Vandals Head to Ragin' Cajun Country

Led by senior quarterback <b>Jon Van Cleave</b>, the Cajuns have been on an offensive rollercoaster this season. They've only won 1 game, a 34-0 shutout of UAB, but have twice put up over 28 points in SBC play. This weekend, however, they were shutout at home by North Texas 27-0. Of course, UNT has one of the best defenses in the nation, and played like it. That said, its Homecoming week for the Cajuns, and a chance for the Vandals to stay in the SBC hunt. Plenty is on the line.

GAME TIME: 2:00 PM (PST), Lafayette, LA

LINE: Idaho (1-1 SBC, 2-6) by 2.5 over UL-L (0-3 SBC, 1-7)

TV: None


This is head coach Rickey Bustle's first season in charge at UL-L, and his team has looked pretty good at times, while struggling immensely at others. Without a doubt, they have some outstanding athletic talent on their team. But they've also been riddled with injuries all season long. For one game this year they were able to put it all together to shutout UAB of Conference USA, 34-0. In fact, they started the season playing noticeably better than a year ago, losing to Texas A&M 31-7, Minnesota 35-11, and Houston 36-17 before their big UAB win.

But then they were drilled by LSU 48-0. They've since followed that loss up with a gut-wrenching 31-28 loss to NMSU, a 48-38 loss at MTSU, and a 27-0 loss to UNT last weekend at home. With 3 conference losses, they are out of the SBC title race, and keeping the team focused the rest of the season may be a huge challenge for Coach Bustle. But he certainly has the pedigree (OC for several years at Virginia Tech) and the talent to pull it off. They have solid overall team speed, and alot to build on for next season (they've already had hints of a good recruiting class signing with Lafayette this winter). Plus, this is their Homecoming Weekend, and a chance to make up for last weekend's loss.

Both Idaho and UL-L should have no trouble coming out fighting in this game.

Below is a quick glimpse at the players to look for this weekend, followed by links to additional information on the UL-L Ragin Cajuns.

Brett Coomer / AP
Senior running back #32 Jerome Coleman, fighting for yardage against Texas A&M.
Ragin' Cajun Offense

Projected starting lineup:

QB Jon Van Cleave, 6-5, 246, Jr
RB Jerome Coleman, 6-1, 238, Sr
FB Blake Bourque, 6-1, 245, Sr
WR Frederick Stamps, 6-0, 176, Jr
WR Andre George, 6-0, 198, Sr
TE Josh Joerg, 6-4, 237, Jr
LT Jonathan Raush, 6-7, 300, Sr
LG D'Anthony Batiste, 6-4, 295, Jr
C Ronnie Harvey, 6-0, 270, So
RG Greg Hodges, 6-1, 305, So
RT Demetrios Brooks, 6-3, 290, So

The Cajuns definitely have some impressive weapons on the offensive side of the ball, but they've struggled immensely this season. Currently, they're ranked second to last in the SBC in total yards per game, and last in rushing yards per game. With our defensive struggles this year, we certainly can't take anyone lightly, but this puts into perspective some of UL-L's troubles this season.

Senior QB Jon Van Cleave is an athlete with prototypical size (6-5, 246) who has had success this year, and is currently ranked 3rd in the SBC averaging almost 210 yards per game. However, he's also had his struggles with turnovers (12 on the season), and his QB efficiency ranks him fifth in the conference. That being said, he's good enough to take over a game, and has the arm strength and a good group of receivers to do some damage.

The receiving corp may be the strength of the offense, led by junior Fred Stamps and senior Andre George. One of the players expected to make a major impact this fall, senior Nick Dugas, is out, and the loss has affected the team's overall wideout strength. Still, the group is ranked among the top 5 in the conference, and are good enough to carve up secondaries if they aren't contained.

The running game has struggled this season (averaging as a team 55 yards per game), but is certainly nothing that Idaho can even think of taking lightly. The line paving the way for senior runningback Jerome Coleman has been beat up (junior center Tony Hull is out), in addition to being young and inexperienced (they start 3 sophomores from center to right tackle). But they've been instrumental in keeping the Cajuns in 2 of their 3 conference games this year, and are led by senior left tackle Jonathan Raush who is a horse (6-7, 300), and is among the best in the conference.

Brett Coomer / AP
Senior cornerback #27 Ivan Taylor breaks up a Texas A&M pass. The Cajuns lost the game 31-7 to start the season.
Ragin' Cajun Defense

Projected starting lineup:

LE G.W. Rudick, 6-1, 226, So
LT Charley Smith, 6-4, 273, Sr
RT Walter Sampson, 6-4, 287, Sr
RE Antonio Floyd, 6-1, 237, Jr
ILB Stanley Smith, 6-1, 234, So
ILB Dallas Charles, 6-0, 230, Jr
OLB Peter Villia, 5-10, 190, Sr
OLB Jamal Smith, 5-9, 200, Jr
LC Charles Tillman, 6-2, 192, Sr
SF Brian Deamer, 6-2, 201, Sr
RC Ivan Taylor, 6-1, 193, Sr

The Cajuns run a base 4-4-3 defense, which requires a solid defensive secondary. The Cajuns can pull this defense off because they have one of the best cover corners in the Conference, and has been mentioned among the best in the country, in senior Charles Tillman. With this alignment a tremendous amount of pressure is put on the corners (working in man coverage most of the time), and this senior laden secondary has delivered well this season (currently ranked third in the conference).

Up front this is certainly not the biggest group of linemen we've faced this year, but in typical Louisiana fashion, these guys are not hurting for speed either. The ends go about 6-1 and 230 pounds (they are without projected senior standout Justin Venable), but they get after it with aggressive play and are quick to the ball. The interior DL is anchored by senior Walter Sampson, who is among the best in the conference. Last season these guys struggled at times against the run, but thay have made some improvements this season (they've been giving up about 188 yards per game on the ground).

The linebacking corp has been hit hardest by injuries this season, and is without their best inside linebacker from a year ago, Ross Brupbacher. This group has had its struggles this season, but again are more than fast enough to contain most outside running attacks and get to the passer (the Cajuns are currently ranked 4th in sacks in the SBC).

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