Arkansas State Red Wolves vs Troy Trojans: Beef’n
Red Wolves and Cajuns have beef, will fisticuff.
Arkansas State and
ULL UL-Lafayette Louisiana have bruised their knuckles on each other since the 1960s. The love lost? Zero. Mercy granted? None. “They don’t like us, and we don’t like them,” stated Coach Blake Anderson at Monday’s Red Wolves presser. I can confirm the validity of this statement.
Thursday night’s game – aired live from Jonesboro on ESPNU – is the 45th meeting, but the most important one is always the last. In 2018, the Cajuns survived a defenseless donnybrook 47-43, largely on the strength of of the Cajuns running game – one TD apiece from Trey Ragas, Elijah Mitchell and Raymond Calais. The Cajun Troika accounted for 234 yards on the ground, and they’re back more more this season.
Quarterback Logan Bonner’s thumb was the marquis season injury for the Red Wolves, but the defense is far worse for wear, seeing season-ending injuries to Forrest Merrill, Jerry Jacobs and most recently, Hunter Moreton and Tony Adams. The result is pretty clear: Georgia State put up 700+ yards, 340 yards on the ground.
The Louisiana ground game, which ranks 6th in the nation, is far more dangerous than the Panthers’. Look for Billy Napier to poke the soft middle of the defensive line early and often.
Help is on the way
Injuries have damaged the Red Wolves on both sides of the ball, but some key players are returning to the field. Starting running back Marcel Murray is expected to be 100% back from an ankle injury, and starting defensive lineman Kevin Thurmon will wrap up his broken hand and give it a go. Also back, DB Darreon Jackson returns from “personal business.” Offensive lineman Jacob Still is also good to go.
Cajuns are multi-dangerous now
Last season, Louisiana was all O and no D. This season, the Cajuns are allowing a stingy 20 points per game – best in the Belt. (Meanwhile, the Red Wolves are surrendering 38.7, a conference worst.) The defense has been especially effective at limiting the pass, another test for the Red Wolves. The newly balanced Cajuns are more dangerous than last year’s version.
Make Omar a Heisman candidate, you cowards!
Leading the nation in receiving yards and tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns, Omar Bayless was recently added to the AP Midseason All-America Team, but has yet to legitimately crack the Heisman discussion. A great showing this Thursday night on ESPNU could prove useful in that regard.
The injuries accrued by the Red Wolves pose a serious and grim threat to the season. That’s just the facts, buddy. Meanwhile, the Cajuns are on an upward trajectory, with all aspects of the game humming smoothly, despite the hard loss to Appalachian State last week. Arkansas State managed enough muscle to beat a reduced Troy. Is it realistic to expect the same against the surging Cajuns? Bayless makes all things possible.
Louisiana Ragin’Cajuns @ Arkansas State Red Wolves, Thursday, 6:30PM on ESPNU
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.