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UL quarterback Levi Lewis (1) hands the ball off to running back Chris Smith (21) during the Cajuns' loss to Texas. Smith led UL on the ground with 11 carries for 54 yards.

INSIDE THE GAME

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Cajuns are trying to move to 4-0 in home openers under Billy Napier, while the Colonels are hoping to avoid a five-game losing streak to FBS programs.

KEY MATCHUP

UL defensive line vs. Nicholls QB – One week after Texas quarterback Hudson Card gave UL’s defense problems with his legs, the Cajuns face an even more athletic quarterback in the Colonels’ Lindsey Scott, who averages 240 yards passing and almost 80 rushing in his career.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Cajuns: UL RB Chris Smith had 54 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries last season and came close to breaking another long kickoff return.

Colonels: Senior WR Dai’Jean Dixon is the program’s career leader in receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Cajuns lead the all-time series vs. Nicholls 4-0 with the last game being a 70-7 win in 2013. … UL is 7-4 against nonconference opponents under Billy Napier after the loss to Texas. … Napier is also 4-1 against in-state opponents. … Levi Lewis’ 282 yards passing in last week’s loss was the most by a UL quarterback in a season opener since 2009 and the most against a Power Five foe since Blaine Gautier’s 236 against Oklahoma State in 2012. … Lewis has now thrown a TD pass in 19 straight games. … LB Lorenzo McCaskill’s five tackles at Texas last week gave him six straight games with five or more tackles in non-conference games. … CB A.J. Washington established a career-high with five tackles last week. … The Cajuns only scored twice in four trips to the red zone last week. … Former Acadiana High LB Kevin Moore has led Nicholls in tackles for the past two seasons and had seven more in Week 1. … Under OC Rob Christophel, the Colonels have now eclipsed the 600-yard mark five times. … After the program had lost 18 in a row, former UL assistant Tim Rebowe has accumulated a career mark of 38-31 at Nicholls, including two Southland Conference titles. … Nicholls WR Dai’Jean Dixon had seven catches for 107 yards last week. ... UL LB Ferrod Gardner, WR Errol Rogers and DL Sonny Hazard are out for the game, while WR Jamal Bell, OL King McGowen, OT Carlos Rubio are questionable to play.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

28 – Senior left tackle Ken Marks is scheduled to make his team-best 28th start Saturday.

12 – Penalties were a big problem for Nicholls last week with 12 for 112 yards. UL was flagged five times for 25 yards.

10 – Nicholls wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon has 10 100-yard receiving games in his career, leaving him one shy of Church Point High product Mark Carrier for the most in school history.

FOUR DOWNS

1 – Conversion story

Both teams struggled with conversions in opening losses. UL was 4-of-13 on third down while giving up 10-of-15 to Texas. Nicholls was only 5-of-13 on third down while yielding 9-of-17 to Memphis.

2 – Busy secondary

In last week’s loss to Texas, four of UL’s top six tacklers and five the top seven were defensive backs, led by safety Bralen Trahan with six stops and a pass breakup.

3 – Brothers squaring off

UL wide receiver Jacob Bernard had two catches for 19 yards last week. His brother Zack had a career-high six stops in the loss at Memphis last Saturday.

4 – Familiar faces

In addition to Nicholls head coach Tim Rebowe, the Colonels have six former UL assistants in Rob Christophel, Tommy Rybacki, Marquase Lovings, Sean Murphy, Lionel Stokes and Brian Wallace.

SCHEDULES

NICHOLLS (0-1)

Sept. 4 At Memphis, L 42-17

Sept. 11 at UL, 6 p.m.

Sept. 25 North Alabama, 3 p.m.

Oct. 2 Houston Baptist, 3 p.m.

Oct. 9 Southeastern, Noon

Oct. 16 At Incarnate Word, 11 a.m.

Oct. 23 At Houston Baptist, 3 p.m.

Oct. 30 Northwestern State, Noon

Nov. 6 At McNeese State, Noon

Nov. 13 Incarnate Word, 11 a.m.

Nov. 18 At Southeastern, 3 p.m.

UL (0-1)

Sept. 4 At Texas, L 38-18

Sept. 11 Nicholls, 6 p.m.

Sept. 16 Ohio, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 At Georgia Southern, 5 p.m.

Oct. 2 At South Alabama, TBA

Oct. 12 Appalachian State, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 At Arkansas State, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 30 Texas State, TBA

Nov. 4 Georgia State, 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 13 At Troy, TBA

Nov. 20 At Liberty, TBA

Nov. 27 ULM, TBA

THE ADVOCATE SAYS …

UL 37, Nicholls 20

Last week’s loss was deflating for the Ragin’ Cajuns. All signs point toward it being a serious wakeup call after an offseason of receiving praise. The Cajuns didn’t contain on defense, didn’t pass it well enough, couldn’t get off the field on third down and couldn’t convert enough on offense to help out. The Colonels’ offense offers plenty of dynamic weapons, but the defense has proven to be vulnerable at times. It’s important for the Cajuns to begin establishing a running attack and find some rhythm to the passing game.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.