Calming the Ragin’ Cajuns


Photo by Carson Hager | The Appalachian

Cory Spiers

Tale of streaks
Saturday’s matchup is once again a good one, as App State and Louisiana currently hold the longest winning streaks in the Sun Belt.

App State has ripped off four-straight wins after starting the season 1-5 while the Ragin’ Cajuns have won six consecutive contests after starting 1-3.

No other Sun Belt team currently has a winning streak of longer than two games, so it’s fitting that these two squads are meeting late in the season.

App State is locked in a tie for third place with Arkansas State and trail only the red hot Georgia Southern Eagles and the Ragin’ Cajuns.

The Mountaineers’ confidence could certainly be boosted by knocking off second-place Louisiana.

Ground war
App State has had great success with its ground attack, but that will certainly be tested against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Louisiana leads the Sun Belt in rushing defense, allowing 140.6 yards per game. They are also third in the conference in rushing offense, gaining 231 yards per game.

Cajuns’ running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris both sit within the Sun Belt’s top 10 rushers with 960 and 591 yards, respectively.

Slowing down McGuire and Harris will be important for the App State defense, but it will also be important to get Marcus Cox, Terrence Upshaw and Ricky Fergerson going early.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have a good running back duo, but the Mountaineers just might have more quality depth with their three-pronged attack.

Circle the running game as a key to this one. Whichever team gets it going first might be able to control the pace and win the game.

Lean on Cox
While it will be important for App State to get all three of their running backs going, Cox is the most deadly of the three right now.

Cox carried the ball a career-high 40 times against Arkansas State, and great results followed.

Cox rushed for 229 yards, which is the 13th highest single-game total in App State history and also added two touchdowns.

Cox’s 40 carries were also the third-most in school history and the most since Damon Scott amassed 42 carries against Chattanooga in 1996.

Cox should continue to be the focal point of the App State rushing attack and Louisiana likely expects that.

How he responds to that pressure will be a big deciding factor on how this one goes for the Mountaineers.

Road warriors
App State’s win over Arkansas State was the program’s first in 11 all-time games played west of the Mississippi River.

That is something to build on, and now, the team will be asked to do it again.

More impressively was the fact that the home loss for the Red Wolves was their first of the season and only its third in its last 23 home games.

App State continues to play a smart, winning style of football away from home and that has been important in the team’s resurgence after the slow start.

The Mountaineers have not won in the state of Louisiana in six previous trips, and this won’t be an easy one as the Ragin’ Cajuns are 4-1 at home.

It’s been a while since Louisiana’s lone home loss, which came Sept. 6 in a 48-20 set back against Louisiana Tech.

The solid running game and strong defense are App State’s keys to winning on the road and they will both have to work in full force if the Mountaineers are to win five straight for the first time since 2008.

Story: Cory Spiers, Sports Editor