The 2021 college football season was both great and awful for Louisiana as the Ragin’ Cajuns won the Sun Belt title and finished with 13 wins in their best season ever, but they also lost a rising superstar head coach to the University of Florida. What to expect this season from Louisiana? Let’s break it down for your favorite Odds.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns College Football Season 2022
Louisiana was to play in the 2020 Sun Belt title game but it was canceled to due to COVID. This past season, the Cajuns finished unbeaten in league play – their only loss was a season opener out of conference at Texas – with a 24-16 win over Appalachian State in the Sun Belt championship.
Most Valuable Player Levi Lewis came up huge through the air and on the ground, throwing for 210 yards and touchdown while adding a 56-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter for UL. Running back Emani Bailey was also a bright spot for the team, toting the ball 14 times for a career-high 117 yards and his sixth rushing touchdown of the season.
In the New Orleans Bowl, Louisiana handled Marshall 36-21. Lewis, playing in his final game in a Louisiana uniform, completed 19 of 31 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown while the Ragin’ Cajuns scored three touchdowns in the final 8:20.
In the debut for head coach Michael Desormeaux, Louisiana won its school-record 13th consecutive game. The 36-year-old Desormeaux joined his predecessor, Billy Napier (2018), and Sam Robertson (1980) as the only Louisiana coaches in the Division I era to win in his debut.
Napier didn’t coach because he was hired away by Florida of the SEC on 7-year, $51.8 million deal. Napier’s deal also includes performance bonuses of up to $1.5 million. Napier received a $100,000 signing bonus to help with moving expenses, along with two luxury cars, 16 tickets to every home and away game, 18 seats in a suite for home games. Can’t blame Napier as he only made $2 million last year at Louisiana.
A record-setting quarterback for Louisiana from 2005-08, Desormeaux has been on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ staff for the last six seasons and served as the co-offensive coordinator during the 2021 campaign when the team won its fourth consecutive Sun Belt West Division title. With his help, the offense ranked third in the Sun Belt in both scoring offense (31.2) and total offense (397.6) during the historic 2021 campaign and helped the team secure a program record 13 wins.
The big question for Desormeaux is who replaces Lewis, arguably the best quarterback in school history. Chandler Fields and Ben Wooldridge will battle to replace the longtime starter Lewis, and the winner will take over a team that has gone 34-5 over the past three seasons. Fields is likely to win the job. Last year, he appeared in eight games and completed nine of 13 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Desormeaux has a solid collection of skill talent returning, including running back Chris Smith and receivers Peter LeBlanc and Michael Jefferson. Smith was Louisiana’s leading rusher in 2021, totaling 855 yards on 153 attempts in 13 appearances. He produced one of the top single-game rushing performances in Louisiana history at Arkansas State (Oct. 21), rushing for 238 yards on 24 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Jefferson led the team with 481 receiving yards averaging close to 27 yards per grab with four scores, and LeBlanc returns after making 37 grabs.
The offensive line lost All-Sun Belt performers O’Cyrus Torrence to Florida and Max Mitchell to the New York Jets, but there’s enough in place for a decent starting five. Left guard AJ Gillie is the main holdover.
There’s plenty of continuity on defense, where a unit that ranked Top 20 nationally returns 13 of 22 players who saw 200-plus snaps. End Andre Jones and tackle Zi’Yon Hill are strong up front, and corner Eric Garror is among the best in a division that has quite a few strong defensive backs. Still, the top three linebackers are gone, as is star corner Mekhi Garner, who transferred to LSU.
Louisiana should go 3-1 in non-conference play: Beating SE Louisiana and Eastern Michigan at home, winning at Rice and losing at Florida State. The Cajuns don’t have to face Sun Belt East favorite Appalachian State in the regular season so that’s a break.
Louisiana Expert Predictions: 9-3 record, repeat as Sun Belt West champion
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