Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Mark Hudspeth era of Ragin' Cajun football
continued to shine in 2012, as the team finished 9-4 overall, and at 6-2 in
league play, it was just one win from capturing its first-ever Sun Belt
Louisiana's season started out rather modestly, going 5-4 through the first
nine contests. In a high-profile matchup at No. 7 Florida on Nov. 10, the
Cajuns were in the midst of pulling off the biggest upset in program history
when they were up 20-13 with under two minutes to play, but the Gators scored
a pair of touchdowns down the stretch, including the game-winner off a blocked
punt in the waning seconds, to deliver the crushing blow.
From there, however, Louisiana caught fire, winning its final three regular
season games over Western Kentucky (31-27), South Alabama (52-30) and Florida
Atlantic (35-21). For the second consecutive year, it accepted a bid to and
won the New Orleans bowl, taking down East Carolina in a 43-34 final.
OFFENSE: Louisiana had one of the Sun Belt's top offenses a year ago, putting
up 34.8 ppg and 443.6 ypg, and there's plenty of room for optimism in 2013 as
the unit returns eight starters, including perhaps the most dynamic
quarterback in the league.
Terrance Broadway began the 2012 season second on the depth chart, but after a
late-September injury sidelined Blaine Gautier for several weeks, Broadway
stepped up in a big way. Not only is he an outstanding passer (.654 completion
percentage, 2,842 yards, 17 TDs, nine interceptions), but he is a game-changer
out of the pocket as well, adding 769 yards and nine more scores on the
Broadway was named to the watch list for the 2013 Davey O'Brien Award for the
nation's top quarterback, but he still knows that he needs to put together a
quality season to merit the honor.
"Although preseason recognition is nice, it has no effect on the season,"
Broadway said. "It doesn't matter where you start, it's where you finish."
Broadway will benefit from having a pair of big-play receiving threats back,
as Jamal Robinson (630 yards, three TDs) and Darryl Surgent (569 yards, three
TDs) both averaged more than 16 yards per reception a year ago.
Adding to the Cajuns' dominant rushing attack will be Alonzo Harris, who
gained 881 yards (5.2 ypc) and scored 10 touchdowns a year ago.
DEFENSE: Like the offense, the defense was ranked near the top of the league
in 2012, allowing 27.6 ppg, but unlike the other side of the ball, it is
difficult to predict the unit's continuity as only three starters return.
Justin Anderson was one of the top linebackers in the conference last season,
piling up 105 tackles, 8.5 TFL, two sacks and an interception, and after
seeing improvement with each passing season, he will eye First Team All-SBC
honors as a senior.
The only returning starter in the front four is Christian Ringo, who despite
making just 29 tackles in 13 games, was a menace behind the line of scrimmage
with 10.5 TFL and seven sacks.
A new-look secondary will include Jevante Watson and Trevence Patt starting at
cornerback, and Will Burrowes and Al-Damion Riles at safety.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Brett Baer acted as both the kicker and punter last season for
the Cajuns, so his departure left two gaping holes on special teams. Sophomore
Stephen Brauchle will take of field goal kicking duties, while Daniel Cadona
fills in as the punter.
Surgent should continue to get plenty of run back opportunities after
accumulating 743 kick return yards in 2012.
OUTLOOK: With Broadway inserted as the starter from the outset and most of his
supporting cast on offense returning, Louisiana carries some pretty high
expectations into 2013. It's tied with ULM atop the Sun Belt preseason poll,
and after accomplishing some impressive feats in recent years, Hudspeth is
ready to take the next step.
"(My) first two years, we felt like we have accomplished some good things,"
Hudspeth said. "Being 10-1 at home in the last two years, winning two straight
bowls against good opponents, finishing both seasons with nine wins. But one
of our top goals, of winning the Sun Belt Conference championship, we have not
An inexperienced defense could present a problem for the Cajuns, but in
conference where most teams sport below-average defensive units, being able to
put up points is the most important thing, and they will have no problem doing
that. If they can avoid the injury bug, a conference championship run and
another bowl berth should be expected.
The Sports Network