TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Troy Trojans look to carry last Saturday’s hot offensive and defensive performances into this upcoming Saturday where they’ll confront the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana.
The 5-5 Trojans have an uphill battle to bowl eligibility these final two games of the season. Both opponents lead the Western and Eastern divisions of the Sun Belt Conference and have a combined record of 17-3.
Troy’s Saturday opponent, Louisiana, leads the Western division with an 8-2 overall record, and 5-1 conference record. Its only conference blemish was a 17-7 loss at the hands of the Appalachian State Mountaineers, who lead the Eastern division, Oct. 9.
Louisiana boasts a powerful offense and stingy defense. Statistically, the Ragin’ Cajuns rank at or near the top of several categories in the Sun Belt on both sides of the ball.
“When you flip the film on and see this is one of the better teams in our league. It is going to be a lot of fun with two good football teams playing; we’re ready for the challenge,” said Troy head coach Chip Lindsey.
The Ragin’ Cajuns ride a four-game win streak into Saturday behind an offense that’s averaged 38.3 points per game in each of those wins, while the defense has stifled opposing offenses, allowing just 14.3 points in those games.
On the season, statistically the Ragin’ Cajuns (38.2 ppg) rank behind Troy (39.0 ppg) and App State (38.4 ppg) in scoring offense. Nationally, The Trojans, Mountaineers and Ragin’ Cajuns rank 10th through 12th.
The offense of Louisiana is powered by their two running backs in Elijah Mitchell and Trey Regas. Both junior backs rank in the top 10 among all rushers in the Sun Belt. Mitchell’s rushed for 874 yards and 13 touchdowns - the touchdowns lead all running backs in the conference - while Regas has rushed for 669 yards and 9 touchdowns. Louisiana also has a third back, Raymond Calais, and Lindsey feels all three will play at the next level.
Troy boasts one of the better run-stopping defenses nationally - 54th at 144.6 rushing yards per game - and will need that to show up Saturday as Louisiana ranks sixth nationally in rushing offense at 278.4 yards per game.
“Running backs make up bulk of offense. They’re going to run the football so we’re going to have to make sure to play a good game upfront,” said Lindsey.
Defensively, Louisiana leads the conference allowing just 18.1 points per game by their opponents. That number’s good enough for 14th nationally. Louisiana’s also the toughest Sun Belt Conference defense to score on in the red zone while Troy has the best red zone offense in the conference. For Lindsey, Louisiana’s stingy defense doesn’t just begin with one person, but the entire unit as a whole makes plays.
“Their defensive line is very athletic, defensive backs are aggressive and contest throws; it is going to be a big challenge for us,” said Lindsey.
Something’s got to give on Saturday when these two meet. If one team is to be the victor, they’ll have to have enough from their high-powered offenses and get just enough stops from their tough defensive units.
Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week Kaleb Barker and the Trojans travel to Lafayette Saturday for a 4 p.m. kickoff against the Ragin’ Cajuns.