Wednesday afternoon was a very interesting time if you’re a fan of the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns as they hired former West Georgia Coach Will Hall as their new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
What do we know about him? Well, we know that he has had a solid record as a head coach and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports him to be a head coach in the FBS in the near future. Outside of that, most fans in the Louisiana area don’t know much about what West Georgia has done the last few seasons.
After diving into the deep end of Division II football, I’ve come up with some observations about what you could expect to see out of the Cajuns new OC in 2017.
The Ragin Cajuns have used the two-quarterback system at one point or another the last two seasons and it was less than stellar because of how it was used. Looking at the 2015 season where it was used throughout the season, defenses knew what the Cajuns were doing depending on who was taking the snaps. If Jalen Nixon was out there, more often than not, he was going to run it. On the other hand, when Brooks Haack was out there, he was doing way more throwing of the ball than running.
Hall has been using the two-QB system as well, but there’s a big difference when it comes to how he’s used it. Looking at his three years at West Georgia, the usage of a second quarterback was an as necessary situation. For instance, in 2015 Dallas Dickey threw the ball a whopping 91 percent of the time when he was on the field and made a play that wound up in the stat sheet. His backup quarterback Wil Garrett was used as a mobile QB and was used in medium yardage situation as most of his longest runs that year were between 5-10 yards. Based off of these observations, it can be seen that he wants to have a primary quarterback who can air it out and have his second quarterback used in short yardage situations.
Slightly More Balanced
If there’s one thing that the Cajuns offense has relied on, it’s the run game. Just last season alone 74 percent of plays were runs. This is gold for programs that are preparing for the Cajuns as they can see they like to run it way more. It’s been that way for some time, especially during the Hudspeth era when he had two of the best ever to wear the vermillion and white in Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire. Without either of them in 2017, there might be some changes in terms of the offensive philosophy.
When you look at Hall’s time at West Georgia, he has kept it relatively balanced with an emphasis still on the run game. Last season may have been the closest when it comes to being balanced. In 2016, the Eagles ran 668 offensive plays and 56 percent of those were running plays. When compared to the Cajuns offense, this would be a welcome surprise as having more of a balance makes you less predictable when it comes to what you could do. After the last several years for the Cajuns living and dying by what their running game can do, a slightly more balanced offense could do wonders.
High Scoring Offense
The Ragin Cajuns are coming off one of their worst scoring seasons in the Hudspeth era with 23.6 points per game. The Cajuns the last three years were unable to crack the 30 point range, despite getting close to it in 2014. If not for poor offensive showings against Ole Miss and Boise State, they could be above 30 points per game.
Hall was able to get above 30 points each of his three seasons as the head coach of West Georgia. The offensive success can be pointed to what was mentioned earlier with their offensive balance, In each of his first two seasons with the Eagles he got to the Division II semifinals and in 2015 alone, they were putting up an average of 36.7 points per game and had more than twice the amount of passing touchdowns than interceptions. The offensive ability of that 2015 season could be what the Cajuns need to get back to over .500 in 2017.
Cajuns fans should be truly excited for what’s to come from Will Hall. He does have some similarities to what the Cajuns have done, but is able to bring more of a balance to a team’s game. With his past with coach Mark Hudspeth it could be seen as a good thing because of how their relationship was. Hall was Hudspeth’s quarterback while he was at North Alabama and won what is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman. If he can help the quarterbacks develop over the course of spring practice and fall camp, this could be the season that Cajuns fans have been wanting for some time.
The shuffling of coaching positions is also good because it puts former offensive coordinator Jorge Munoz back where he excelled: developing the wide receivers. Let’s not forget that he helped develop Jamal Robinson and Al Riles, two solid receivers. If I were to grade this hire based off of what I know about him, I’d have to give him an A-.