The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have struggled on third down.
Through two games of the season, the Ragin’ Cajuns offense has been unable to sustain drives converting only 33.3 percent (9-of-27) of its third down conversions. The defense meanwhile has been unable to get off the field as opponents are converting 61.29 percent (19-of-31) on third down.
For fourth-year coach Billy Napier, the issues on third down come to the details.
“We need to play with more detail, we’ve got to get our veteran players to play their best football, and some of these rookie-inexperienced players have got to develop as the season goes much like we have done in the past,” Napier said.
“I think it’s the execution of the call,” Napier added about the defense not getting off the field. “I think it was a lot of times where we’re in a good call and we’re one man away on a lot of those plays in terms of executing the call and positioning ourselves for success — whether that’s alignment or whether that’s location on your drop or whether that’s execution of the game upfront.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns will be looking for a more detailed and focused approach when the team takes the field tonight at Cajun Field. Louisiana (1-1) hosts Ohio (0-2) in the first of four mid-week contests for the Ragin’ Cajuns this season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Louisiana is taking on an Ohio team that has a slow start to the post-Frank Solich era of Bobcat football. Tim Albin’s team started the season with a 29-9 loss to Syracuse and then suffered a 28-26 defeat at the hands of Duquesne — a FCS team out of the Northeast Conference. The win was the Dukes’ first over an FBS opponent in program history.
Yet, Napier is making sure his team doesn’t take the Bobcats for granted.
“Thursday night will be a big challenge,” Napier said. “Ohio we are very familiar with them having played them two years ago. Lots of the same players on the film and a lot of the same coaches. They are different in terms of how they are put together.”
Ohio is led by its running game which is averaging 136.5 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. O’Shaan Allison and De’Montre Tuggle lead the Bobcats backfield. Allison leads the team with 119 yards and averages 5.7 yards per carry, while Tuggle has 109 yards and averages 4.7 yards per carry.
“If you want to stop the run then you have to have really good play up front,” Napier said. “You have to strike your strike blockers, you have to have good gap integrity and all the run fits have to be sound. When given the opportunity you have to tackle well.”
Even though the Ragin’ Cajuns may have areas of improvement, Napier saw in-game improvement in Saturday’s 27-24 win over Nicholls.
“We understand not only as a staff but more importantly the players understand,” Napier said of the team needing to improve. “The good thing is as the game went we fixed some of those issues which is always what you like to see as a coach.”
RAGIN’ CAJUNS AT A GLANCE
Who: Ohio (0-2) at Louisiana (1-1)
Where: Cajun Field, Lafayette
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Series History: Cajuns are 1-2 against the Bobcats
Last Meeting: 45-25 win in 2019