Tuesday, August 31, 2010

La-La Scouting Report Part II: Defense

*This thing certainly looks to be Cajun................and Ragin'.

In order to get a good picture of what makes a defense tick, I think it's a good idea to understand what drives them toward success. Finding out what motto (i.e. Finish the Drill) a unit possesses is sometimes a good indicator of the parts of the game they stress. Apparently the Ragin' Cajuns and AC/DC have something in common, TNT.

Their defensive motto is tackles and turnovers, which has been shortened to TNT. I have a feeling they'll know a few more AC/DC songs on Saturday cause it "Ain't No Fun" "Burning Alive" after UGA's recievers "Strike it Hot" when Louisiana is "Giving the Dog a Bone". Plans get "All Screwed Up" when "Live Wire"s playing Between the Hedges get "Back in Business". Sorry, I had to do it. I promise I'll stop in the "Nick of Time".

Base Defense: Bad rock and roll jokes aside, Louisiana-Lafayette runs a typical 4-3 defense, with two DT's and DE's, three LB's, two corners, and two safeties. It's essentially the same defense we have run in the recent past. Very standard in college football. The Cajuns return 8 starters from last years group and also get back Nate Douglas, who was injured in 2009.

Louisiana's defense has been suspect the past few years. Starting last year and working backward to 2004, they have ranked 93rd, 106th, 104th, 54th, 53rd, 65th. (Ave. = 80th) in total defense, respectively. They haven't done very well defending the pass or run, last year ranking 70th with 2669 total pass yards allowed. There is a reason they ranked 92nd in total defense last year when you consider their total of 2183 yards allowed on the ground as well.

Let's take a look at the unit personnel to get an idea of what the strengths and weaknesses will be of this years team, starting with the defensive line.

Defensive Line: Defensive tackle #90 Derrick Dean is one of three returning starters on the line from last year's unit. As I said earlier they do get back Jr. # 58 Nate Douglas, who had 6.5 tackles for loss in 08', and was injured last year. # 97 Terrell Richardson, a senior with 18 starts overall, will be on the outside at DE for the Cajuns. He is the elder brother of Alabama running back Trent Richardson. #98 Jordan Topp is the last projected starter along the line at DT. Despite returning a lot of depth in 09', this unit looks to be a bit ahead of that group and should be one of their strengths.

Linebackers: The Cajuns' linebacking corps is headlined by 1st Team Preseason All-Sunbelt and Lombardi Watchlist candidate #47 Grant Fleming at MLB. #4 Daylon McCoy, who started nine games last year, will start at the Will position. New starter, and potential "Hyphman" candidate # 11 Devon Lewis-Buchanon, will start at the Sam position. While there is definitely less quality here than in 2009, this should still be a pretty solid group.

Defensive Backs: This should be the strong point of La-La's defense. Among the four starters they have a combined 52 starts. # 2 Orkeys Auriene starts at corner and is the most experienced of the group with 26 starts overall. Junior #5 Dwight Bentley is the best DB of the group with 21 starts and was named 1st Team All-SBC last year. The safeties are Hawaii transfer #21 Lance Kelley, and #36 Maurice Rolle. It is a bit concerning that the safeties don't have much experience, but they seem to have a good defensive coordinator in Kevin Fouquier.

Punter: #35 Spencer Ortego was an All-SBC selection last year. He averaged 40.6 per last year with a net of 37.6. Despite his good work, the Cajuns ranked 111th in my punt team rankings from last week. Not a good sign for Mr. Ortego.

Here is the projected starting lineup on the defensive side of the ball Saturday:

DE #58 Jr. Nate Douglas
DE #97 Sr. Terrell Richardson
DT #98 Sr. Jordan Topp
DT #90 Jr. Derrek Dean

MLB #47 Jr. Grant Fleming
WLB #4 Jr. Daylon McCoy
SLB #11 Jr. Devon Lewis-Buchanon

CB #5 Jr. Dwight Bentley
CB #2 Sr. Orkeys Auriene
FS #36 Sr. Maurice Rolle
SS #21 Jr. Lance Kelley

P #35 Sr. Spencer Ortego

*Stats Courtesy of Phil Steele and CFBstats.com

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