this is a big chance to figure out who can add some much-needed depth at certain spots where there might be a hole in a position group like the defensive line. That way, if for whatever reason players can’t participate in some ballgames you can figure out which guys can really make it a competitive ballgame once
Louisiana Will Win If:
If the Cajuns can come away with a win here, it will be a sizable upset and a lot of things will need to go right. Honestly, if they can keep it competitive against the Bulldogs and stay healthy, this could be a huge step forward for a team that is looking to establish its identity.
Mississippi State Will Win If:
It seems safe to say that the Bulldogs could come away with another win to improve to 3-0 with the amount of talent they have. Even Napier has said that this is a loaded squad, believing that Joe Moorhead has inherited a lot from the previous regime. Because of that, the Bulldogs seem to be the obvious choice here.