San Diego St. Aztecs
@ Louisiana Ragin Cajuns
Saturday, Dec 17, 2011, 6:00 PM PST
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Louisiana-Lafayette is taking part in their first bowl game in their short FBS history and finished the year 8-4 which was good enough for third in the Sun Belt Conference. The Ragin' Cajuns won all the games they should have and lost to the teams they should have. Their best win was a 36-21 victory over Florida International and their four loses came to Oklahoma State, Arizona, Arkansas State and Western Kentucky.
The best player for Louisiana-Lafayette is wide receiver Javone Lawson who led the team in receptions (53), yards (899) and was second on the team in touchdowns with six. Lawson is also a deep threat who averages 16.3 yards per game.
ESPN's Scout's Inc. ($) projects the matchup between Lawson and San Diego State cornerback Larry Parker:
Lawson is an above-average route runner who can extend his arms and pluck the ball out of the air. He also has a notable size advantage over Parker, but the overall edge still goes to Parker, who is quick and fluid enough to limit Lawson's separation underneath. He can turn and run with Lawson on vertical routes, and Parker's nose for the ball will make Ragin' Cajuns QB Blaine Gautier think twice about testing him when Lawson isn't able to break free. Parker is also tough for his size and capable of limiting Lawson's production after the catch.
While that may be a key matchup for the game, Louisiana-Lafayette will need to find other receivers to get open, because San Diego State has 31st rated pass defense in the country. They have gone up against some good passing teams in Boise State and TCU during the season, so they should be able to handle Louisiana-Lafayette's passing game.
The quarterback for Louisiana-Lafayette is Blaine Gautier who completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,488 yards and an impressive 20 touchdown to five interception ratio. With San Diego State's 3-3-5 defense he might struggle to pick up big yardage, but that just means they will need to make short quick passes and run the ball in hopes of sucking in the defense to open up the passing game. However, Louisiana-Lafayette has three receivers who caught 46 passes or more and then there is red zone threat Darryl Surgent who has 25 catches but six touchdowns.
The big advantage San Diego State has is running back Ronnie Hillman who is going up against Louisiana-Lafayette who is middle of the pack nationally, and this could be the key matchup in this game. The passing game has been hit and miss for San Diego State, so if the running game is slowed down then San Diego State could be in trouble.
One huge advantage that Louisiana-Lafayette has is that they are essentially playing at home, and have sold out of their 18,500 ticket allotment and are expected to bring thousands of more fans. San Diego State on the other hand sold approximately 1,000 of their ticket allotment, so this will be essentially a road game.
Here is Scouts Inc. position breakdown:
|San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Matchups|
The line on this game is San Diego State by four, but I expected the Aztecs to win by at least a touchdown.
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