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The Ragin’ Cajuns are Ready to GEAUX to Work in 2023

After going 40-12 under Billy Napier from 2018-2021, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns took a step back in 2022 with a 6-7 record under first-year head man Michael Desormeaux. But rest assured, Desormeaux will have the Cajuns ready to geaux to work and paint the Sun Belt Conference Vermilion (Red) in 2023.

But with putting in that work comes some challenges as the Cajuns return only 10 starters from last year’s team.

The Cajuns' Offense

The Cajuns' offense returns 6 starters that averaged 26 points per game in 2022.

As I have said many times before, the quarterback position is THE most important position on the field. And Louisiana returns both of their QBs that platooned in 2022, as both missed some starts last season.

Ben Wooldridge passed for 1661 yards, 15 TDs, and only 5 INTs. He completed 56% of his passes. Wooldridge threw for over 300 yards in back-to-back weeks against Arkansas State (WIN) and Southern Miss (LOSS). In those two games, Wooldridge threw 7 touchdown passes and 3 INTs. Wooldridge missed the final 3 games of the season.

Chandler Fields threw for 1123 yards, 11 TDs, and 4 INTs. He missed 5 games at midseason but returned the start the final 3 games as a replacement for Wooldridge.

At running back, the Cajuns return Terrence Williams (373 yards, 1 TD) and Dre’lyn Washington (350 yards, 2 TDs).

The wide receiver room still has Peter LeBlanc (22 catches, 174 yards, 1 TD) and Jacob Bernard (11 catches, 191 yards, 2 TDs).

TE Neal Johnson also returns. Johnson was second on the team last year in receiving, catching 25 passes for 296 yards and 2 TDs. For his efforts, Johnson earned All-Sun Belt Conference Honorable Mention.

Nathan Thomas, AJ Gillie, and Jax Harrington return to anchor the offensive line.

The Cajuns' Defense

The defense returns just 3 starters from last year’s squad that allowed 22 points per game. That experience will be concentrated on the defensive line and the secondary. The Cajuns were 3rd in the Sun Belt in INTs with 15. Those returning starters are:

  • NT Sonny Hazard: 26 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 4 sacks

  • DE Jordan Lawson: 22 tackles, 1 tackle for loss in 9 games.

  • LB KC Ossai: 63 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 pass breakup.

Other returning contributors on the defensive side of the ball include:

  • Courtline Flowers: 32 tackles, 3 TFls, 1 sack, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble.

  • Tyrone Lewis: 42 tackles

  • Amir McDaniel: 16 tackles, 3 pass breakups, and 1 TFL.

  • Caleb Anderson: 13 tackles.

“Lunch” is Served, He will be of Service

The Cajuns went out and signed arguably the best player in the State of Louisiana in Lutcher (HS) quarterback DeWanye’ Winfield, nicknamed “Lunch.”

At 6-3, 215 pounds, Winfield is a dual-threat athlete in every sense of the word. A nightmare for defensive coordinators everywhere, Winfield was an offensive juggernaut in his senior year for the Lutcher Bulldogs: 4657 total yards - 2180 passing yards, 32 TDs; 2477 rushing yards, 38 scores 970 total TDs).

He led the Bulldogs to their 9th state championship in school history in 2022 by defeating North DeSoto for the title. In that game, Winfield accounted for 429 total yards and scored 4 touchdowns in the victory.

Winfield had offers from Power 5 schools Louisville, UCF, and Virginia (as he maintained a 3.5 GPA). But he chose UL because of a long-standing (4-year) relationship he had with Coach Desormeaux. Coach Desormeaux was an assistant coach under Billy Napier and had been recruiting Winfield since he was a freshman at Lutcher.

The accolades that Winfield brought home last season were the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year by the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club. He also earned the Warrick Dunn Award as the SportsLine Player of the Year by WAFB Channel 9 in Baton Rouge.

It can, and has been argued, that Winfield should have been named the Lousiana Gatorade Player of the Year. However, that award went to Newman quarterback Arch Manning, who had a MUCH lesser stat line. Manning was rated the #1 prospect in the 2023 class and signed with Texas.

Winfield has way too much talent to be on the bench in 2023. His sheer athletic ability right now puts him as the best player on the Cajuns team this season, before he even takes a snap. Obviously, he can make plays with his passing skills, but he can also extend plays with his running ability.

Look for Winfield to win the starting job as QB1 in preseason camp and will lead the Cajuns on the field when they host Northwestern (LA) State on September 2.

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