1. YOUTH MOVEMENT Coach Mark Hudspeth is sacrificing experience for an increase in athleticism on the field Saturday, keeping seniors Trevence Patt and Sean Thomas on the bench at the start of the game in favor of redshirt freshman Tracy Walker and true freshman Travis Crawford. Patt and Thomas will both play, and both are dealing with injuries that haven’t quite healed the way they’d hoped, but it appears the Cajuns are accelerating the future’s arrival. Crawford played in his first collegiate game a little less than a month ago, and Walker has only been getting regular playing time for a couple weeks.
2. TEST NO. 2 This is the second week in a row the Cajuns will go up against the Sun Belt Conference’s top scoring defense. That didn’t work out too well for Arkansas State last week, who came in allowing just more than 20 points per game before the Cajuns blitzed them for 55 on Tuesday night. Hudspeth has praised the South Alabama defense all week as one of the better defenses the Cajuns will see this season, but it needs to prove itself against better competition. The Jags have ripped off four straight wins, but they’ve done it against teams that have a combined 5-25 record.
3. RUNNING WILD Both teams have quarterbacks that have garnered some headlines in their day, but if you’re looking for a common thread between the teams as to why they’ve been successful in the last several weeks, look no further than the running game. The Jaguars have run for at least 230 yards in each of their last four games, all of them wins. The Cajuns have run for at least 195 in their last three games, including last week’s monster effort when they ran for 419 yards and eight scores. Both teams rank in the top 20 nationally in rushing offense against conference opponents.
4. PAYBACK Hudspeth tried to tell local media that last year’s meeting between the Cajuns and the Jaguars wouldn’t “be a part of the mental process” as his team prepared for this week’s game. It was a nice try, but the players didn’t hide their true feelings. They remember losing 30-8 to South Alabama to finish the regular season at 8-4 last year. It cost the team an outright SBC title and a shot at the first double-digit win total in school history. Don’t think for a second they wouldn’t savor a chance at getting a little retribution for all those goals that went by the wayside in Mobile last year.