1. Open it up
Last week, the Ragin’ Cajuns got by on being the physically superior team. That may still be the case this weekend, but the Cajuns aren’t going to limit themselves to simply pushing the Bulldogs around. Coach Mark Hudspeth promised a more diverse offensive (and defensive) game plan this week, and that should mean more opportunities for his offensive skill players to shine. One thing to watch out for this week: running backs Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire on the field at the same time. Nobody confirmed that, but it could create all sorts of matchup problems for a defense.
2. Control the ground game
Speaking of McGuire and Harris, they figure to play a larger role this week after combining for 176 yards on 27 carries against Southern. With the Bulldogs bringing in talented junior running back Kenneth Dixon, who has accumulated 34 touchdowns in just 23 collegiate games, look for the Cajuns to control the game with their own pair of talented runners. This is less about holding on to the ball than it is about keeping the Bulldogs and Dixon from establishing a rhythm. Cajuns defenders also said they spent a large chunk of the week practicing their run defense, a big change after getting ready for Southern’s pass-first attack last week.
3. Win the other stuff
The Cajuns got away with losing the turnover battle to Southern last week, but that’s not a very good recipe for success. While the Bulldogs struggled last season, they proved adept at forcing turnovers, with 18 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries in 12 games. They return most of their starting secondary from a year ago, as well. But not everything needs work. The Cajuns also converted 50 percent of their third down attempts last week, while holding the Jaguars to just 37 percent. The key, obviously, is to win the game on the score board. But winning the other stuff helps take care of that.
4. Brush up on history
Hudspeth has made it a priority to educate his players this week about how much this game means to people in the area. Although the two schools have a long history together, playing 85 games in a series that dates back to 2010, they haven’t met since 2004. The Bulldogs have owned the Cajuns in recent history, winning six straight contests by an average of 31.8 points. The last time the Cajuns beat Tech was in 1996 in Ruston, capping off four straight Ragin’ Cajun victories — all of which came with Jake Delhomme under center. Maybe a history lesson will make for an inspired performance.