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UL's defensive coordinator Patrick Toney, shown here talking with linebacker Joe Dillon in practice recently, has already made a big impression on his defense heading into Saturday's season opener at Iowa State.

INSIDE THE GAME

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The No. 21-ranked Cajuns are hoping to improved to 4-0 overall for the first time since 1988 and 3-0 in Sun Belt play for the first time since 2014. Coastal Carolina, meanwhile, is trying for its first win over a Top 25 team ever, and improve to 2-0 in Sun Belt play for the first time ever.

KEY MATCHUP

UL linebackers vs. Coastal’s offense. Against a playmaking quarterback, a dual-threat running back and a very productive tight end, the Cajuns’ linebacking corps – bolstered by the returning of numerous starters – figures to be tested heavily Wednesday.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CAJUNS: UL’s safety tandem of Percy Butler and Bralen Trahan have been very productive. Butler has 13 tackles, five breakups and two fumble recoveries, while Trahan has 17 tackles, two breakups and an interception.

COASTAL: Redshirt freshman Grayson McCall has been a two-way threat with 728 yards passing with nine TDs and one interception, as well as 139 yards rushing with two scores.

FACTS & FIGURES

Coastal Carolina’s defense has collected 13 sacks so far this season, sixth nationally … Cajuns’ QB Levi Lewis needs just 23 yards passing to pass up Chris Masson into No. 6 on school’s all-time passing yards list and two more TD passes to fly past Roy Henry into No. 3 on career TD passes list … UL linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill’s 36 tackles are tied for seventh most nationally … the Chanticleers are 4-5 all-time in non-Saturday games … Coastal’s offense was second nationally in fourth-down conversions (23-29) and is 2-for-2 so far this season … UL linebacker Joe Dillon is expected to play for the first time since the season opener, still just two sacks shy of becoming the program’s all-time sack king (21, Jeff Mitchell, Christian Ringo) … Coastal’s offensive line has only allowed one sack in three games, which ranks it third nationally.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

4 – National ranking of Coastal’s offense in third-down conversion (59.5), team passing efficiency (204.46) and scoring offense (44.3).

14 – The Chanticleers’ offense is a perfect 14-for-14 in red zone scoring this season with 13 touchdowns, ranking it tied for first nationally with 11 other teams.

21 – UL’s national ranking in both Top 25 polls, leaving the Cajuns as the only Louisiana program currently in either poll.

FOUR DOWNS

1 – Time of possession

Coastal Carolina held the ball for over 30 minutes in the win over Kansas and for 41 minutes vs. Arkansas State. UL offense is averaging 27:26 so far this season.

2 – Tight ends again

It seems like UL’s defense must contain a play-making tight end every week. This time, Isaiah Likely has 7 catches for 215 yards and 3 TDs so far.

3 – What’s going to give?

Coastal’s offense is averaging 44.3 points – No. 4 nationally – while UL’s defense is only allowing 21 points a game – No. 17 nationally.

4 – Running backs

Few matchups will provide more accomplished backs. Coastal’s CJ Marable has 3,032 career yards, while UL’s Trey Ragas (2,957) and Elijah Mitchell (2,599) aren’t far off.

SCHEDULES

COASTAL CAROLINA (3-0)

Sept. 12 At Kansas, W 38-23

Sept. 18 Campbell, W 43-21

Oct. 3 Arkansas State W 52-23

Oct. 14 At Louisiana, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 24 Georgia Southern, TBA

Oct. 31 At Georgia State, TBA

Nov. 7 South Alabama, TBA

Nov. 14 At Troy, 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 21 Appalachian State, TBA

Nov. 28 At Texas State, TBA

Dec. 5 Liberty, TBA

UL (3-0)

Sept. 12 At Iowa State, W 31-14

Sept. 19 At Georgia State, W 34-31 (OT)

Sept. 26 Georgia Southern, W 20-18

Oct. 14 Coastal Carolina, TBA

Oct. 23 At UAB, 7 p.m.

Oct. 31 At Texas State, TBA

Nov. 7 Arkansas State, TBA

Nov. 14 South Alabama, TBA

Nov. 21 Central Arkansas, TBA

Nov. 28 At ULM, TBA

Dec. 3-4, At Appalachian State, TBA

THE ADVOCATE SAYS …

UL 34, Coastal Carolina 27

The Chanticleers come in with huge offensive numbers at 44.3 points per game. The Cajuns, though, are getting a ton of defensive mainstays back and are only allowing 21 points per game without them. UL hasn’t played since Sept. 26, so the question is, will the Cajuns’ offense be rusty or rested? The running back corps should be healthier. UL's win over Georgia Southern was the first home winner in that short series. Time for first time in this three-game series as well.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.