4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LOUISIANA DEFENSE
– The defense just needs to hold serve and let the offense take care of the rest. It struggled too much against the run – allowing 219 yards per game – and didn’t come up with enough big plays in the secondary. There’s just enough gone to be annoying – three of the top five tacklers are done – and more pass rushers have to emerge.
– Three starters return up front, needing senior Bennie Higgins and junior Chauncey Manac do more after combining for eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss. They’re the pass rushers up front – with Manac really a linebacker and not a true defensive end – and there’s experienced bulk in 285-pound senior Tra’Vontae Booker and 283-pound sophomore Zi’Yon Hill for the inside.
– Leading tackler Jaques Boudreaux is back at middle linebacker after coming up with 93 tackles, and he’s got the veteran around him to fly around and start doing more – the linebackers other than Manac have to do more to get behind the line. This isn’t a big group, but around 315-pound all-star guard Kevin Dotson, it can move, and it has to hold up against the better pass rushing defenses.
– There have to be more picks. The Ragin’ Cajuns generated just eight interceptions on the year, with sophomore Eric Garror pushing for more time at one corner job after tying for the team-lead with two interceptions on the other side of Michael Jacquet … maybe. The 6-2, 200-pound Jacquet is better suited to safety, but there’s a bit of talent returning starting with Deuce Wallace at free safety.