UL-L faces tough road test for first game of the year
The University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns will face one of their toughest road tests in recent memory this Saturday when they travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the No. 23 Iowa State Cyclones in a non-conference battle. Game time for the Cajuns and Cyclones is set for 11 a.m. and will be carried by ESPN.
Iowa State is coming off of a 7-6 season and a trip to the Camping World Bowl this past December. The Cyclones return 10 players on defense and 10 players on offense with at least five starts in their careers, including quarterback Brock Purdy.
Purdy, a second team All-Big 12 selection, started all 13 games for Iowa State last season. The junior signal caller set 18 school records in 2019, including passing yardage (3,982), passing touchdowns (27), completions (312), total offense (4,231) and 300-yard passing games (6).
Purdy also ran the ball for 249 yards and his eight rushing touchdowns was second on the team and tied for the fifth-most by a Cyclone quarterback. Along with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, Purdy was one of two FBS quarterbacks with over 3,900 passing yards, at least 35 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions.
Along with Purdy, the Cyclones return leading rusher Breece Hall. The sophomore tailback carried the ball 186 times for 897 yards while earning First-Team True Freshman All-American by 247Sports last season.
Third team All-Big 12 wide receiver Tarique Milton was the second leading receiver for the Cyclones in 2019. Milton caught 35 passes for 722 yards and three touchdowns.
One of the biggest weapons for Purdy is returning junior redshirt tight end Charley Kolar. The 6’6’ 257 pound tight end hauled in 51 passes for 697 yards and seven touchdowns, earning him first team All-Big 12 honors.
Defensively, Iowa State surrendered 25.8 points per game in 2019 and an average of 139.5 yards per game on the ground. The Cyclones gave up 21 touchdowns in 37 red zone appearances by their opponents.
The top tackler for the Cyclones in 2019, Lawrence White returns for his senior season. White recorded 84 tackles and four interceptions as an Honorable Mention Big 12 selection.
The linebacking corps is led by Jake Hummel. The First-Team Academic All-Big 12 player enters senior season with 71 tackles, 8.0 TFL and one interception in his career.
Upsetting Iowa State would be a huge feather in the cap of the Ragin’ Cajuns. UL-L comes in the game after a stellar 11-3 season and a Lending Tree Bowl championship one year ago.
The biggest key for the Ragin’ Cajuns will be their dominating running game. In 2019, UL-L rushed for over 3,600 yards. Leading the way for the Ragin’ Cajuns will be returnees Elijah Mitchell (1,147 yards) and Trey Ragas (820 yards).
If UL-L can control the football, sustain long drives and make the Iowa State offense drive the length of the field to score, the Cajuns will definitely have a chance at stunning the Big 12 team. The Cyclones will score; their offense is just that good.
But, UL-L has the talent and opportunity to make some waves in college football. The Cajuns are led by one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the FCS, Levi Lewis. The steady senior threw for 3,050 yards and only four interceptions in 2019.
UL-L has a ton of confidence coming into the season and it shows when talking to some of the players about the possibility of going undefeated.
“We’re gonna give them boys a good game. We’re gonna come out with a win,” running back Chris Smith said when asked about taking on Iowa State.
However, Lewis toned down the rhetoric with his statement about heading into each and every week.
“So it really doesn’t matter what everybody’s saying on the outside. It’s all about ‘Are we a close-knit group?’ and ‘Are we together?’ and just knowing that we’ve got the same goal. Everybody knowing what we’re working for. That’s really all that matters – trying to go 1-0 every week.”