Thursday Night Football Preview (GS @ ULL)
Georgia Southern @ Louisiana (-3.5) O/U 58.5 (per SportsChatPlace)
City: Lafayette, Lousiana
Coach: Michael Desormeaux (4-5, 1st Season)
Mascot: Ragin' Cajuns
Stadium: Cajun Field
After Coach Billy Napier left Louisiana at the end of last season for the head coaching job at the University of Florida, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Michael Desormeaux took over for the Ragin' Cajuns. He led Louisiana to a New Orleans Bowl victory as the interim head coach and has started the 2022 season with a 4-5 record. Louisiana has a pretty strong scoring defense that only surrenders just over 21 points per game. Offensively, the team is averaging 230 passing yards and 1300 rushing yards in route to 25.5 points per game. It will be interesting to see how the Ragin' Cajuns fare against one of the worst statistical defensive units in the country on a short week.
Offensively, Louisiana averages 130 rushing yards, 230 passing yards, and 25.5 points per game. QB Ben Wooldridge has played in all nine games this season and accumulated 1,468 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season. After showing up to the post game press conference last weekend a little banged up, he is listed as QB1 on the depth chart heading into the Georgia Southern contest. In the run game, RB Chris Smith and RB Terrence Williams lead the way as they have accumulated nearly 700 yards and three touchdowns between the two. Smith averages nearly 5.5 yard a carry, so it will be extremely important for Georgia Southern to wrap up and make tackles. By far the biggest threat as a receiver is WR Michael Jefferson. He has 36 catches for 616 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. The next leading receiver has only 251 yards. The Eagle secondary will want to make someone else beat them and pay close attention to Jefferson.
The undisputed leader of the Ragin' Cajuns defense is hometown hero LB Jourdan Quibodeaux. Through nine games, he has stacked up 74 tackles, 4 TFL, and 1 Sack. In the defensive backfield, S Bralen Trahan leads the way as the second leading tackler on the team while also accumulating 4 interceptions on the season. He plays centerfield extremely well and takes great angles to passes, so QB Kyle Vantrease will need to be weary of him in coverage. The defensive unit is averaging 2.5 sacks per game led by DL Zi'Yon Hill-Green with 6.5 sacks on the year. The offensive line for the Georgia Southern has been one of the best in the country at protecting the quarterback and that will need to be on full display to give QB Kyle Vantrease time to make plays in the passing game.
In the kicking game, the Ragin' Cajun's have struggled mightily this season. K Preston Stafford and K Kenneth Almendares have combined to go just 9-16 this season. P Rhys Byrns has been great this season as he has punted the ball 41 times for a 43.59 average with 6 going over 50 yards. In the punt return game, the Eagles will need to watch out for CB Eric Garror who is extremely dangerous and has two punt returns for touchdowns already this season!
City: Statesboro, Georgia
Coach: Clay Helton (5-4, 1st Year)
Conference: Sun Belt
Stadium: Allen E. Paulson Stadium
In year one of a full scheme shift, the Eagles have done well offensively. On the defensive side, it has been a struggle. In Week 11, Coach Clay Helton leads the Eagles into Lafayette, Louisiana just one win away from bowl eligibility. After a disappointing loss to South Alabama last week, the Eagles will look to rebound in a nationally televised Thursday night game against the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana. In a harsh environment, the defense will need to step up and make some plays to keep us in this thing.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Georgia Southern Eagles continue to be pass heavy as they average 330 yards through the air compared to 149 on the ground. QB Kyle Vantrease is the only quarterback to throw a pass for the Eagles this season. He has completed just shy of 62% of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. In the receiving game, WR Khaleb Hood and WR Derwin Burgess Jr. will need to carry the load as the Eagles lost WR Amare Jones for the season and WR Jeremy Singleton left last weeks game banged up. Look for the Eagles offense to use RB Jalen White and RB Gerald Green early to set the tone and set up some shots downfield. White now has 743 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. The Ragin' Cajun defense is aggressive in getting after the quarterback as shown by their sack numbers, so the offensive line will need to be as good as advertised to keep Vantrease upright.
Defensively, this season has been... an adventure. Georgia Southern has had some highs and a lot of lows. Based on last game, it is easy to see that the defensive line depth is an issue that needs to be addressed with the portal and recruiting, but that cannot be done midseason. We are who we are and we have to continue to give as much effort as possible to win ball games. Freshman DL Da'Shawn Davis was a spark last week as he accumulated 2 sacks in a hurry against the South Alabama Jaguars. Look for the defensive staff to use him more than normal. LB Marques Watoson-Trent and LB Khadry Jackson both played great last week as well. They will need to continue to lead the way for the Eagles to have a chance going forward. Ragin' Cajun RB Chris Smith averages nearly 5.5 yards per carry, so it is imperative for the defensive line to clog gaps and let the second level make plays this week.
On the special teams front, the Georgia Southern have a clear advantage at kicker. K Alex Raynor is 13-15 on the season through the first 9 games. P Anthony Beck II continues to improve week after week as he now has 31 punts for just shy of a 45 yard average. 14 of his punts have ended up inside of the 20-yard line and he has 9 punts of 50 yards or more. In the punt return game, now that WR Amare Jones is out, look for a lot of fair catches.
Georgia Southern, after a disappointing loss to South Alabama goes to Lafayette, Louisiana and beats the Ragin' Cajuns on a short week to gain bowl eligibility.
Eagles - 34
Ragin' Cajuns - 27
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Written by: Logan Colburn