No. 23 Louisiana, Coastal Carolina end up in early showdown
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were supposed to have this weekend off, but the pandemic-induced need for flexibility in scheduling prompted the game to be moved up one week to Saturday.
No. 23 Louisiana was scheduled to play Wednesday at Appalachian State, but that game was postponed on Oct. 1 because the Mountaineers were dealing with a slew of positive COVID-19 tests.
That led to the two unbeaten Sun Belt programs being scheduled to square off this weekend in Lafayette, La.
The move was made to decrease the downtime between contests, a decision that was fine with Ragin’ Cajuns coach Billy Napier.
“I think you’ve got to make the decision with the health and safety of the players in mind,” Napier said. “Outside of that, you have to evaluate, ‘Is it safe to go play a game with these players — you know, this number of players at this position or that position, or overall as a team, are we prepared? Has the quality of our preparation been what it needs to be to go compete and play, and for it to be safe?’
“So, I think there’s lots of contributing factors here. I can only speak on the behalf of our team, that we haven’t had significant issues to a point where we would have to cancel. Not to say that that can’t happen in the future. But at this point in time we’re very fortunate and blessed that we haven’t gotten to that point.”
Louisiana (3-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) last played on Sept. 26 when junior Nate Snyder kicked a last-second 53-yard field goal to defeat visiting Georgia Southern, 20-18. This marks the school’s first 3-0 start since 1988.
The Ragin’ Cajuns’ best victory is a 31-14 road triumph over Iowa State, a win that feels even more impressive after Oklahoma lost on the Cyclones’ field last Saturday for the first time in 60 years.
Senior quarterback Levi Lewis has passed for 723 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Lewis is 265 yards away from becoming the sixth player in school history to reach 5,000 passing yards.
Lewis ranks fourth with 39 touchdowns. The school record-holder is former NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme, who tossed 64 scoring passes from 1993-96, according to the school.
Coastal Carolina (3-0, 1-0) is off to its best start in its four seasons at the FBS level.
The Chanticleers began their season with a 38-23 road win over Kansas. More recently, they drubbed Arkansas State 52-23 last Saturday to increase their scoring average to 44.3 points per game.
“There’s a lot of excitement. We’re hot right now,” senior running back CJ Marable said. “The only thing is we have to keep it a game at a time. Don’t make it bigger than what it is. Just go out there and play Coastal football.”
Marable paces the rushing game with 190 yards, while redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall energizes both facets of the offense. McCall has passed for 728 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception, while adding 139 yards and two scores on the ground.
The teams have split two previous meetings, but last season’s game was no contest: The Ragin’ Cajuns rolled to a 48-7 road win.
“We just came out there flat,” Marable recalled. “We can’t do that this year. They’re a good team, so we have to come out there with the same energy we have in the past three games.”
–Field Level Media