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The big 2015 UL-Lafayette football guide: Can Cajuns make 5 straight 9-win years?

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The 128-team preview countdown reaches the country's most consistent program, in one way at least.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Mark Hudspeth is still the Cajun coach

I have to admit, I'm pleasantly surprised. When a Sun Belt school makes a good hire, the reward is typically the opportunity to make another good hire in about three years.

Arkansas State had Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn for one year each. Bryan Harsin, too. Former Sun Belter Western Kentucky got three years and a dramatic turnaround out of Willie Taggart, then got Bobby Petrino for one year.

Typically, if you get a good coach for a long period of time, he's either a veteran (like North Texas' Dan McCarney), or he's damaged goods (like Troy's Larry Blakeney for so many years), or he trails off a bit (like Todd Berry at UL-Monroe).

But against odds, Mark Hudspeth remains at UL-Lafayette for what will be his fifth season in charge. The Ragin' Cajuns won an average of 3.6 games per season in the 14 years before Hudspeth's arrival, peaking at 6-5 under Rickey Bustle. With Hud in charge, they have found themselves stuck in a pleasant version of Groundhog Day: 9-4 with a New Orleans Bowl win every year.

Hudspeth inherited a team with athleticism and nothing to show for it, and he figured out what to do with it. And through his recruiting, he's raised that athleticism. So why is Hud still in Lafayette?

Perhaps the right job hasn't come open yet. Thanks to his two years of coaching under Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, his name was tied to a potential MSU vacancy a couple of years ago before Mullen surged. His name was also tied (by me and only me, ahem) to any potential Missouri vacancy from a couple of years ago before Gary Pinkel surged.

Perhaps his regional résumé scares schools from outside. Hud is a Delta State graduate who has coached at Central Arkansas, Nicholls State, Delta State, North Alabama, Mississippi State, and UL. He spent one single season as Paul Johnson's offensive coordinator at Navy before taking the North Alabama head coaching job, and that's really the only time he's ever been north (relatively speaking).

Perhaps his success has been too steady. This is a massive flaw with coaching searches, but the coaches who experience sudden breakthroughs tend to generate more buzz. Turner Gill, for instance, moved from Buffalo to Kansas mainly because of his burst from 5-7 to 8-6 and a MAC title in 2008. Gary Anderson parlayed the Utah State job into the Wisconsin job when USU jumped from 7-6 to 11-2. Mike MacIntyre moved from San Jose State to Colorado when SJSU jumped from 5-7 to 11-2. Hud's timing was off -- his Cajuns erupted in his first year, from 3-9 to 9-4, but they haven't moved up or down since.

Perhaps he's missing that breakthrough win. Again, this is a silly reason, but coaches sometimes get attention because of a marquee victory -- Toledo's Pinkel whipping Penn State, for instance. But this is basically the only thing lacking from Hudspeth's Cajun résumé. He is 0-8 vs. power conference teams (average score: Opponent 46, Cajuns 23), and only two losses (2012 to Florida, 2011 to Arizona) were within 20 points. Of course, that means UL-Lafayette is 36-8 in its own weight class, which is awfully impressive.

Perhaps he just likes Lafayette. I assume he likes it a lot, actually. The fan support seems strong, and he's finding the resources he needs to win and win and win. Hudspeth stayed at North Alabama for seven years, so he seems to be a patient guy. And he's still only 46. Maybe that has made him much pickier.

Whatever the reason, this is great for the program. Even if he does jump, the longer he sustains success, the better the infrastructure will be for the next guy.

And while I thought 2014 was shaping up as a make-or-break season when it comes to gaudy win totals -- UL boasted a senior quarterback, senior running back, two seniors as leading receivers, three likely senior starters on the offensive line, and probably six senior starters on defense -- the combination of injuries and strong recruiting meant for a lot more underclassmen playing last fall. The transition from 2014 to 2015 seems like it might be far less painful than expected.

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 9-4 | Adj. Record: 9-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 72
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug Southern U. N/A 45-6 W 76% 16.7 100%
6-Sep Louisiana Tech 35 20-48 L 20% -20.0 2%
13-Sep at Ole Miss 5 15-56 L 5% -38.3 0%
20-Sep at Boise State 21 9-34 L 10% -29.4 0%
4-Oct Georgia State 122 34-31 W 53% 1.5 97%
14-Oct at Texas State 95 34-10 W 89% 28.1 100%
21-Oct Arkansas State 66 55-40 W 85% 24.4 98%
1-Nov South Alabama 89 19-9 W 60% 5.7 85%
8-Nov at New Mexico State 124 44-16 W 73% 14.3 100%
15-Nov at UL-Monroe 97 34-27 W 65% 9.2 95%
22-Nov Appalachian State 104 16-35 L 15% -24.1 2%
29-Nov at Troy 126 42-23 W 67% 10.0 99%
20-Dec vs. Nevada 64 16-3 W 63% 7.5 84%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 30.6 55 30.2 78
Points Per Game 29.5 61 26.0 58

2. Dreadful, then lovely

Things start over after this year. Broadway and a lot of play-makers are seniors, and this might be the year that a major-conference team finally comes calling for Hudspeth (if he's interested). Another 8-4 regular season would feel disappointing. But while last year gives me slight pause, I will go ahead and say that this team should be the class of the conference, an easy favorite with a good schedule and the athleticism for which other conference mates yearn. Maybe we'll see the Year of the Ragin' Cajun after all.

Needless to say, the Cajuns did not meet my expectations in September. It wasn't that they started 1-3, it's that they performed terribly in losses to Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, and Boise State by a combined 138-44. Be it because Hudspeth teams don't know how to perform when they don't have an athletic advantage, or be it simply because they weren't ready to play well, there were some terrible duds.

Following a nearly disastrous game against Georgia State -- the offense was fine, but the defense allowed 425 yards to a bad GSU offense, and the Cajuns trailed by three until a late Jamal Robinson touchdown -- the ship began to right itself.

  • Average Percentile Performance, first 4 games: 27% (record: 1-3)
  • Average Percentile Performance, last 9 games: 63% (record: 8-1)

The defense shut down a solid Texas State offense, then the offense rocked Arkansas State. UL won eight of its final nine games, and though a disappointing home game against Appalachian State prevented sharing the Sun Belt title with Georgia Southern, finishing 9-4 again doesn't feel quite as disappointing when you start 1-3. And the defense looked fantastic in shutting down Nevada to end the season. That probably helped with the general positivity level.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.84 73 IsoPPP+ 104.9 57
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 46.9% 19 Succ. Rt. + 111.0 33
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 26.6 6 Def. FP+ 104.9 24
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.5 54 Redzone S&P+ 109.3 42
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 13.8 ACTUAL 14 +0.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 57 51 40 57
RUSHING 24 34 21 38
PASSING 100 75 81 80
Standard Downs 41 28 49
Passing Downs 90 77 90
Q1 Rk 50 1st Down Rk 48
Q2 Rk 74 2nd Down Rk 64
Q3 Rk 55 3rd Down Rk 79
Q4 Rk 44

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Terrance Broadway
216 342 2295 13 9 63.2% 24 6.6% 5.9
Brooks Haack 6'1, 219 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8410 20 23 179 2 0 87.0% 1 4.2% 7.0
Jalen Nixon (2013) 6'2, 226 Jr. NR 0.7900 6 12 108 1 1 50.0% 2 14.3% 6.9
Jordan Davis 6'3, 185 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7819
Dion Ray 6'0, 194 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8640

3. Upside and a favorite

Terrance Broadway's UL career finished on a solid note, with another bowl win and another nine-win campaign. He will go down as one of the most alluring athletes in the program's history; in three years as the Cajuns' starting quarterback, Broadway threw for 7,556 yards, rushed for 1,877 (including sacks), threw for 49 touchdowns, and rushed for another 20.

He also got banged up from time to time. That didn't help the Cajuns in the present tense, but it gave us some looks at his backup, Brooks Haack. And Haack passed most of the tests he was given. He struggled in a late-2013 loss to South Alabama, but he has still completed 41 of 58 passes in his career (71 percent) for 403 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. (Take out that USA game, and he's 36 for 44, 82 percent.)

This is a tiny sample size, but one has to be optimistic about the position because of the options. If Haack can't hack it (sorry) with a chance at the full-time gig, the Cajuns might be able to turn to Jalen Nixon (a run-first backup in 2013 who was suspended for part of 2014), redshirt freshman Jordan Davis, or exciting three-star freshman Dion Ray.

And whoever wins will be able to lean on his running back a bit.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Alonzo Harris RB
172 807 12 4.7 4.2 34.9% 3 3
Elijah McGuire RB 5'11, 198 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8789 166 1264 14 7.6 7.9 47.6% 1 0
Terrance Broadway QB
122 785 3 6.4 3.9 57.4% 3 1
Effrem Reed RB 5'8, 193 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) N/A 28 138 1 4.9 3.3 39.3% 0 0
Torrey Pierce RB 5'9, 170 Sr. NR N/A 11 43 0 3.9 2.7 27.3% 0 0
Brooks Haack QB 6'1, 219 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8410 6 21 0 3.5 1.0 50.0% 0 0
Darius Hoggins WR 5'7, 165 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793 5 21 1 4.2 2.5 20.0% 0 0
Ja'Marcus Bradley RB 6'1, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8133
Jordan Wright RB 5'11, 207 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8074






4. Get to know Elijah McGuire

Broadway had plenty of shining moments in 2014, and he shouldered a decent load: about 28 pass attempts and 10 rushes per game. But he also had the luxury of handing the ball to Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire 26 times per game.

And while Harris did a lot of the dirty work between the tackles -- using flexbone parlance (since Hudspeth did spend a year with Paul Johnson), Harris was used more as a fullback, while McGuire was used more as a slot back, right down to his "No. 2 receiver" status -- McGuire was the star. In 223 intended touches (carries and targets), the sophomore generated 1,767 yards and scored Sun Belt Player of the Year honors. He fumbled only once in those 223 attempts.

McGuire's role could change. Either he shoulders more of the rushing load, or Hudspeth and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson find him a new backfield mate; senior Effrem Reed looked decent in limited opportunities, and per the Composite, the Cajuns did sign two three-star freshmen in Ja'Marcus Bradley and Jordan Wright. But only Wright is bigger than McGuire, so McGuire might be doing more of the power running this year. That would make him more valuable and hurt his per-touch averages.

Regardless, McGuire is potentially the most high-ceiling player in the conference, and he's a weapon every new quarterback should have.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
James Butler WR-Z
72 38 470 52.8% 21.2% 59.7% 6.5 -8 6.5 56.2
Elijah McGuire RB 5'11, 198 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8789 57 45 503 78.9% 16.8% 57.9% 8.8 -22 8.8 60.1
Al Riles WR-H 5'10, 209 Jr. NR N/A 48 34 319 70.8% 14.2% 56.3% 6.6 -85 6.6 38.2
Gabe Fuselier WR-H 5'11, 175 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7752 34 30 264 88.2% 10.0% 55.9% 7.8 -80 7.8 31.5
Larry Pettis TE
23 20 155 87.0% 6.8% 56.5% 6.7 -75 6.7 18.5
Jamal Robinson WR
21 15 260 71.4% 6.2% 76.2% 12.4 82 12.9 31.1
C.J. Bates WR-X 6'1, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 19 12 167 63.2% 5.6% 42.1% 8.8 21 9.1 20.0
Jared Johnson WR-Z 6'5, 215 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 17 10 96 58.8% 5.0% 64.7% 5.6 -27 5.6 11.5
Torrey Pierce RB 5'9, 170 Sr. NR N/A 10 9 60 90.0% 2.9% 40.0% 6.0 -43 5.9 7.2
Devin Scott WR-X 5'11, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7993 9 4 79 44.4% 2.7% 33.3% 8.8 27 6.3 9.4
Nick Byrne TE 6'3, 228 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7967 8 5 29 62.5% 2.4% 87.5% 3.6 -32 4.1 3.5
Matthew Barnes TE 6'3, 229 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7833 4 1 4 25.0% 1.2% 50.0% 1.0 -12 1.2 0.5
Anthony Jones TE 6'6, 260 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8560
Keenan Barnes WR 6'3, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8457
Gary Haynes WR 5'9, 175 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8389
Carlos Robinson TE 6'3, 213 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8240
Michael Jacquet WR 6'2, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8088
Jarrod Jackson WR 6'0, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7980

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 112.8 3.66 3.8 44.3% 81.6% 14.9% 79.9 6.8% 8.2%
Rank 26 2 17 18 2 16 103 102 78
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Daniel Quave RG 52 2014 1st All-Sun Belt
Mykhael Quave LT 6'5, 295 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7701 39 2014 2nd All-Sun Belt
Terry Johnson C
26
Octravian Anderson RT 6'4, 295 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) N/A 26
Donovan Williams LG 6'3, 315 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) N/A 13
Jarad Martin LG
0
Greg Siener RG 6'4, 280 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7333 0
Eddie Gordon C 6'1, 320 Sr. NR N/A 0
Grant Horst RT 6'5, 260 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7759 0
Ian Bjuro OL 6'3, 270 So. 2 stars 0.7300 0
D'Aquin Withrow LT 6'6, 275 So. NR N/A 0
Kevin Dotson OL 6'4, 311 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7859

5. Injuries? No thanks

UL-Lafayette finished last season with exactly five offensive linemen with starting experience. This speaks to both consistency on the part of these starters (i.e., none of them was replaced), and it speaks to a little bit of injuries luck.

But -- damn, did you notice that all five starters' totals are divisible by 13? And that UL-Lafayette plays 13 games each year? Daniel Quave started every game of the Hudspeth era to date. Mykhael Quave has not missed a game in his three years of starting. Terry Johnson and Octravian Anderson finished up their second full seasons as starters last year, and Donovan Williams started all 13 games in 2014.

It is conceivable that UL's weight training program is the best in the Sun Belt and that the Cajuns are therefore more equipped to handle injuries. But there's at least a little bit of luck here. Alabama and LSU don't avoid line injuries, so barring some sort of voodoo, the Cajuns are probably due. Three of last year's five starters are back, and there will be some upperclassmen in the mix, but if you never suffer injuries, you never test the second string, and it's hard to say what the others on the depth chart have to offer.

Line health could be important to the Cajuns' quest for another big win total. McGuire's great, and the passing game should be competent with five of last year's top seven wideouts (most of whom were efficiency guys) returning. But unless another big-play threat emerges, the Cajuns will have to score on eight-play drives instead of four-play drives, which opens the door to trouble if the line is suffering breakdowns.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.89 88 IsoPPP+ 96.1 82
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 39.9% 50 Succ. Rt. + 98.7 72
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 31.1 40 Off. FP+ 97.0 99
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.4 71 Redzone S&P+ 109.6 32
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 16.3 ACTUAL 17.0 +0.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 74 75 73 82
RUSHING 35 62 50 72
PASSING 108 92 84 91
Standard Downs 76 60 84
Passing Downs 81 86 83
Q1 Rk 98 1st Down Rk 113
Q2 Rk 93 2nd Down Rk 91
Q3 Rk 57 3rd Down Rk 84
Q4 Rk 63

6. New blood

From a physical standpoint, UL-Lafayette easily had one of the most impressive defensive fronts in the mid-major universe. The Cajuns' line stats were phenomenal, and anybody who watched the New Orleans Bowl saw what players like Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton were capable of against mid-major lines.

Ringo and Hamilton are gone. So are linebackers Trae Johnson and Boris Anyama. And both starting cornerbacks. And safety Sean Thomas. And as of last week, defensive coordinator James Willis.

If the offensive line holds up, it's not hard to see the offense playing at a similar level. But the offense might need to improve to offset defensive regression. Hudspeth has recruited well, and there's depth because the second string returns mostly intact. But those seven above combined for 49.5 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, three interceptions, 12 pass break-ups, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. That's a lot to replace, especially while learning from a new DC.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 112 2.30 3.22 33.0% 62.5% 23.6% 134.6 6.6% 9.3%
Rank 27 5 58 15 35 15 16 28 33
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Christian Ringo DT
12 40.5 5.7% 20.5 11.5 0 0 0 1
Justin Hamilton NT
12 21.5 3.0% 9.0 4.0 0 0 0 1
Taboris Lee DT 6'2, 277 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7585 9 14.5 2.0% 3.0 1.0 0 0 1 0
Marquis White NT 6'5, 315 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 7 14.0 2.0% 1.5 1.5 0 2 0 0
Jacoby Briscoe DE 6'3, 325 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8703 7 14.0 2.0% 2.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Chris Prater DE 6'5, 246 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7333 7 9.5 1.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Rodrick Stephens DL 6'0, 305 So. 2 stars (5.4) N/A 5 5.0 0.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Remaine Douglas DL 6'3, 287 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7544 5 4.0 0.6% 1.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Marvin Martin DL
2 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Darrien Batiste DL 6'2, 244 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 2 1.5 0.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Mario Osborne DE 6'4, 250 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8550







7. Size is not an issue

Christian Ringo was remarkably disruptive, and replacing Hamilton will be a tall task. But at least we know the replacements will pass the eyeball test. The top six returning linemen have an average size of 6'3, 293, and that includes 246-pound Chris Prater and 6'0 Rodrick Stephens. Junior Jacoby Briscoe is both a former star recruit and an oak tree, and another star recruit, Mario Osborne, might have the size to make an early contribution.

So UL should be tough to push around up front. That's a consolation even if there's a drop in overall ability.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Dominique Tovell WLB 6'2, 248 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7333 13 54.5 7.6% 9.0 2.5 0 0 0 0
Trae Johnson WLB
9 39.0 5.4% 2.5 1.5 0 1 1 0
Boris Anyama BUCK
13 36.0 5.0% 8.5 2.0 0 2 1 0
T.J. Worthy SLB 6'2, 195 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8472 10 31.5 4.4% 0.0 0.0 1 3 0 0
Kevin Fouquier MLB 6'4, 235 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7700 8 30.5 4.3% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Jake Molbert SLB
9 25.0 3.5% 4.5 2.0 0 0 2 0
Tre'maine Lightfoot MLB 6'0, 232 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7908 7 22.5 3.1% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
T.J. Posey MLB 6'0, 235 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8482 10 21.5 3.0% 2.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Darzil Washington BUCK 6'3, 215 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 9 19.0 2.7% 6.0 5.0 0 0 1 0
Tyren Alexander SLB 6'0, 208 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.7800 7 9.5 1.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Christian Sager LB
3 4.5 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Marcus Jackson LB
4 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Otha Peters (Arkansas) LB 6'2, 230 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9000








8. Playmakers at linebacker

Seven Ragin' Cajuns finished with at least 4.5 tackles for loss, and only two return in 2015. But in leading returning tackler Dominique Tovell and pass-rush specialist Darzil Washington (combined: 15 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks), the new coordinator will have at least a couple of exciting pieces. Plus, three-star sophomore T.J. Posey could be ready for a larger role, and former four-star Arkansas signee Otha Peters joins the mix as well. There might -- might -- be enough to offset the losses up front.

Meanwhile, it's hard to read the secondary. That three of four starters are gone isn't a good thing, but five other players with experience -- including three former three-star recruits -- do return, and four of the five are either juniors or seniors. Three-star JUCO transfer Jeryl Brazil joins, as does three-star freshman Terik Miller. It seems like the depth might be pretty good, though Corey Trim (six TFLs, seven passes defensed) was a special playmaker to replace at cornerback.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Corey Trim CB
13 71.0 9.9% 6 0 2 5 0 0
Trevence Patt CB
10 41.0 5.7% 1 0 0 2 0 0
Tracy Walker SS 6'2, 180 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 12 39.0 5.4% 0 0 2 3 1 0
Sean Thomas FS
12 37.5 5.2% 2 0 1 2 2 0
Travis Crawford FS 5'11, 185 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7726 8 26.5 3.7% 1 0 0 2 1 0
Jevante Watson CB 5'10, 175 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) N/A 9 16.0 2.2% 0 0 1 3 0 0
Dominick Jones CB 5'11, 174 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7700 5 12.5 1.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Troy McCollum DB 6'0, 170 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8377 3 8.5 1.2% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Simeon Thomas (2013) CB 6'3, 180 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8385 3 8.0 1.2% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Antoinne Adkins DB
3 6.5 0.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zachary DeGrange S 5'10, 193 Sr. NR N/A 4 4.5 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Reginald Miles, Jr DB 5'8, 168 So. NR N/A 3 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Montrel Carter DB 5'10, 195 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7667 13 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Christian Goodlett DB 5'11, 175 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) N/A
Jeryl Brazil CB 6'0, 180 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8591
Terik Miller S 6'0, 220 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8324
Ethan Rose DB 5'10, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7985








Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Daniel Cadona 58 42.9 6 14 24 65.5%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Hunter Stover 77 60.5 34 3 44.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Hunter Stover 43-46 17-18 94.4% 2-5 40.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Montrel Carter KR 5'10, 195 Sr. 25 20.6 0
Torrey Pierce KR 5'9, 170 Sr. 3 24.0 0
Elijah McGuire PR 5'11, 198 Jr. 15 7.7 0
C.J. Bates PR 6'1, 200 Jr. 2 0.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 54
Field Goal Efficiency 27
Punt Return Efficiency 36
Kick Return Efficiency 89
Punt Efficiency 85
Kickoff Efficiency 59
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 34

9. A Les move

As with potential line injuries, losses in special teams are a potential -- but not definite -- red flag. Hunter Stover was a strong kicker and kickoffs guy, and while the coverage unit let him down at times, Daniel Cadona was a solid punter. They're both gone, which could spell danger, but might not.

In a wonderfully Louisiana move, Hudpseth signed an Australian kicker, Steven Coutts, in this class. If he in any way lives up to the standard set by those brought in by Les Miles at LSU, then legs might not be a problem.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
5-Sep at Kentucky 68
12-Sep Northwestern State NR
26-Sep Akron 105
3-Oct at Louisiana Tech 35
? New Mexico State 124
? Texas State 95
? Troy 126
? UL-Monroe 97
? at Appalachian State 104
? at Arkansas State 66
? at Georgia State 122
? at South Alabama 89
Five-Year F/+ Rk -13.7% (86)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 103 / 93
2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 3 / 2.5
2014 TO Luck/Game +0.2
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 10 (6, 4)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 8.6 (0.4)

10. A minor drop-off, perhaps

I am less certain about UL-Lafayette. There are options at quarterback, but there's a high standard. Elijah McGuire's back, but he doesn't have a known, bruising partner in the backfield. The offensive line is just begging to get hit by injuries at some point. The defense must replace seven disruptive starters. And there will be a new kicker and punter. For a team that didn't grade out as well as I anticipated last year, this is all reason for concern.

Still, if anybody in the Sun Belt has the depth to compensate, it's Hudspeth's. For nearly every position to fill on the depth chart, the Cajuns have a choice between veteran backups and three-star youngsters. Throw three intriguing players at one vacancy, and the odds are good one will stick. Haack has all sorts of potential at quarterback. Size remains a strength. The linebacking corps overflows with athleticism. The defensive backfield might, too.

When a team has the same season for four years in a row, it's easy to assume a similar season will unfold in the fifth. But while the Cajuns will have a chance at another nine-win campaign -- the non-conference schedule lightens up, with Kentucky replacing Ole Miss and Akron replacing Boise State, and there's no Georgia Southern -- I'm going to assume the product regresses.

After ranking 83rd, 66th, 83rd, and 72nd in F/+ in Hudspeth's four seasons, respectively, maybe the Cajuns fall to the No. 85-90 range. Win at Appalachian State or Arkansas State, and the Sun Belt title might still be within reach, but the quality will suffer at least a bit.

Still, that's an impressive sustained level for a Sun Belt team, and if Hudspeth is still in Lafayette for a sixth year in 2016, he'll have a ridiculously experienced squad at his disposal.