Louisiana football fell off last season after going 13-1 overall in 2021. Between new coach Michael Desormeaux and lost key players, coming back for 2022 was a struggle. Desormeaux is back and is continuing to work on the offensive line. The Ragin' Cajuns have a schedule that (for the most part) shouldn't cause problems. The returning players are sparse but should help maintain the integrity of the defensive line. With the recent development of the OL and the depth of the DL, Louisiana football could be back on the up.
LOUISIANA FOOTBALL 2023 PREVIEW
THE CONF.: SBC Sun Belt Conference
2022 RECORD: 7-7 overall, 4-4 Sun Belt
CONF. FINISH: 3rd in the East Division
HEAD COACH: Michael Desormeaux, 2nd year, 7-7
ALL-STAR CANDIDATES: A.J. Gillie, Jr./LG (Phil Steele first teamer); KC Ossai. Jr./LB (62 total tackles); Sonny Hazard, Jr./DT (26 total tackles); Dre'lyn Washington, Soph./RB (350 YDS, 5.5 AVG); Chandler Fields, Jr./QB (106 completions, 1,123 YDS); Neal Johnson, Sr./TE (296 YDS, 2 receiving touchdowns); Mason Narcisse, Jr./DT (Phil Steele postseason candidate).
THE NEWCOMER: Antoine Baylis, Jr./DL (comes from Southwest Baptist, had 15 total tackles in 2022)
QB Ben Wooldridge and QB Chandler Fields are up for the starting position. Wooldridge is back from an ACL tear that he sustained last season. He beat Fields in pass yards at 1,661 to Fields' 1,123. QB Zeon Chriss took the spot in the spring, as Wooldridge and Fields (non-football injury) were still recovering. The quarterback group is solid and shouldn't be a cause for concern if they all stay healthy.
The list of receivers may be questionable, as Louisiana loses Michael Jefferson, Errol Rogers, Dontae Fleming, and TE Johny Lumpkin. Jacob Bernard, Peter LeBlanc, and TE Neal Johnson return, holding down three spots with solid experience. After their setback last season within the OL, it should start to show improvement.
The defensive line seems decent, even though the Ragin' Cajuns did lose their top player DE Zi'Yon Hill-Green and two backup players. NT Sonny Hazzard, Jordan Lawson, Nijel McGriff, Marcus Wiser, and Antoine Baylis are all there to make up for the losses. The depth of the DL should be reassuring, as long as the replacements play up to par.
THE KEY GAME AND WHY
Louisiana plays on the road at South Alabama (Oct. 28). They will likely try to redeem themselves after a loss last season (20-17). If the Ragin' Cajuns can pull off a win here, it could be the push they need to win the more difficult games that follow.
THE TOUGHEST GAME AND WHY
The toughest game will be against Troy. They're a tough team that has a lot of returning talent who went 12-2 overall last season.
THE CHANCE MAKING CONF. TITLE GAME
It's a good thing that "never say never" doesn't have an expiration date because never say never. Probably just not this season.
Louisiana will go 7-6. A bowl game is a possibility. The outcome will heavily depend on the ability to efficiently fill the gaps on a roster with few returning starters.
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