July 10, 2009

Summer forecast: Louisiana-Lafayette

Coming off the heels of a big showdown on the road against Virginia Tech, Nebraska gets to come home and take on a Louisiana-Lafayette team looking to bounce back from a rough 2008 season.

In the fourth installment of HuskersIllustrated.com's new "Summer Forecasts" series, we take a look at Nebraska's biggest strength and weakness against the Rajin' Cajuns.

NU's biggest strength: Airing it out

Facing a defense that ranked 105th nationally in total defense last season, Nebraska should be able to do whatever it wants against Louisiana-Lafayette offensively. Obviously the running game will be a priority early on, but don't be surprised to see the Huskers try and stretch the field early and often for some big plays.

Junior quarterback Zac Lee will be three games in to his first year as a starter, and he should settled in and confident by the time the Rajin' Cajuns come to Lincoln. As a result, the Huskers will likely try and exploit a ULL secondary that ranked 75th nationally in pass defense and gave up more than 216 passing yards per game.

If anything, Louisiana-Lafayette's biggest strength defensively is its front four. That's even more reason for the Huskers to go after the Rajin' Cajuns through the air and jump out to a big lead. After that, NU can simply let its running game finish things off.

NU's biggest weakness: Turnovers

In reality, the biggest thing Nebraska should have to worry about in this one is staying out of its own way. On paper, the Huskers hold a clear advantage in every aspect. However, turnovers can keep any game close.

In their five non-conference games last season, the Huskers committed seven turnovers, which made some relatively close games out of what many expected would be blowouts. Louisiana-Lafayette forced only 20 turnovers last season (77th nationally), but with nine returning defensive starters, don't think the Rajin' Cajuns won't take advantage if NU hands them opportunities.

With presumably the ability to do what it pleases against ULL's defense, Nebraska shouldn't have ay trouble putting points on the board. That is, however, unless it can't hold onto the ball long enough to put it in the end zone.

Early HI.com projected point spread: -26

Early HI.com final score prediction: NU 52, ULL 14

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