Southern at UL-Lafayette: Four things to watch

1. LET THEM RUN

Listen to some of these rushing totals the Jaguars gave up in nonconference games last season: 372 yards and four touchdowns in a 62-13 loss to Houston, 192 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-14 loss to Northwestern State, and a whopping 419 yards and seven touchdowns in a 62-59 double overtime win against Prairie View. Those were Southern’s first three games last season, in which they allowed almost 1,000 rushing yards. Cajuns running backs Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire, both of whom came close to topping 1,000 yards last year, should be licking their chops. Oh, by the way, the Cajuns were 6-0 when rushing for 200 or more yards in a game last year, winning those games by nearly a 25-point average.

2. TEMPO, TEMPO, TEMPO

The Cajuns don’t really care about pass-run splits or time of possession. What really matters is how efficiently their offense operates. The Cajuns will look to get in a solid rhythm early Saturday night, and that starts with having Harris, McGuire and quarterback Terrance Broadway set the tone. They’re not going to try to mimick Oregon’s quick-strike offense out there, but look for the Cajuns to keep things moving at a quick and steady pace when they have the ball in their hands.

3. PROVIDE A ROUGH INTRODUCTION

Southern redshirt freshman Deonte Shorts will start his first college game Saturday against an experienced Ragin’ Cajuns defense. Hudspeth knows the best way to rattle an inexperienced quarterback is to get pressure in his face, and he hopes the Cajuns can do that without giving future opponents a look at some of the more exotic defensive packages the Cajuns plan to run this year. The Jaguars had a pass-heavy offense last season with senior quarterback Dray Joseph running the show, but with the inexperienced Shorts at the wheel, they might rely more on running back Lenard Tillery early.

4. STAY HEALTHY

If winning the game is Priority No. 1, this is Priority No. 1A. The Cajuns have lofty goals this year, but those goals become drastically less achievable with each starter that goes down to injury. Hudspeth has made it known that this is is the deepest team he’s ever had in Lafayette, and he’s right. But it’s the kind of depth that can spell a starter for a quarter or a game, not for a season. Injuries are freak occurrences, but they can be managed to a minor extent. It’s hard to get injured if you’re not on the field. Don’t be surprised when Hudspeth sends in the second and third-teamers if the Cajuns build a big lead.