Cajuns' slot receiver Riles ready for impact

Tim Buckley

Al Riles had four catches for 30 yards in his first three games this season at slot receiver, a new position for the former defensive back and outside linebacker.

But he had three grabs for 29 yards in UL's most-recent outing, a 34-9 loss at Boise State two Saturdays ago.

UL coach Mark Hudspeth talked afterward about needing to get Riles going forward, and the Lakeshore High product is happy he did.

"I think I'm getting there," Riles said. "I think there's still more work, (but) I feel like now I'm gonna get more opportunities.

"I'm getting that trust from my quarterback, from the coaches. So I think we're finally getting into synch with that, and we're finally getting comfortable. But there's definitely more work to be done."

Riles didn't have any catches in UL's season opener, a win over Southern.

He almost lost his starting role after that outing, but managed to hang onto it.

Now, as the 1-3 Cajuns prepare to open Sun Belt Conference play Saturday night at home against Georgia State, he's proving just how worthy of the job he is.

"Week 1 was tough," Riles said. "I didn't get too many opportunities. But we had a pretty good game; I did a lot of good blocking for my other teammates.

"It's all about opportunities," he added. "So now that we're building that trust, hopefully I get more opportunities."

CROWD EXPECTATIONS: Hudspeth has high hopes for Saturday night, where the Cajuns are averaging 30,888 in two games this season – 36,170 for their season-opener vs. Southern, but 25,606 one week later for a loss to Louisiana Tech.

"I expect a full house," the Cajun coach said. "I don't think we would have anything less. Our fans are gonna be there, because they're just as hungry as we are."

One thing in UL's favor this weekend: anticipated favorable weather, unlike those first two games.

One thing that's not: The Cajuns' 1-3 record, which Hudspeth seemingly thinks could produce a somewhat tough crowd.

"Anytime you're faced with adversity," he said, "a lot of times you want to circle the wagons, because everybody's counting you out.

"Half the people are gonna show up to see us do good, and half the people are gonna show up to see if we're not any better."

SATURDAY RARITY: With Tuesday night games Oct. 14 at Texas State and Oct. 21 at home against Arkansas State followed by a Nov. 1 game against South Alabama at Cajun Field, Saturday's meeting with Georgia State will be UL's only Saturday game this month.

The Cajuns also had just one Saturday game in October both last season and in 2012.

The last time they had more than one Saturday game in October was in 2011 – when they had five, including an Oct. 1 over Florida Atlantic and an Oct. 29 win at Middle Tennessee.

HE SAID IT: Hudspeth, on his 1-3 Cajuns: "They've got a little chip on their shoulder again, which is great. I wish they could have got (it about a month ago), and we might not be here at this moment. But, nevertheless, I think they're anxious to show they're better."

LAGNIAPPE: With an average of just 26.5 lost yards per game, UL is the least-penalized team in the Sun Belt. The Cajuns' 3.75 penalties per game is fourth-fewest in the nation. Georgia State, meanwhile, loses an average of 61.2 yards per game to penalties. … Drew Fellios and Forrest Conoly, an offensive tackle on Florida State's 1993 national-title team, will call Saturday's game online for ESPN3. … Ex-Cajun kicker Stephen Brauchle, who was beaten out by Hunter Stover for a starting job and left UL shortly before the start of the season, is now on Southern Mississippi's roster.