As the Ragin’ Cajuns close out their fall camp in preparation for the Sept. 4 season opener against the University of Texas at Austin, Head Coach Billy Napier has this team fully prepared for one of the biggest games in program history.
With the Associated Press releasing their first poll of the 2021 season, the Ragin’ Cajuns came out ranked No. 23 in the country, being nationally ranked in the preseason poll for the first time in program history. Along with the Cajuns being ranked, they’ll be facing No. 21 Texas in their week one showdown.
Louisiana returns 20 of their 22 starters for this season, bringing back their entire offensive load besides Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, who are both prepping for the NFL season.
Returning so much production from a year ago is crucial given the Cajuns went 10-1 with such a competitive schedule. The sheer dominance on offense, led by quarterback Levi Lewis, put this team in position to win week in and week out.
Lewis is one of the best dual-threat quarterback’s college football has to offer and threw for nearly 2,300 yards a season ago while rushing for 335 yards. Throwing for 19 touchdown passes with only seven interceptions shows his efficiency in the passing game while having the ability to create plays with his legs as well.
The leadership Lewis provides to this team goes without saying. Entering his third season as the Cajuns starter, he’s developed a father-son relationship with Coach Napier. The two perfectionists work hand in hand to keep this Louisiana engine running.
Along with Lewis, this offensive unit will see an uptick in production from running back Chris Smith this season after he showcased his talent as a kick return specialist a season ago. Smith’s ability to catch the ball in the backfield and make plays with his legs gives this offense tremendous versatility.
In the receiving game, this Cajuns roster is absolutely loaded, with weapons all over the field in Peter Leblanc, Kyren Lacy, among many Power Five transfers as well. A deep receiving corps provides Lewis with weapons all over while expanding the chance for the Cajuns to let their run game take over as well.
Though the offense takes much of the glory, this defensive unit is no pushover. Returning virtually all 11 starters on that end of the field, namely second-team All-Sun Belt selection Zi’Yon Hill, who was second on the team in sacks with four.
In the secondary, all-conference selection Bralen Trahan returns at safety, looking to capitalize after an incredible 2020 performance where he caught four interceptions.
Bringing both the offense and defense together, the Cajuns look poised to give the Texas Longhorns a run for their money in the Sept. 4 season opener. Both squads will be nationally ranked, giving fans one of the most sought-after matchups of week one.
The Longhorns will be led by newly named Head Coach Steve Sarkisian who is one of the best offensive coaches in the country. But, the Cajuns look to ruin his debut in Austin.
All in all, this matchup appears to be one of the most anticipated week one games where Billy Napier and his Ragin’ Cajuns look to make a statement against yet another nationally ranked opponent.
After a productive offseason where the Cajuns brought in numerous high caliber transfers while maintaining their starting units on both ends of the ball, the pride of Acadiana has the chance to make history against the Longhorns. With Levi Lewis leading the charge, the Cajuns have the chance to continue building off of their success and put Lafayette on the map.