Why Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns have plenty to clean up before facing Ohio

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

With a quick turnaround before facing Ohio of the MAC on Thursday night at Cajun Field, UL has much to clean up.

That much is evident after the Ragin’ Cajuns escaped Saturday night’s meeting with Nicholls with a 27-24 victory over the FCS opponent from the Southland Conference.

“I think it’s a good thing when you go in the locker room after a game and you won the game,” coach Billy Napier, “but the players understand the standards and the expectations, and they know that they can do things better.

“I think that’s what we have in our locker room right now. We have a group that’s having a hard time celebrating winning a game. It’s tough to believe, but I think it’s a good indication.”

Napier was less than enamored with an offense that produced just 113 rushing yards.

“We’ve got a ways to go in terms of creating a run game and certainly in protection we had issues tonight,” he said.

“A lot of that is us, but a lot of that Nicholls doing things the right way.”

TOUGH TIMES:Kyren Lacy finds solace in football after Ida devastates Thibodaux

ON A NAPKIN:How the Ragin' Cajuns landed $15 million stadium naming rights deal

Lindsey Scott was 'a magician'

Nicholls compiled 511 yards of total offense as UL, for a second straight week, struggled to contain a mobile quarterback who was productive both through the air and on the ground.

In the Cajuns’ season-opening 28-18 loss at Texas, Hudson Card threw for 224 and two touchdowns while extending play after play from the pocket.

On Saturday, former LSU redshirt and Missouri scout team quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. was 26-of-37 passing for a career-high 359 yards and three touchdowns passing. Scott also ran 18 times for 121 yards, giving him a career-high 440 yards of total offense.

Napier called Scott “a magician.”

“The guy’s dynamic,” he said. “I’m glad we don’t have to play him again, I can promise you that. He made it very hard on us.”

Fourteen of Scott’s completions went to Dai’Jean Dixon, who had a career-high 198 receiving yards and two TDs as a single receiver – last time it was Texas’ Jordan Whittington – had his way with a porous UL secondary.

“In those situations,” linebacker Kris Moncrief said, “we beat ourselves.”

UL bright spots

But there were some bright spots for the Cajuns.

Inside linebacker Jourdan Quibodeaux, filling in for the injured Ferrod Gardner, had nine total tackles.

Moncrief, also getting more playing time with Gardner out, had a critical 67-yard interception returned for a touchdown with UL still leading by seven points in the last minute of the third quarter.

Levi Lewis looked a little sharper than a week ago while going 19-of-33 for 304 yards and two touchdowns passing.

“I thought No. 1 was on point,” Napier said.

“I thought the receiver group did a great job getting open and getting separation.”

Michael Jefferson, John Stephens Jr. and Kyren Lacy had three catches apiece.

Both made key catches as Lewis threw over the top, giving the Cajuns a new dimension they largely lacked last season.

Michael Jefferson II hauls in a pass for UL during the Ragin' Cajuns' win over Nicholls on Saturday at Cajun Field.

“We hit a couple and we missed a couple,” Stephens said.

“It will be a big difference if we can hit those.”

Jefferson had 84 receiving yards and a touchdown, and Stephens 46 with a touchdown.

“I love playing with those guys,” said Lacy, a sophomore who starts ahead of TCU transfer Stephens and Alabama State transfer Jefferson at the same receiver spot.

“Those guys are real veterans. … They probably think I’m an old guy, but I’m a young guy and I look up to them.”

Lacy said the 6-foot-3 Stephens is a long, physical receiver who brings energy and made a name him for himself in preseason camp winning 1-on-1s.

“MJ (Jefferson), he can do it,” Lacy added. “He’s a magnet to the ball.

“I read those guys, and I watch film on those guys to see what they’re doing so I can see what I can do to get better.”