For the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, this Saturday’s conference opener will come down to assignment football.
Louisiana (2-1) opens up Sun Belt Conference play on the road Saturday at Georgia Southern (1-2), a program that is well known for being a difficult team to defend.
The reason? The Eagles run an option-based offense which in the era of spread and pro style offenses is extremely rare in college football. That’s where playing assignment football on defense comes in for Billy Napier’s team.
“It’s all about assignments and alignment with us this week,” senior Ragin’ Cajuns nose tackle Tayland Humphrey said. “Coach (Patrick) Toney always talks about 11 different hats and 11 different gaps. I feel as long as we do that, as long as everybody stays on their assignment then everything will be right.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns will get a little help with those assignments as starting linebacker Ferrod Gardner and starting defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill return from injury.
The Ragin’ Cajuns defense will be tasked with slowing down the Eagles’ rushing attack.
Georgia Southern enters Saturday’s contest averaging 219 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry, while having a trio of dangerous running backs to contain in Logan Wright (243 yds.), Amare Jones (119 yds.) and Gerald Green (93 yds.)
What makes Georgia Southern’s offense more difficult is the running ability by quarterback Justin Tomlin. After missing the first two games due to being ruled academically ineligible, Tomlin rushed for a 76-yard touchdown against Arkansas last week.
“The quarterback’s a dynamic runner,” Napier said. “He can go the distance and you’ve got to account for him. You’re seeing a little bit more of that.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns have been working this week on defending Tomlin by having scout team quarterback Lance LeGendre run the option in practice.
“The big challenge when you play these teams is simulating what they do in practice,” Napier said. “This is an opponent that often spends additional time on during training camp and spring practice because of the uniqueness of what they do.”
“It is fun actually,” Humphrey said. “You know Lance is going to give it his all. He’s putting the passes on point and he is making people miss. He is making us better tacklers.”
RAGIN’ CAJUNS AT A GLANCE
WHO: Louisiana (2-1) at Ga. Southern (1-2)
WHERE: Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m.
SERIES HISTORY: Cajuns lead series 3-1.
LAST MEETING: 20-18 win in 2020.