Five Keys to Beating Texas State – From the Bird’s Nest
It'll be good to be back home for Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns.
The Sun Belt Conference opener is Saturday against league newcomer Texas State, a team that might be the most pleasant surprise in the Sun Belt this year.
Last year, in their first year in the FBS, Texas State (if you have to abbreviate it's TxSt., not TSU) went just 4-8 and were picked to finish sixth in the league. But the Bobcats have opened 3-1 with wins over Conference USA (at Southern Mississippi) and the Mountain West (Wyoming). It's very possible this team will be bowl eligible this season and not many expected that.
The Bobcats will offer the Cajuns a test on Saturday. And, if the Cajuns are going to hold serve at home, here are some things that need to happen.
1. PLAY BIG BOY FOOTBALL--And that means get the running game going. The Cajuns need to have success running between the tackles and that means the line and the tight ends need to put on their big boy pants against a Texas State team that's allowing just 62 yards per game on the ground. And, while their opponents so far this season have been primarily throwing teams, the fact remains they give up just 2.3 per carry. A steady diet of Mr. Harris is called for. The Cajuns have to make sure he's productive.
2. HERE'S TO YOU, MR. ROBINSON - Cajuns WR Jamal Robinson was simply better than anyone trying to cover him in the game at Akron two weeks ago. His performance after a somewhat shaky start should give him plenty of confidence heading into this game. If the Cajuns have success running it, Robinson could have a big day when the Cajuns decide to throw, because, once again, he's better than anyone covering him. If they double team, the other receivers need to step up.
3. MAKE THE FRESHMAN UNCOMFORTABLE - Freshman Tyler Jones got his first start last week and performed more than admirably against Wyoming. That was at home. The Cajuns defense needs to take him out of his comfort zone early and then let the Cajun Field crowd do its thing. Jones is a duel threat guy. The Cajuns need to take one of his weapons away...the arm or the feet...doesn't matter. Don't let him do both. In other words, with apologies to Counting Crows..don't let Mr. Jones be a big star.
4. WIN THE BATTLE - The Cajuns have Robinson. The Bobcats have Isaiah Battle. He was touted preseason as one of the league's better receivers, and, just like Robinson, Battle's team is confident he can have a good game. Regardless of how the Cajuns play in the secondary, whether it be zone or man, you have to know where that guys is at all times and do NOT let him get behind you.
5. PROTECT THE FOOTBALL--Texas State has had success turning their opponents over, averaging nearly three takeaways per game. While turnover margin is always important, it's very questionable whether the Bobcats can come out on top if the Cajuns don't hand the football over...especially in Cajuns' territory.