4d21dd77-199f-5d78-bee0-25f4073be37c

UL running back Trey Ragas (9) hasn't been a major force in the Cajuns' rushing game since back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in late September. After a month off, UL's three-headed rushing attack could be back Monday.

1. Reward the head coach

Depending on which rumors you believe, second-year UL coach Billy Napier could have pursued anywhere between one and four Southeastern Conference job openings since the end of the regular season. But the former Alabama assistant coach has been true to his word of staying to finish the job at UL. If this matchup was a mismatch, that would be one thing. But at worse, this is even matchup for the Cajuns, who should reward their coach with his 11th win of the season.

2. Long layoff should help

Especially on defense, the Cajuns looked like a tired team at times in three of the their final four games. Getting virtually a month off since losing to Appalachian State on Dec. 7, a rejuvenated defensive unit should return. When UL arrived in Mobile to play South Alabama on Nov. 16, its defense was allowing only 17.1 points per game. If you take away the 53-3 home win over Troy, the defense has allowed 34 points a game since then.

3. Great senior leadership

While the coaching staff could probably relay a few areas where the Cajuns could use a talent upgrade, it would be difficult to argue with the leadership this team enjoys. From offensive guard Kevin Dotson to wide receiver Jarrod Jackson to linebacker Jacques Boudreaux to safety Deuce Wallace — as well as the quiet leadership of wide receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley — the Cajuns are loaded with captain-worthy leaders. Teams typically lose bowl games because of a lack of focus and/or want-to after a long layoff. You wouldn’t think these seniors would allow that to happen.

4. Three-headed monster back

It’s not that all three of UL’s seasoned running backs hit it big every game. But since Trey Ragas enjoyed a big 131-yard performance against Georgia Southern on Sept. 28, the Cajuns’ offense really hadn’t had its true three-headed running back monster at its disposal. Hampered by an injury, the battering ram Ragas hasn’t approach the 100-yard mark since then and only eclipsed the 30-yard mark twice over the last seven games. With a month’s rest, Ragas should be able to join forces with Elijah Mitchell and Raymond Calais to again ignite UL’s offense as a trio.

5. It’s time

It’s been five years since this program has won a postseason game. The program has done an awful lot over Napier’s first two seasons at the helm, but a loss Monday would leave it 0-4 after the regular season finale — two losses in the Sun Belt title game and two bowl defeats. Add the fact that UL’s bowl opponent — MAC champion Miami of Ohio — has only played in one bowl game since Rickey Bustle coached the Cajuns, UL’s program just appears more ready to win on paper.

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.