What do we say about the Ragiin' Cajuns? Better question, what can we say about them? Well, they're 2-0, pulling off a blowout win against a SWAC team, and then a surprise victory against Kansas State, possibly the worst Big 12 team this year. Against Southern, they just plain old outplayed them, as the Ragin' Cajuns outgained the Jaguars 533-380 and beat them on the scoreboard by a score of 42-19.
Against Kansas State, it was a slightly different story. The Wildcats outgained ULL 377-287, got a higher rushing average (4.3 ypc vs. 3.5 ypc), a better ypa passing (6.0 vs. 5.1), and fewer turnovers (2 vs. 1). Kansas State even scored a safety. It really is hard to explain how ULL won that game. But win they did. In fact, they led most of the game, before giving up the lead on a late touchdown and getting it back with a last-minute field goal.
Kansas State drove the ball into ULL territory 5 times in the first half of the game without scoring an offensive point. That probably accounts for the huge yardage differential and the score. ULL took advantage of opportunities, while K-State failed to capitalize on their own.
ULL is led by sophomore quarterback Chris Masson and senior running back Undrea Sails. Both had big games against Southern, and I suppose both did just good enough against K-State. After averaging 6.0 yards per carry against Southern, Undrea Sails was held to 3.9 yards per carry on 20 carries against K-State. Masson has been over 50% completion percentage in both of his games so far, though he was also not particularly effective at moving that ball against Kansas State. Like all the QBs LSU has faced so far this year, Masson brings some mobility to the table, though less so than either of the two previous quarterbacks. He has amassed 53 rushing yards and a touchdown on 8 carries, and has not been sacked so far.
ULL runs a reasonably balanced attack. They have passed 61 times this year and run it 68 times. When you consider that a few of Chris Masson's runs were probably improvised scrambles, you can guess they are at about 50-50 in called runs versus called passes.
When ULL passes, they will spread the ball around a good bit. So far, they have hit 10 different receivers, 7 of whom have caught at least 3 passes. They will hit a tight end (Luke Aubrey, 9 catches, 65 yards, 2 touchdowns), a running back (Undrea Sails, 3 catches, including a 56 yard touchdown against Southern), and various wide receivers.
Defensively, they have given up a lot of yards. Southern got 380 yards against them on 70 plays. That comes out to just under 5.5 yards per play. Kansas State got 377 yards on 76 plays, which is about 5.0 yards per play. This tells me two things. First, they will give up yards. Second, those are a lot of offensive plays. Either ULL plays a quick-paced offense or BOTH Southern and K-State do, or all 3. At this early stage in the season, without having seen the Ragin' Cajuns play, it is difficult for me to figure out where it's coming from.
Southern was particularly effective through the air, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt. There were not an obnoxious number of big plays padding that statistic either. Southern had a 51 yard pass play, and other than that the number seems to have been arrived at honestly. Kansas State did not duplicate those passing numbers, but averaged 6.0 yards per attempt and had decent success running the ball as well at 4.3 yards per attempt. And keep in mind that these were in losing efforts.
Alright, the bottom line is that ULL has picked up an easy win against a SWAC team, and beat a bad Big 12 team despite apparently being outplayed. We've said before that the best team doesn't always win in football, and that appears to have happened last week. It doesn't diminish the achievement at all, but it suggests that the achievement is probably not reflective of their ability to play with a team like LSU, who is almost certainly better than Kansas State. Remember, this is a Kansas State team that almost lost to UMass the week before, though to be fair, they outgained UMass by almost 200 yards on the game and were winning 21-3 at halftime. Once again, sometimes the score doesn't reflect the overall flow of the game. Heck, I remember in 2001 LSU played Kentucky and got outgained by a significant margin and won in a blowout in part because Hal Mumme refused to punt.
Anyway, the game is at 6:00pm on ESPNU again. Sadly, the Mississippi State vs. Vandy game is on at the same time. I will have some thoughts on what the new SEC on ESPN deal is doing to the football schedule another day, but it is having some consequences I did not foresee, and they're not all good.