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Football: UL’s 2014 schedules arranged differently

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, August 23, 2014



A year ago, the Cajuns opened up 0-2 at Kansas State and at Arkansas. Pictured here are UL’s Dominick Jones (18) and Sean Thomas (24) bringing down Kansas State tight end Zach Trujillo (85) during last year’s game in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo: Scott Sewell/USA Today Sports)


The UL football team started 2013 with a couple of tall tasks, paying back-to-back visits to two teams from Big Five conferences – Arkansas of the SEC and Kansas State of the Big 12 – on the first two Saturdays of the season.

The Ragin’ Cajuns lost both games.

Their 2014 season, however, brings a different tact to Cajun scheduling.

UL opens Saturday night at home against Southern, defending champion of the lower-level FCS SWAC. One week later, they play host to an in-state rival from a peer Group of Five conference – a Louisiana Tech team from Conference USA that last year finished.

It’s only after facing those two that the Cajuns will pay a visit to their only SEC opponent of the season, Ole Miss, on Sept. 13. A Sept. 20 visit to perennial Group of Five power Boise State of the Mountain West follows after that.

It’s a layout of four non-conference games before a string of eight straight Sun Belt Conference games that some with the Cajuns feel works to their favor.

“We get a chance to play two different teams early on until we get into the big part of our schedule with Boise State and Ole Miss,” starting quarterback Terrance Broadway said. “So we get a good chance to warm up with those two games, and compete against Louisiana Tech in Week 2 and compete with Southern in Week 1.

“It gives us an opportunity to play together for two games before we get into the beef of the schedule against those two top teams. (That) is real big for us, because last year we started off with that part of the schedule.”

It’s a much-needed opportunity to come together when the Cajuns face two name opponents they really do think they can knock off.

That said, UL seniors Broadway and running back Alonzo Harris also have a healthy dose of respect for the Rebels and Broncos.

“They definitely are two quality football teams,” Harris said. “We’re not going in there just thinking that we’re gonna push anybody over or anything. We’re definitely gonna have to go in there and compete, especially with those two games.”

Yet Broadway calls both “very winnable games in our opinion.”

“Maybe it’s only in our eyes – as a team, and the coaching staff – but in our eyes those two are winnable games,” he said, “and we’re not going to Oxford and we’re not going to Boise for moral victories at all.

“We’re going to win both of those games. We just have to play hard, and play the game the right way, turn-over free, and I feel like we have a real good chance to win those games.”

If the Cajuns somehow can manage that, it would go a long way toward their ultimate hope of running the table.

“We have an opportunity to do some unbelievable things, and that’s what the plans are,” Harris said of a team that has enjoyed three straight 9-4 seasons.

Under the NCAA’s new postseason/four-team playoff setup, an undefeated season would put UL in prime position to perhaps claim the New Year’s Bowl bid that is guaranteed to go to at least one Group of Five program.

And from Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth’s viewpoint, it can’t hurt to have opponents like those UL have in Weeks 3 and 4.

“I think our schedule is pretty competitive,” Hudspeth said. “It’s tough enough with the conference, but then you add one of the top teams in the non-BCS with Boise, and then you add to me one of the most-talented teams in the BCS right now with Ole Miss, both on the road – those are both huge challenges for our program.”

They’re challenges that will be made easier, Broadway believes, because of preceding games against Southern and Louisiana Tech.

“I feel like this year,” Broadway said, “we have an opportunity to get some cohesion.”