With just five games remaining and UL-Lafayette's bowl fate hanging in the balance, the Ragin' Cajuns will look to get back on track and build momentum Saturday at South Alabama.
Despite their recent struggles — the Cajuns' open date followed a 47-3 loss at Arkansas State on Oct. 19 — they can climb to 4-4 overall with a win at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, putting themselves in the hunt for a sixth bowl appearance in Mark Hudspeth’s seventh season.
“It will be a big challenge for us to move forward and go over there and try to get back to .500,” Hudspeth said, “which would be a huge plus, considering we would still have four games left to play.”
Hudspeth said he's still encouraged by what he sees from his team and that, after a 16-day break between games, the Cajuns can play their best football down the stretch.
“I think they know the opportunities are still there and they just want to go out and show that they are a much better team than what we showed this past week,” Hudspeth said.
South Alabama is coming off a defeat in there last outing, having lost 21-13 at Georgia State on Oct. 26.
Like the Cajuns, USA has struggled with inconsistent play at the quarterback position, forcing Jaguars coach Joey Jones to flip-flop between Cole Garvin and Dallas Davis.
Garvin, a junior transfer from Marshall, beat out Davis in preseason camp and the started the first two games. But an injury against Oklahoma State on Sept. 8 forced Garvin to miss the next two games. He returned and started South Alabama’s 19-8 win over Troy on Oct. 11 but was pulled in favor of Davis in the second quarter.
Davis finished the Troy game 7-of-10 passing for 120-yards and a touchdown. Davis has since started the past two games — a 33-23 victory against ULM and last week’s loss at Georgia State.
Davis is expected to get the nod against the Cajuns on Saturday.
South Alabama is hoping for an improved run game, which has struggled recently, rushing for just 41 yard in the Georgia State loss.
“We've got some scheme things,” Jones said during this week's Sun Belt teleconference. “We've got to make sure that we have a chance to run the football. We've got to get that part going.”
While the Cajuns are slowing working in LB Chaiziere Malbrue, DB Levarious Varnado, WR Ryheem Malone, and QB Andre Nunez — all of whom left the Arkansas State game with injuries — right tackle D’Aquin Winthrow is back and expected to play Saturday. Winthrow started against Arkansas State but missed most of that game with a back injury.
The Cajuns may also get safety Denarius Howard back for Saturday’s game. Howard has missed four games with a hamstring injury.
Hudspeth was less optimistic about senior DB Travis Crawford returning this season but hopeful that the NCAA would grant Crawford another year of eligibility if he doesn't return.
“Travis Crawford's almost to the point now where he can get this year back," Hudspeth said. “I've visited with him about the possibility, if he's not able to come back here within a week or two, he would have an opportunity to return next year.”