The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns opened the 2023 season with a win over Northwestern State 38-13 in the Herbert Heymann Classic at Cajun Field at Our Lady of Lourdes Stadium. For Louisiana, the game was up-and-down with good things happening on both sides. Head coach Michael Desormeaux wants to stay on the positives but knows his team has a lot to work on.
“Anytime you come off with a game, you’re trying to correct the things that need to be corrected and build off the positives,” Desormeaux said. “I think the first thing was as a team, we played really hard, we set the tone physically, which is something we talked about being our trademark, right? We want that to be who we are.”
Here’s what Desormeauc touched on during his weekly presser Monday:
Wooldridge looked healthy
The senior quarterback who is just nine months removed from tearing his ACL looked solid in victory, completing 14-32 passes for 223 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He also had a 24-yard rushing touchdown.
Probably the moment that he looked the healthiest was when Zylan Perry coughed up the football and a Northwestern State defender took off down the sidelines. The only person on the Cajuns’ offense that was able to catch him and bring him down is Wooldridge, who looked faster Saturday night than he did at any point in 2022.
“I said it before the season,” Desormeaux said during the press conference. “I told him this. If you can’t physically do everything that you need to do to play your game, then you will not play week one. I’m not mad at you. Like That’s not fair. This summer and fall camp. I mean, the guy did everything we needed him to do.”
“I think he’s faster than he was before, to be quite honest with you. I mean, I don’t want my quarterback tackling people a whole lot. But in that case, it doesn’t matter. You know, you got to get there. I was proud of him. I mean, that’s an effort play. It’s a hostile play, but that’s who he is.”
Conference play begins next week
Coaches always say the biggest improvements come from Week 1 to Week 2, and Louisiana will need that to be true more than ever. Due to scheduling issues, Louisiana will begin its Sun Belt Conference slate by traveling to Old Dominion.
The Monarchs struggled in their first year as a member of the SBC, going 3-9 on the season, but they did manage to pick up a Power 5 win over Virginia Tech. The Hokies exacted their revenge this past Saturday, beating ODU 36-17 behind three touchdowns from Marshall transfer Grant Wells.
ODU comes with a defensive nightmare in Jason Henderson and a quarterback transfer in Grant Wilson. Ricky Rahne struggled in year one, but things are looking up in Norfolk and the Cajuns will have to execute better against Old Dominion if they want to start their conference record if the first number is on the “Win” side of things.