Louisiana-Lafayette running back Trey Ragas has rushed for 375 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries. (Sue Ogrocki / AP)
Kickoff: Saturday, 2 p.m., Kibbie Dome, Moscow
Records: Idaho (2-2, 1-0 in Sun Belt), Louisiana-Lafayette (1-3, 0-1 in Sun Belt)
Overview: In three of its four games this year, Louisiana-Lafayette has lit up the scoreboard. It has scored 50 points twice and is nearly a lock to put up points in the red zone. Even in a loss to Texas A&M, it managed to score 21. So far, though, the Ragin’ Cajuns can’t stop anyone. They have given up 215 points in four games, including 66 against Tulsa.
But Idaho coach Paul Petrino believes that the outcome of Saturday’s homecoming will be close. Petrino predicts “a one-possession game, probably won right at the end.”
Idaho’s stout linebackers, where there is speed and depth, could be tested. The Cajuns’ Trey Ragas has rushed for 375 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries. Elijah Mitchell had added 243 yards and five TDs on 37 carries. Both go about 220 pounds. Louisiana-Lafayette also has four receivers to watch, led by Keenan Barnes. For the season, Barnes has 25 catches for 329 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Davis opened the season as the Cajuns’ starting quarterback but was injured against Texas A&M. He was relieved by Andre Nunez, who led the Ragin’ Cajuns back from a 21-point deficit in an eventual overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe. Petrino said Idaho is prepared to face both.
The Vandals’ Matt Linehan, who is in fourth place on Idaho’s career passing list, is fashioning an impressive senior season. Through four games, he has thrown for 926 yards, completing 75 of 117 passes, a rate of 64.1 percent. He has thrown for seven touchdowns with four interceptions. A rebuilt offensive line has improved week-to-week. “I feel way more comfortable back there in the pocket,” Linehan said.
Idaho and Louisiana-Lafayette are coming off byes. The Cajuns used the time to let newly hired defensive analyst James Willis study their leaky defense. Willis was Louisiana-Lafayette’s defensive coordinator in 2014 before leaving for a job in the NFL. As an analyst, he can watch tape, chart team tendencies and talk to coaches, but he can’t directly coach players. Still, his return to Louisiana-Lafayette sent Petrino into the archives to review what the Cajuns did when Willis led them.
Last year’s game tape provides more pleasant viewing. Idaho beat the Ragin’ Cajuns 23-13 on the road.
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