The Arkansas Razorbacks must not underestimate the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns to open up the regular season. Many fans might write this game in as a win for the SEC strong Razorbacks, but anything less than the team's best effort will likely result in an inauspicious start to the 2013 season.
Arkansas and its fans suffered through a miserable season in 2012, as the program only scraped together four wins. Proven winner and new head coach Bret Bielema appears to be having a positive impact on the players, however, and fans should expect a better product this season.
On the other side, Louisiana-Lafayette is a phoenix rising from the ashes under third-year head coach Mark Hudspeth. After decades of losing, the team has posted a record of 9-4 in each of Hudspeth's first two seasons, earning bowl bids in both.
Here's what you need to know about this upcoming matchup.
Where: D.W.R. Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
When: Saturday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m. ET
Betting Line (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 57
- Spread: Arkansas (-10)
Take the over, but be wary of betting on Arkansas to cover.
The Ragin' Cajuns bring an explosive offensive attack to the table. Last season, featuring an incredibly balanced attack, Louisiana-Lafayette scored 35.5 points per game on average, which ranked No. 24 in the nation.
Consequently, the team's defense, which wasn't particularly strong against the pass (283.5 passing yards per game), allowed 28.1 points per game.
Arkansas' offense must be up to the task of scoring a lot of points if the team is going to defend that spread, let alone win the game.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
No injuries to report.
WR D'Arthur Cowan, Out until early Oct., Foot
WR Demetrius Wilson, Out for season, Knee
LB Otha Peters, Out until early Oct., Arm
TE Austin Tate, Out until early Oct., Shoulder
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns Player to Watch: Terrance Broadway, QB
One of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation, Broadway is capable of shredding opposing defenses both as a passer and as a runner.
The junior signal-caller blew the hinges off of his first campaign with the program as a sophomore in 2012 after red-shirting in 2011 due to a transfer from Houston. He completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,847 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions, adding another 769 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
As a result of his fine play last season, Broadway was one of 30 quarterbacks named to the Manning Watch List (best quarterback in the country), as noted by Les East of the Baton Rouge Advocate:
A true dual-threat quarterback, Broadway plays with one of the deepest and most talented groups of running backs in the conference. The team's ability to pound out yardage and move the chains on the ground suits his game perfectly.
He's a dangerous passer—especially on play-action. Arkansas will have its hands full defending against Broadway and the Ragin' Cajuns.
Arkansas Razorbacks Player(s) to Watch: Chris Smith and Trey Flowers, DEs
If Arkansas has any chance of slowing down Broadway and the potent offense of the Ragin' Cajuns, defensive ends Chris Smith and Tre Flowers must be at the top of their games. The dynamic duo posted 13.5 sacks in 2012 and added 26 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Of the two, Smith is the more explosive. He logged 9.5 sacks last year, and he's expected to blow up this year. Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau notes that Smith has been named to four prestigious watch lists, and he's one of three players the program is featuring on the cover of its 2013 media guide.
Defending Louisiana-Lafayette's explosive offense won't be easy for Smith and Flowers, however. The duo will need to play with discipline on the edges, as Broadway is a slippery quarterback capable of making huge plays with his legs.
If Arkansas can generate consistent pressure and stop the potent rushing attack of Louisiana-Lafayette, then it has a great chance of winning the game. Flowers and Smith must have monster games to make this happen.
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