NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion's opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

OPINION — Cajuns will repeat in last year’s steps as they beat another Big 12 team in their first week, becoming ranked yet again

The Cajuns kick off the highly anticipated season against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal Stadium in Texas on September 4.

The two teams have only played twice in history, where they lost both times. Despite that, this year could be different. The underdog Cajuns proved that they are a team not to be glossed over when they defeated Iowa State, becoming ranked for the first time in program history, and maintaining their early ranking throughout the season.

The team even moved up throughout the season, going from no. 25 to no. 15. With this being said, the Longhorns also finished ranked at no. 19 (A spot previously held by the Cajuns) as well as fourth in the Big 12 Conference.

When discussing what the Cajuns need to do to stop the Longhorns, looking at the defense is key. The Longhorns have some key offensive players that make their offense special as well as some factors that could hurt them. For starters, their running back, Bijan Robinson, looks to be a key weapon all season. The freshman running back had 703 yards and four touchdowns last season, establishing early talk of Heisman opportunities.

Their offense is also receiving a new starting quarterback, Casey Thompson. While Thompson looks to be the future Quarterback for Texas, he only threw for 55 yards last season for two touchdowns. The third-year player has only played in a total of seven games.

The Texas offense also looks to be amped up with receiving Steve Sarkisian as their new head coach. Sarkisian was previously the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama where Running Back Najee Harris finished fifth in Heisman voting. One can expect Bijan Robinson to show out all season, especially in his first game under Steve Sarkisian.

The Cajuns proved efficient offensively last season and could perform great again with veterans returning. With quarterback Levi Lewis returning for another season and completing an average of 208.55 yards per game, and Wide Receivers such as Peter Leblanc (334 receiving yards and 14.52 yards per carry) and Kyren Lacy (364 receiving yards and 13 yards per carry) the team looks good on passing. For rushing, the dynamic duo of Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell leave big shoes to fill.

 As for their defense, all starters who played in the First Responder Bowl last season will make returns. Cajuns also brought in new team players such as the sophomore transfer safety from Kansas State, Tyrone Lewis Jr. Lewis has only played two games in his college career, but has made three sacks. 

Over the past couple of years, the Longhorns have proven to be mediocre at best when it comes to defense. The team received a new defensive coordinator to fix their errors, so Cajuns can expect open opportunities to pass downfield.

Like the Longhorns, Cajuns are experiencing turnover in the coaching staff as they parted ways with their offensive coordinator and received new offensive line assistant coaches and inside linebacker coaches.

 When looking at Texas' last season, they did not start off well. They won their first game by a landslide but barely won their second against Texas Tech in overtime. Texas Tech had lost six of their games last season. In addition to this loss, they lost to TCU who went 6-4 in their season.

There's no doubt that the first game of the 2021 season will be a tough one, but winning is a big possibility. Both teams have good offenses with varying factors such as new plays and returning ones. 

For the Cajuns, veteran quarterback Lewis returns with good receivers, but their running back position is still looking for a star now that Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas are gone. For the Longhorns, they have a new starting quarterback, Thompson, but have young running back prospect Bjian Robinson and coach Sarkisian as their new head coach. 

Defensively, it is hard to say who is better because of the varying conference opponents, but historically, defense is not the Longhorn’s strongest attribute.

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