In Billy Napier’s first season calling plays at UL, his offense made progress.

The Ragin' Cajuns averaged 31.9 points and 424.3 total yards per game.

That was good enough to rank second in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring, third in total offense, fifth in passing and third in rushing.

As encouraging as that first season was, however, the Cajuns are planning on an offensive show in Year 2 that won’t resemble what the fans saw the first time around.

“It’s going to grow leaps and bounds,” senior guard Kevin Dotson said.

On paper, it’s not all that difficult to believe an upgrade is in the cards.

Dotson is part of an offensive line featuring four returning starters with a fifth possible later in the season, depending on the progress of injured center Cole Prudhomme, who had offseason knee surgery.

“Since we’re so comfortable with it now, it’s going to be — on top of what we did last year — almost two times production to me,” Dotson said. “I think we’re going to be moving fast and we’re going to be an up-tempo team, so we’re going to catch people off guard.”

The running back group is arguably the best in school history. The wide receiving corps showed progress in the spring. The tight end position has been bolstered and Levi Lewis is entering his first season as a starter with experience under center the past two seasons.

“We’re strong in all the areas around the quarterback," offensive coordinator Rob Sale said. "Now we’ve just got to get a quarterback who can make plays and do his deal, which we feel we have a couple of guys who can do that."

For some, it might seen unrealistic to expect the running backs to be more productive than a year ago. After all, Trey Ragas rushed for 1,181 yards and eight touchdowns, Elijah Mitchell had 985 yards and 13 scores and Raymond Calais added 754 yards and seven touchdowns.

And that doesn’t include that group combining for 51 receptions for 647 yards and five scores.

“If we can block a little bit more, they make stuff happen on their own sometimes, so if we don’t put that burden on them, they can get way more than what they did last year,” Dotson said.

The 6-foot-5, 321-pound redshirt senior just can't get a few plays out of his mind after watching film.

“Some plays if you ever watched it, Ragas made some plays that if we missed a block, he still made it happen,” Dotson said. “So if he ran over five people, we were supposed to block two of those people. If he doesn’t have those distractions, it’s to the house.”

The receiving corps has an elite option in senior Ja’Marcus Bradley, who likes the supporting cast.

“I see a lot of progress in Brian (Smith) and Jamal (Bell) and Calif (Gossett),” Bradley said. “Y’all saw it in the spring game a little bit, but we’ve got enough guys coming up at the right time.”

And perhaps the biggest reason to believe a much higher level will be reached is the improvement at tight end. Chase Rogers is finally healthy, Johnny Lumpkin has a year under his belt and graduate transfer Nick Ralston adds a new dimension.

“We’ve got more bodies in there — Johnny Lumpkin and Chase, and Chase is healthy,” Sale said. “We ask a lot of our tight ends, not only in the run game but in the pass game. We need all those bodies that you can get. We want to be unique in this league.”


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.