Every college football program in country has questions that must be answered at certain positions at the beginning of the season. For the Ragin’ Cajuns, some of those questions will be answered after the first quarter of the schedule. Coaches will always tell you that football is a team game and each unit must play well together for a team to be successful on the field. We’ve put together a list of key players that must stay healthy and play well for the Ragin’ Cajuns to play in a fifth consecutive bowl game.
Brooks Haack - Served as the backup to Terrance Broadway last season, completing 20 0f 23 passes on the season for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This season, Haack will have the opportunity to run the Cajun offense as a starter. Of the top three quarterbacks on the roster, Haack is the most consistent throwing the football and has a very good touch on the deep ball. The one drawback for Books is he is not the athlete that Jalen Nixon or Jordan Davis are running the ball. In order for the Ragin’ Cajuns offense to be successful this season, Haack will have to have some success throwing the football down the field. When the offense stalled last season, it was because the passing game was not effective in throwing the football on obvious passing downs and going down the field.
Elijah McGuire – It’s no secret that McGuire is a huge part of the Ragin’ Cajuns offense, finishing 19th in all-purpose yards (1,848) in the country and 14 touchdowns. Elijah will have to carry more of the work load this season because he will no longer have Alonzo Harris to help absorb some of season’s punishment and wear on his body. While the Cajuns have quality depth at the running back position in seniors Effrem Reed, Torrey Pierce and Montrel Carter, none of them have the complete package of McGuire. The Cajuns can’t afford any serious injuries to Elijah McGuire this season, he just means too much to the offense and success of the team.
Jamal Robinson – Robinson was supposed to be the Cajuns go to receiver last season, but injuries limited him to only four games during the 2014 season. Before the start of fall practice, the program had enough depth this year to absorb any injuries at the position. With the injury to junior Jared Johnson and the dismissal of C.J. Bates from the program, the Cajuns now find themselves very young behind Jamal Robinson at the (X) position with true freshman Keenan Barnes. Coach Hudspeth has raved about the talent of Barnes, but does the coaching staff really want to break in a new starter at quarterback with a true freshman playing the position if Robinson is lost to injury again? The answer is no, because sophomore receiver Gabe Fuselier has worked at the (X) receiver position in case the position is hit with more injuries.
Eddie Gordon – Coach Hudspeth has had the luxury of playing only two athletes at the center position since his arrival on campus, Andre Huval and Terry Johnson. Both athletes had experience playing snaps the previous season. Coach Rodrigue has no such luxury with junior Eddie Gordon, starting his first ever game at the FBS level. Gordon took over the full time position at center during the spring and it is important he plays well and makes it through the season without serious injury. Behind him Coach Rodrigue has worked in sophomore tackle Grant Horst and senior guard Donovan Williams, neither of which are true centers. Behind them, true freshman Cole Prudhomme will travel in case of injury.
Darzil Washington – No player has made more of a transition in his physical condition this past offseason then Darzil Washington after missing conditioning work last summer while enrolled in junior college. Washington Played in the final 10 games of last season, finishing with 22 tackles (18 solo) with five tackles for loss, five sacks, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and one blocked kick. The Cajun’s defense had trouble at times putting pressure on the oppositions quarterback last season and Washington’s play this spring and fall indicate the talented senior is poised for a big season. For Coach Melvin Smith’s defense to be successful this season, Washington must become more consistent at getting pressure on the quarterback. He will have his own packages in the new defensive scheme.
Otha Peters – Peters is eligible this year, sitting out last season after transferring from Arkansas. Peters is a natural at the (Will) linebacker position and has proven to be very physical in the spring and this fall. Peters will play a huge role in the Cajun’s defensive efforts in slowing down the opponents running game up the middle, especially filling gaps backside of the (Sam) and trailing the play from the opposite side of the field. While Coach Lucas has depth behind Otha in senior Tyren Alexander, Peters is the more physical athlete in stopping the run game.
Stevie Artigue – After the 2012, Cajuns struggled to find a replacement for Brett Baer. The Cajuns brought in Stephen Brauchle to compete against Hunter Stover returning from injury. Neither was very consistent that season, leaving Coach Hudspeth with difficult decisions at times. After the 2013 season, Brauchle transferred out and Stover became the kicker the Cajuns were looking for in 2014. This season there is no Brett Baer or Hunter Stover and Coach Hudspeth finds himself in the unenvious position of starting the highly recruited true freshman Stevie Artigue. Artigue has shown a very strong leg this fall, hitting field goals of 50- plus yards twice during scrimmages. But like most young kickers, Stevie has been less than consistent early on in his development. Coach Hudspeth is keeping his fingers crossed that the young freshman kicker will be able to step up and hit field goals when called upon, not losing confidence in his ability. Behind him on the roster are senior Carlos Alvarez and redshirt freshman Dylan Scheurich, neither of which have been able to push Artigue to a redshirt.