September 18, 2008

Raginí Cajuns rebound, ready for Flashes

Like Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette ended the 2007 season with a 3-9 record. The Ragin' Cajuns hoped to turn things around in 2008 but started the season being drubbed, 51-21, at Southern Mississippi.

The Ragin' Cajuns didn't hang their heads. Instead, they gave No. 24 Illinois all it could candle last weekend in the Illini's 20-17 victory in Champaign.

Defensively, the Ragin' Cajuns limited Illinois to just one touchdown and a pair of field goals-the Illini's other touchdown came on a fumble return. The 20 points allowed was the fewest points allowed by the Ragin' Cajuns against a Top 25 team since 1998 (15 games).

"That was probably the best defensive game we've played in a long, long time here," said Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Rickey Bustle. "It was really a tribute to the kids. After what happened at Southern Miss, to come back and do the things that we didn't do against them and improve, I thought our defensive coaches had a heck of a plan."

Thanks to a pair of Louisiana-Lafayette turnovers-one set up a 51-yard field goal and the other was returned 27 yards for a touchdown-Illinois jumped out to a 17-3 lead. Neither team scored in the third quarter and the Ragin' Cajuns outscored the Illini, 14-3, in the final quarter of play.

After averaging over 250 yards rushing per game last season, the Ragin' Cajuns were held to 87 yards at Illinois.

"Offensively, we were disappointed that we didn't' run the football better," Bustle said. "But it's something we can do and we just have to block things better and hit the right hole."

After quarterback Michael Desormeaux scored on a 34-yard touchdown run to pull the Ragin' Cajuns to within 17-10 of Illinois, Louisiana-Lafayette committed its only special teams blunder of the game by allowing a 53-yard kickoff return to set up a 27-yard field goal to again put the Illini up by 10.

"Our special teams were solid again except that last kickoff return where we let them get a little too much there," Bustle said.

Still, despite the loss, Bustle was pleased with how his team responded after opening the season in such disappointing fashion.

"As much as anything, the enthusiasm and passion that his football team played with was just exciting to see; it was fun to watch," he said. "They played hard and had fun playing."

This weekend, the Ragin' Cajuns return to the comfy confines of Cajun Field-where they are 97-85-3 all-time-to face a Kent State team fresh off its first victory of the season.

For the first time this year, it doesn't look like the weather will affect the Ragin' Cajuns in their preparation for game day.

"I'm not sure if we can operate without the bad weather," Bustle said. "It's going to be good to just go through our routine and stay on schedule and hopefully that will help the crowd here. Our kids have been good to adapting to different schedules and bus rides."

Here's a look at how the two teams compare:







































CATEGORY
KENT STATE
LOUISIANA
ADVANTAGE
OFFENSIVE STATISTICS
Scoring/game
17.3
19.0
First Downs (Rushing/Passing/Penalty)
30/19/4
18/19/3
Rushing Yardage/game
194.7
175.0
Rushing Yardage/carry
4.7
4.5
Passing Yardage/game
159.7
165.5
Passing Yardage/attempt
6.8
5.6
Passing Yardage/completion
12.9
9.2
Total Offense/game
354.3
340.5
Fumbles-Lost
10-6
4-4
Penalties-Yards
13-99
12-98
Net Punt Average
31.6
37.4
Kick Returns-Average
13-16.2
8-22.5
Time of Possession/game
28:04
28:00
3rd down conversion percentage
39%
33%
Touchdowns Scored
7
5
Field Goals-Attempts
1-1
1-2
Sacks Allowed-Yards
5-31
3-20
DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
Points allowed/game
24.0
35.5
First Downs (Rushing/Passing/Penalty)
23/25/0
31/15/2
Rushing Yardage/game
163.0
310.5
Rushing Yardage/carry
4.0
5.9
Passing Yardage/game
189.0
176.5
Passing Yardage/attempt
7.3
7.5
Passing Yardage/completion
11.1
13.1
Total Offense/Game
352.0
487.0
Punt Returns-Average
6-10.0
1-5.0
Kick Returns-Average
10-24.6
7-15.7
Third Down Conversions
36%
48%
Sacks Allowed-Yards
6-48
2-15
Touchdowns Scored
9
9
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