While Cajun fans spent most of Monday lamenting on talk radio and web sites about Saturday's 55-0 lost Nebraska, the football staff and athletes have focused their attention on North Texas. Clearly, there is nothing positive to take out of the Nebraska game, but there is much to consider about the future upcoming Sun Belt Conference schedule. What are some of tidbits from this past weekends performances in Sun Belt play and what does it mean for the Cajuns chances at competing for a conference championship?
Next opponent North Texas (1-3, 0-1 SBC)
North Texas is coming off a 37-21 lost this past weekend to Middle Tennessee in Denton. The score would tell most casual football fans that the Mean Green faced an explosive Blue Raider offense and their defense is just not good. But MTU was aided by five turnovers in the game, including three interceptions that marked the return of quarterback Riley Dodge. The UNT offense still spreads the ball all over the field in the passing game, but does have a good running back in Lance Dunbar. Dunbar finished with over 100-yards rushing in the game, including a 66 yard run for a td in the second quarter. North Texas does play better defense then it did last season, but it is still questionable at best. Both teams have an off week to prepare for each other, the Cajuns better be ready.
Western Kentucky (0-4, 0-0 SBC)
Western Kentucky is 0-4, but is coming off a 38-22 loss to Navy last weekend. But the Hilltoppers are getting better every time out and finished with 434 yards in total offense in the game. WKU has several talented athletes, including QB Kawaun Jakes that makes the offense run. Jakes is athletic and talented, accounting for 276 yards passing and 44 yards rushing against the Navy defense. He will present some problems for the Cajuns, but WKU should be 0-5 after facing FIU in Florida next weekend.
Florida Atlantic (1-3, 0-1 SBC)
FAU lost a heart breaker 27-25 to ULM at home this past weekend. The Owls had opportunities to win the game, but could not get it done. Rusty Smith is still has a cannon of an arm , throwing for 347 yards in the game and RB Alfred Morris rushed for 122 yards and 1 td. FAU still has plenty of talent on offense, and as Rusty Smith goes, so goes the Owl offense. The FAU defense is not as good as last season and will make Owls a lot more vulnerable on the road at Cajun Field. FAU face Wyoming and North Texas before traveling to Cajun Field.
Florida International (0-3, 0-0 SBC)
FIU is 0-3 coming into this weekend's contest against ULM. The Panthers still have a formable offense at times with QB Paul McCall and WR sensation T.Y. Hilton, but their running game has been abysmal. The FIU defense has played well in spots, but has given up tons of yards and certainly won't put a scare into most offensive coordinators. The Panthers will face ULM, WKU, Troy and ASU before facing the Cajuns. I wouldn't be surprised to see them 1-6 going into that game, playing three of the four previous games on the road.
Arkansas State (1-2, 0-1 SBC)
ASU is coming off a tough 30-27 loss at home to Troy this past weekend. Starting QB Corey Leonard has played inconsistently and was pulled during the game against Troy. The Red Wolves still have a very good defense and a solid running game with Arnold and Lawson. What they don't have is a very good schedule to help them down the stretch. ASU will face a ranked Iowa team on the road this weekend and then a rival game at ULM, FIU in Jonesboro and a decent Louisville team on the road. The Cajuns could very well face an angry 2-5 ASU squad in Jonesboro that week. Coach Roberts will take some comfort in the fact the Cajuns haven't won in Jonesboro since both programs have joined the SBC. This will be a very tough game for the Cajuns, with all the pending emotion of the side of ASU.
Middle Tennessee (3-1, 1-0 SBC)
The Blue Raiders are coming off another outstanding offensive effort at North Texas, winning 37-21. MTU are the front runners right now in the SBC with QB sensation Dwight Dasher leading the way with 1,279 total yards and 10 td on the year. But the Blue Raiders have their concerns on the defensive side of the ball, giving up 374 yards per game. MTU will face Troy, Miss State, WKU, FAU and FIU before taking on the Cajuns in Murfreesboro. At worst, MTU will be 6-3 when the Cajuns come calling and could remain the team to beat.
ULM (2-2, 1-0 SBC)
The Warhawks are coming off an impressive 27-25 win over FAU on the road. ULM has a very good offense lead by QB Tre Revell and a dual rushing attack of RB's Frank Goodin and Isaiah Newsome. ULM's offense is averaging 379 yards per game and is solid on the O-line as well; The Warhawks area of weakness is on the defensive side of the ball. They have played the run well, but lack depth in the line due to attrition from their last two recruiting classes. This will be a rival game for the Cajuns and a chance to win before the home fans. ULM will face FIU at home this weekend and then a rough three games in a row against ASU, Kentucky and Troy. The Warhawks will play two winnable games against North Texas and WKU before facing the Cajuns. ULM could come into Cajun field with a winning record, which would make this game even more interesting.
Troy (2-2, 1-0 SBC)
Troy is still the program to beat after an impressive 30-27 road victory against ASU in Jonesboro this past weekend. The Trojans have a manageable schedule with home conference games against MTU, ULM, NTU, FAU and WKU, Arkansas and UL on the road. Troy is still very good on offense with QB Levi Brown, dynamic Jerrel Jernigan and WR Tebiarus Gill. The defensive front seven is very good, with the one glaring weakness in the secondary with four new starters. Troy is still the team to beat and the Cajuns have a shot at home to make a statement.
Other off week concerns
The Cajuns main concerns will be to get the walking wounded back on the field and finding a few more play makers on the offensive side of the ball. The most serious injury concerns at this point seem to be safety Gerren Blount (stress fracture in leg), tackle Jonathan Decoster (ribs) and wr Marlon Miller (shoulder). The rest of the list includes Chris Fisher, Chris Richard, Maurice Rolle, Lance Kelley, Richie Falgout, Richard Brooks and Matt Desormeaux.
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