November 24, 2008

Raiders, Cajuns moving opposite directions

In what may be a play-in game to reach a bowl, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Lafayette will do battle December 3rd as both teams try to reach six wins for postseason eligibility.

But the Blue Raiders and Ragin Cajuns enter the matchup under decidedly different circumstances.

MT has won three consecutive games and is coming off a 52-13 drubbing of North Texas.

ULL has dropped three straight, including a blowout 48-3 setback at Troy on Saturday.

The Cajuns are still a dangerous foe with explosive potential. Head coach Rickey Bustle pinpointed Monday an area he has felt was largely responsible for the three game slide.

"Offensively we haven't put points on the board (because) we've been very poor in the red zone," Bustle said. "We've had chances in the red zone to get points and we haven't done it. And it's happened early in games and has affected all three games."

In a 37-24 loss to UTEP, the Ragin Cajuns had a 14 play, 77 yard drive come to a halt on downs just three yards away from the end zone.

A similar fate befell them in a 40-29 loss against Florida Atlantic. ULL turned it over on downs at the 15 yard line in the first quarter and later had another drive stopped just outside the red zone on an interception.

In Saturday's loss at Troy, ULL scored just once on three red zone trips.

There are some mounting injury concerns on the defensive side of the ball for Bustle as well, particularly at the linebacker spot.

"Defensively we've had to put some true freshmen in at positions where you hoped they could stay as backups but they are learning the hard way."

MT coach Rick Stockstill is not going to let the Blue Raiders be lulled to sleep by the Ragin Cajuns' recent losing streak or their injury concerns, which also include a bruised shoulder for star running back Tyrell Fenroy.

"I know when we lost three straight (earlier in the year), our guys didn't tank it," Stockstill said. "Now that Lafayette has lost three games I don't forsee them tanking it either. They still have a lot to play for as well. To me, the last game of the season here, you can throw out the last three weeks ... They've got excellent players at running back and quarterback. They've played well at home, they are 3-1 at home and their crowd will be into it. It will be a hostile place to go play."

Fenroy is the headliner for the Cajuns. He made national news earlier this year by becoming just the seventh major college running back to top 1,000 rushing yards for the fourth straight season.

He injured his shoulder in the first half of the Troy loss and was limited to just 10 carries for 23 yards.

Stockstill is not counting on an injury slowing down Fenroy though. He knows his defense will have to rise to that challenge.

"(Fenroy) is the most productive running back in the history of this conference," Stockstill said. "He's one of the best running backs in the country. I promise you he'll play, whatever is banged up, nicked up on him, I promise you when that whistle blows next week he'll line up and we're expecting him to play ... like he has all year.

"He is a great running back, he's hard to tackle, and he is a physical running back. We've got to prepare for him. We've got to tackle better than we have. We've got to be physical, we've got to be violent, and we've got to be ready to play this game." is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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