Mark Hudspeth and UL-Lafayette will look to do something Saturday no team has done in school history — beat Appalachian State.
Of course, the Ragin' Cajuns and Mountaineers didn't meet on a football field until 2014. But a win Saturday would go a long way for the Cajuns, for a number of reasons. First, they'd be bowl-eligible.
If the Cajuns are to upset the Mountaineers, who themselves are playing for a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship, it is likely that running back Trey Ragas will play a large role.
Ragas, a redshirt freshman from New Orleans, leads the Cajuns in rushing yards and touchdowns. With his powerful frame and bruising rushing style, Ragas has put himself in position to take home the league's Freshman of the Year award at season’s end.
In 10 games, Ragas has rushed for 799 yards on 136 carries. His 5.9-yard average leads all Sun Belt running backs, and he and is the only freshman among the league’s top 10 backs.
If Ragas is indeed named Freshman of the Year, he would not only be the third Cajun in the Hudspeth era to win the award, joining fellow tailbacks Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris.
“That's pretty special," Hudspeth said Tuesday, "and he's in that same mode.”
Harris was named Freshman of the Year in 2011, Hudspeth’s first season at UL-Lafayette. McGuire won the award two years later in 2013.
Ragas said he thinks winning the award would be special, but he’s not focused on that just yet.
“This is a big game (Saturday). It’s like a championship game for us,” Ragas said. “We've got to win this game to go to a bowl. That's the main goal right now.”
Doing that, Ragas noted, would give the Cajuns' senior class one more game. That, he said, is important to him.
“They've been there since Day 1, showing us the way of Cajun football, the way of life," he said.
Winning at Appalachian State will be no easy task.
The Mountaineers rank third in the Sun Belt in rushing defense, allowing 145.9 yards per game. App State uses an odd-man front and a lot of movement on the defensive line, but Ragas believes that movement creates cutback opportunities that come with big-play potential.
If indeed those cutback lanes are there, Ragas and his fellow backs will have to take full advantage.