Ragin’ Cajuns, Demons set to open the season under the lights in “The Swamp”
LAFAYETTE – The second full season of the Michael Desormeaux era begins on Saturday at Cajun Field when the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns host in-state opponent Northwestern State in the annual Herbert Heymann Classic.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with Dan McDonald (pxp) and Eric Mouton (color) providing the commentary. Fans can listen to the game in the Lafayette area on Hot 107.9 FM, 103.3 The Goat, 1420 AM and globally on the Varsity Network app.
The meeting with Northwestern State (4-7 in 2022) will be the 77th between the two schools dating back to 1909 with Louisiana holding a 38-35-3 advantage. Louisiana (6-7 in 2022), coming off its school-record fifth consecutive bowl appearance, has won the last three matchups, including a 44-14 triumph in the previous meeting on Sept. 12, 2015.
Redshirt senior quarterback Ben Wooldridge is slated to be Louisiana’s starting quarterback after throwing for 1,661 yards and 15 touchdowns last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
The Ragin’ Cajuns return two of their top three rushing leaders from a year ago in Terrence Williams (373 yds) and Dre’lyn Washington (350 yds). Washington posted a team-high 5.5 yards per carry.
Tight end Neal Johnson returns as the team’s leading receiver, and the senior has claimed preseason notoriety after being named to multiple preseason All-Sun Belt teams and several award watch lists. Redshirt junior AJ Gillie anchors a veteran offensive line and was named to the Outland Trophy Award Watch List, Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team and Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List.
Linebacker K.C. Ossai looks to anchor the Ragin’ Cajuns defense as the junior registered 63 total tackles in 2022, the most of any returnee.
Louisiana’s special teams unit was one of the best in the country in 2022 as it led the nation in punt returns for touchdowns and punt return yards and ranked first in the Sun Belt in punt return average, blocked kicks, yards per kick return allowed and blocked punts.
Kenneth Almendares was a catalyst for the special teams as he was 18-for-23 on his field goal attempts and made his last 12 attempts. The redshirt junior made all three of his field goal attempts from 50-or-more yards and enters the season on the Lou Groza Award watch list.
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GAME 1 PREVIEW – Louisiana (6-7 in 2022) vs. Northwestern State (4-7 in 2022)
Location: Cajun Field (41,426); Lafayette, La.
Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Talent: Dan McDonald (play-by-play), Eric Mouton (analyst)
Local Radio: Hot 107.9-FM; ESPN 1420 AM, Varsity Network
Talent: Jay Walker (play-by-play), Gerald Broussard (analyst), Cody Junot (sideline)
All-Time Series: Louisiana leads, 38-35-3
In Lafayette: Louisiana leads, 21-17-1
In Natchitoches: NSU leads, 18-13-2
Unknown Sites: Louisiana leads, 4-0
First Meeting: L, 0-47 (November 25, 1909 at Natchitoches)
Last Meeting: W, 44-14 (Sept. 12, 2015 at Lafayette)