Looking ahead

Some Tennessee football fans are distressed that the Vols have won zero SEC championships since 1998, have played in zero BCS bowl games since '99 and have posted double-digit wins just three times in the past eight years.

Pardon fans of Louisiana Lafayette if they are unable to relate. The Ragin' Cajuns have won more than seven games in just two of the past 33 seasons and have NEVER been to a bowl game ... BCS or otherwise.

This might be the year that changes, however. Louisiana Lafayette, which visits Neyland Stadium Nov. 3 for Tennessee's Homecoming Game, went 6-5 in 2005 and 6-6 in 2006. The Ragin' Cajuns were perhaps a win away from going bowling each of those seasons. With most of the key players from last year back for another shot, this might be the year they get "over the hump" so to speak.

First, though, Louisiana Lafayette must develop some consistency. It lost its 2006 opener 45-3 at LSU and fell 51-7 at Texas A&M in Game 2. However, the Ragin' Cajuns bounced back to register four wins in a row, including a 31-28 road upset of a Houston team that wound up playing South Carolina to a 44-36 loss in the Liberty Bowl. Louisiana Lafayette was hammered in its '06 finale, however, squandering any bowl hopes it might have entertained.

In a column entitled "All The Rage" posted at foxsports.com, Pete Fiutak of collegefootballnews.com notes that "No Sun Belt team is more due and more ready to finally break out and go bowling than UL Lafayette. Agonizingly close over the last two years to being in the bowl mix, ULL went 6-5 in 2005 with a dominant second half of the year winning the final five games, and then had a winning 2006 season and a post-season spot all but secured before getting blasted 39-20 by rival UL Monroe. Now there's no excuse not to do even more and crank out one of the team's best seasons ever."

Fiutak describes ULL quarterback Michael Desormeaux as "one of the league's best all-around playmakers, able to run as well as any back and potentially good enough to make a few plays here and there with his arm."

The Ragin' Cajuns also have an exceptional rusher in Tyrell Fenroy, who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He was pretty much the whole attack in 2006, rushing for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The key – as is the case with almost every rushing attack – is to mount enough of a passing threat to keep defenses honest. Fiutak notes that Desormeaux should perform better after two years spent learning the ULL system but adds "if he's not throwing more effectively to stretch the field, the ground game won't be as good as it could be."

Lafayette's passing attack was mediocre in 2006, which is why the Ragin' Cajuns converted on just 33.8% of their third-down opportunities.


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