The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns opened their 2023 Sun Belt schedule by traveling to Norfolk, Virginia, and battling the Monarchs of Old Dominion. In a game that was delayed an hour due to weather, both offenses flashed to the tune of 69 total points, but a late red-zone stop from ODU helped the Monarchs pick up a 38-31 victory over the Cajuns on their home turf at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
The Cajuns had an opportunity to tie the game in the final possession after driving 90 yards down the field, but four straight incompletions in the final minute from the seven-yard line would thwart all momentum and allow ODU to secure the key win at home.
Now, with the Cajuns sitting at 1-1 on the season, they will head to Birmingham to take on a Trent Dilfer-led UAB team that dropped an offensive affair to Georgia Southern last week 49-35. The last time these two programs met was in 2020 with the Ragin Cajuns winning 24-20 in a nationally televised game.
However, before that game arrives on Saturday, head coach Michael Desormeaux held his weekly press conference on Monday where he broke down the road trip and what his team took away from the loss.
“A loss is only a loss if you don’t learn from it”
The opening message from Desormeaux at Monday’s press conference following the 38-31 loss was that his team is certainly not where they want to be (starting 0-1 in SBC play), but whether or not his team learns from their mistakes will be the key in the future.
“Our response here is going to be the big thing,” Desormeaux said. “How we bounce back and go back to work and approach our work every day during the week so that we can get the results that we want on Saturday.”
Young skill players stepping up
Desormeaux spoke highly throughout the summer about his young talent at skill positions. St. Martinville’s Harvey Broussard was one of the many names mentioned and he has delivered in the first two games. Broussard has five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown as he scored on the Cajuns’ first drive of the game against Old Dominion. Also, Robert Williams from Humble, TX has stepped up, as he leads the Cajuns with 89 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
He also had praise for Zylan Perry, who has had success in the return game but had seven carries for negative yards in Saturday’s game. With the injury to Dre’Lyn Washington, who is still listed as questionable, Louisiana will look to players like Perry and Terrance Williams to carry the workload in the backfield.
“We need to do a better job of forcing turnovers”
The Louisiana defense has made 50 tackles in two games with eight sacks (3.5 from Jordan Lawson), but only one turnover. That lone turnover came on a recovered fumble in Week 1 against Northwestern State. The losses of Kam Pedescleaux and Trey Amos in the secondary (plus Bralen Trahan and Eric Garror graduating) have regressed the Louisiana secondary to where they haven’t been able to create a single interception in two games. It’s still very early in the season, but Desormeaux believes his team has to do a better job of creating takeaways.
Louisiana (1-1, 0-1 SBC) will battle UAB (1-1) Saturday night at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama. The kickoff for this contest is set for 6:00 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN+.