This isn't the situation K-State expected. First-game struggles and all that are one thing, but losing to an FCS team in a non-conference schedule that nobody was impressed with anyway? That's a good way to make an early game a lot more important than it should've been.
But that's what we have. K-State already faces an uphill climb toward ordinary season goals, namely the bowl-eligibility baseline, after the NDSU loss. Beating Louisiana is now imperative.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a/k/a Louisiana, a/k/a Louisiana-Lafayette, a/k/a U-La-La, is located in Lafayette, Louisiana. For those unfamiliar with Louisiana (raises hand), it's right along I-10, about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge. University enrollment is 17,602, and the Ragin' Cajuns compete in the Sun Belt conference.
The Ragin' Cajuns are coached by Mark Hudspeth. You may remember him from when I mentioned him as a possible replacement for Bill Snyder in our season-opening roundtable. He was very successful at North Alabama, and has turned Louisiana into a bowl team. While they haven't pulled a notable upset like Louisiana-Monroe -- beating K-State in Bill Snyder's first year back doesn't really count -- they've been pretty close. This isn't a team to mess around with.
Players to Watch
Passing: Jake Waters, 21-29-2, 280 yards, 9.7 yards/attempt, 2 TD, 280 yards/game
Rushing: John Hubert, 10 carries, 23 yards, 2.3 yards/carry, 0 TD, 23 yards/game
Receiving: Tyler Lockett, 7 receptions, 113 yards, 16.1 yards/reception, 1 TD, 113 yards/game
Passing: Terrence Broadway, 15-28-1, 171 yards, 6.1 yards/attempt, 1 TD, 171 yards/game
Rushing: Alonzo Harris, 10 carries, 56 yards, 5.6 yards/carry, 1 TD, 56 yards/game
Receiving: Jacob Maxwell, 6 receptions, 77 yards, 12.8 yards/reception, 1 TD, 77 yards/game
Typing those numbers for John Hubert just makes me sad.
It's hard to learn a lot about a team that played an Arkansas team that should be pretty good. Junior quarterback Terrance Broadway leads this offense, and he's good. In 2012, he passed for 2,842 yards (9.0 yards/attempt) and 17 TDs against nine interceptions. Broadway also ran for 769 yards and nine more touchdowns. So all we have to do is trust our defensive line and linebackers to keep an eye on him and keep him in check and he shouldn't be a problem at all. Nope, nothing to see here.
Louisiana is a run-based team, attempting rushes almost exactly twice as often as passes last season (480:242). Junior running back Alonzo Harris ran for 881 yards on 5.2 yards per carry last season, resulting in 10 touchdowns. As a team, UL averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Team Statistics (from CFBStats.com) (2012 Stats) (2013 Stats)
K-State: 32nd nationally, 194.0 yards/game; 114th, 41 yards/game
Louisiana: 34th, 193.46 yards/game; 97th, 85 yards/game
K-State: 90th, 207.8 yards/game; 41st, 280 yards/game
Louisiana: 41st, 261.5 yards/game; 80th, 189 yards/game
K-State: 59th, 401.8 yards/game; 89th, 321 yards/game
Louisiana: 29th, 454.9 yards/game; 99th, 274 yards/game
K-State: 21st, 127.2 yards/game; 93rd, 215 yards/game
Louisiana: 43rd, 143.85 yards/game; 110th, 292 yards/game
Pass Efficiency Defense
K-State: 43rd, 124.7 rating; 62nd, 131.5 rating
Louisiana: 70th, 134.3 rating;105th, 192.3 rating
K-State: 46th, 376.1 yards/game; 59th, 380 yards/game
Louisiana: 87th, 427.3 yards/game; 100th, 522 yards/game
As Bill mentioned in his preview, this offense was both efficient and explosive last year. With Broadway, Harris and a couple returning receivers who had more than 500 yards receiving last year -- Darryl Surgent and Jamal Robinson -- they could be again this year. But they did lost two important starters from the offensive line.
On defense, UL lost two good defensive linemen in Emeka Onyenekwu and Cordian Hagans, who combined for 22.5 TFL and 11.5 sacks last season. Interior linemen Christian Ringo (10.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks) and Justin Hamilton (8.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) are back, which isn't good news for an offensive line and rushing "attack" that couldn't do anything against North Dakota State.
Justin Anderson led the Ragin' Cajuns in tackles last year with 105, and added 8.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks and an interception to that, and returns to lead the linebackers this season. Jake Molbert also returns at linebacker, but only registered 49 tackles and 2.0 TFL last season. This wasn't an especially impressive group last year, and it's a matchup advantage (we hope) K-State needs to exploit.
Now for the secondary, and the reason Jake Waters should be licking his chops. The three best players from last year's Louisiana secondary -- safety Rodney Gillis (75 tackles, 5 interceptions), and cornerbacks Jermarious Moten (65 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 4 interceptions) and Melvin White (64 tackles, 4.0 TFL) -- are gone. The new secondary is led by safety Trevence Patt, who recorded only 26 tackles and two pass breakups last year. Both new cornerbacks -- Cedrick Tillman and Corey Trim -- are junior college transfers, and the other safety, Sean Thomas, played mostly on special teams last season, though he did record an interception and 0.5 TFL.
Assuming K-State's offensive coaching staff take the reins off their players for this game, both teams should be able to put some points on the board. Louisiana's defense has some solid returnees, but it wasn't all that great last year, has a lot of new faces in the secondary, and took it on the chin from Arkansas last week.
On the other hand, Terrance Broadway should legitimately concern you. Louisiana won't be as big and bruising as North Dakota State, but the Ragin' Cajuns have more speed across the board. K-State's defensive line really needs to stand up in this one.
Special teams coverage is always a concern for K-State, but Louisiana had only one touchdown on a return last year. K-State needs to avoid giving up a big play on special teams like it did last week to set up North Dakota State's first touchdown.
This game makes me nervous. I'd much rather be playing Massachusetts this week. While I think the Wildcats will come out fired up and we'll see a lot better effort than we did last week, the Ragin' Cajuns are no pushover. But I think K-State will put enough points on the board to even its record at 1-1.
K-State 45, Louisiana 34