Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football vs. Appalachian State: Scouting report, score prediction
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns have reeled off four straight wins since losing its opener at Texas.
The Mountaineers have won three straight since losing 25-23 on Sept. 11 at No. 22 Miami. They beat FCS member Elon 44-10, Marshall 31-30 and, in their Sun Belt opener Oct. 2, Georgia State 45-16.
The teams will meet for the sixth time in four seasons.
App State’s passing
The Mountaineers have paired Clemson transfer quarterback Chase Brice with a veteran group of familiar receivers, led by the speedy Corey Sutton (32 receptions, 473 yards, three touchdown), sure-handed Thomas Hennigan (23 rec., 326 yards), slot men Malik Williams (21 rec., 304 yards) and Christian Wells (5 rec., 114 yards), and Jalen Virgil (6 rec., 66 yards).
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Brice, 104-for-153 passing, 1,360 yards, eight TDs, three interceptions this season, threw for 2,170 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 starts at Duke last season. He spent two seasons backing up Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. A pro-style QB, he’s not nearly as mobile as predecessor Zac Thomas.
Mountaineer running backs
It’s not just App State’s pass game that will test an erratic Cajun defense.
UL has held opponents to fewer than 25 points in its last four games, but it also ranks 92nd in total defense with 410.8 yards allowed per game, including 174.8 yards rushing.
Appalachian State's Nate Noel averages 102.2 rushing yards and 6.4 yards per carry, and Camerun Peoples averages 88.3 yards and 5.3 per carry.
The Cajuns used their off week to address problematic kicking.
With starter Kenneth Almendares out for the season with a hip injury, Nate Snyder missed both field goal attempts – from 43 and 42 yards – and went 1-for-3 PATs in a 20-18 win at South Alabama on Oct. 2.
The Cajuns like the play of new snapper Bobby Hill and experienced holder Dalen Cambre, but they’ve had Snyder and inexperienced walk-on Logan Klotz battle for the starting job. The two were listed as co-starters on the depth chart released Sunday night. UL coach Billy Napier said his decision on who starts could happen pregame or even in-game. It may be situational depending on distance since Snyder has a strong leg but short-range consistency issues.
The snap trap
Snapping will be critical too, especially considering how former UL snapper Paul Boudreaux somehow sailed three snaps over the head of punter Rhys Byrns in monsoon-like conditions during a win over the Mountaineers last season.
A high snap from Hill caused one of Snyder’s missed field goal attempts on a rainy night at South Alabama, so cleaning that up is imperative for the Cajuns.
Lewis has been intercepted just once in 150 attempts this season and is completing 62.67% of his passes, but his 138.1 pass efficiency rating is his lowest in three years starting.
Passing accuracy will be particularly important for Lewis against Appalachian State, which already has five interceptions this season.
Appalachian State 26, UL 24: UL is 14-3 at Cajun Field under Napier, including a loss to App State in 2019 and two losses to Coastal Carolina. So the Cajuns shouldn’t be considered automatic favorites at home, especially when playing the Sun Belt’s East Division elite.