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The Ragin’ Machine

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Louisiana’s offense is perfect.

Louisiana’s offense is perfect. Not in the way that, say, Oklahoma’s is perfect, or that Oregon’s was earlier in the decade, or Florida’s the decade prior, or USC’s before that.

It’s unstoppable. Albeit, a different sort of unstoppable than Auburn’s with Cam Newton, or Texas A&M’s with Johnny Manziel, or Louisville’s with Lamar Jackson.

It’s not built around any singularly transcendent talent, like the latter group, nor is it a groundbreaking fusion of elite playmakers thriving under revolutionary playcallers, like the former.

It’s as simple as a punch in the face, and exquisitely executed by complementary personnel.

Everything starts up front with the Sun Belt’s best offensive line, led by tackle Robert Hunt and guard Kevin Dotson. Those two are indisputably the best players in the league at their respective positions. Even in spite of some pretty substantial injury losses elsewhere along the LOS, the unit has not missed a beat.

Standout center Cole Prudhomme was lost for the year, during the preseason, to a torn ACL, but Shane Vallot has stepped in admirably, and looks like an all-conference caliber player himself. Ken Marks, too, had his season cut short after a week one knee injury, but everything about Vallot is true for O’Cyrus Torrence, as well, Yet, somehow, of all the new starters, Max Mitchell might be the best of the bunch.

The unit’s dominance was on full display today against a Georgia Southern group that boasts arguably the best defensive lineman in the conference, Raymond Johnson. Johnson and company were completely neutralized, as he finished with just two tackles, and the team, as a whole, only made two stops behind the line of scrimmage, with no sacks.

The Cajuns’ big boys opened up massive holes all day, their stable of backs often reaching the second level before a defender even sniffed laying a hand on them. Any average Joe off the street could have put up decent numbers behind that offensive line, this evening, so it’s not a surprise what arguably the three best running backs in the SBC did.

The three-headed monster of Trey Ragas, Elijah Mitchell, and Raymond Calais combined for 248 rushing yards and four scores on 37 carries. Maintaining the roughly 40%-40%-20% split they’ve been utilizing this season, as far as touch distribution between the three, this trio has something for everyone.

Looking for a bit of a throwback that can pick up yards after contact, but also boasts some surprising shake in the open field? Trey Ragas has it covered.

A change of pace home run hitter? That’s Raymond Calais.

Something in between the two, plus a little more pass catching ability out of the backfield? Elijah Mitchell time.

And then, just when you’ve taken as many of those face punches as you can handle, there goes Ja’Marcus Bradley for six.

With a perfectly serviceable game manager behind center, and one of the two best receivers in the league, the passing game is merely an added luxury. Louisiana ran the ball almost 80% of the time against the Eagles, and Bradley still found the end zone for his fourth touchdown in as many games.

A perfect offense doesn’t need to score the most points, but it can score whenever it needs to. App State may have led the league in points per game a season ago, but Louisiana averaged more points per drive. It should be obvious which is more important. It doesn’t need to rack up the most yards, simply to move the ball efficiently and effectively. App and Arkansas State had more total offense in 2018, but the Cajuns picked up more yards per play.

That was last season, though. This group, a year older and a year better, looks even more dominant. This year, they might do it all. They entered the Georgia Southern contest with the most points and yards per game, while, most importantly, maintaining or even improving upon the efficiency with which those are acquired.

App looks more beatable than it did in 2018. Troy just lost to Arkansas State, and the Red Wolves have been bitten as hard as anyone by the injury bug this year. The league is up for grabs.

There are probably still some defensive issues to clean up before Louisiana can be called the most complete team, although their showing in Statesboro was certainly impressive.

Then again, it may not even matter if no one can stop the Ragin’ Cajuns’ perfect offense.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP