Gophers v. Louisiana: Week 5 Preview

–> Follow @Tony Liebert on Twitter

Broadcast Info:

  • Date: Sat., Sept. 30
  • TV channel: BTN
  • Time of kickoff: 11:00 a.m. (CST)
    • Betting line: Minnesota (-11.5) vs. Louisiana, o/u: (48.5 points)

Opponent Information (Louisiana):

  • 2023 record: 3-1
    • V. Northwestern State (FCS) 38-13 W
    • @ Old Dominion 31-38 L
    • @ UAB 41-21 W
    • V. Buffalo 45-38 W
  • 2022 record: 6-7
      • Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl vs. Houston 16-23 L
    • V. SE Louisiana (FCS) 24-7 W
    • V. Eastern Michigan 49-21 W
    • @ Rice 21-33 L
    • @ Louisiana Monroe 17-21 L
    • V. South Alabama 17-20 L
    • @ Marshall 23-13 W
    • V. Arkansas State 38-18 W
    • @ Southern Miss 24-39 L
    • V. Troy 17-23 L
    • V. Minnesota 36-17 W
    • @ Florida State 17-49 L
    • @ Texas State 41-13 W
  • Head Coach: Michael Desormeaux (2nd year)
  • Players to watch: Zeon Chriss (QB), Jacob Kibodi (RB), Kendre’ Gant (LB), Caleb Anderson (CB), Nathan Thomas (OT)

Unfortunately for Gophers fans, they’ve seen a team’s comeback from losses like last week vs. Northwestern, most recently in 2021 when they went on to go 9-4 following the catastrophic loss to Bowling Green. With all that being said, there is still plenty to play for this season. Wins over Iowa and Wisconsin could totally change the vibe of 2023. But that all would have to start this week against Louisiana. Following the Bowling Green loss, Minnesota took down Purdue 20-13 on the road in a monsoon, so these circumstances should be much different, but Saturday will set the tone for the rest of the season.

Louisiana Season Storylines:

  • Year 2 of the Michael Desormeaux-era

Head coach Billy Napier left Lafayette, Louisiana for the Florida Gators following the 2021 season, after three 10+ win seasons with Ragin’ Cajuns. Louisiana opted to promote within, as OC coordinator Michael Desormeaux was thrust into the interim role for the team’s 2021 Bowl Game. Shortly after, he was hired as the full-time head coach. Desormeaux, a New Iberia, Louisiana native was one of the best QBs in Ragin’ Cajuns program history, New Iberia, Louisiana passing for 3,893 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 2,843 yards and 16 scores in his career.

After winning the New Orleans Bowl in 2021 vs. Marshall, Desormeaux has led his alma mater to a 10-8 total record, and it looks like they have picked up right where they left off as one of the premier programs in the Sun Belt. They continue to recruit the state of Louisiana well and Desormeaux seems like he was more than the right hire.

  • Three-QB system?

Under Napier, Levi Lewis was one of the best QBs in program history amassing 84 total touchdowns across five seasons. Last season, Desormeaux attempted to use a two-QB system with Ben Wooldridge and Chandler Fields. This year redshirt freshman Zeon Chriss has seemed to have usurped Chandler Fields, while Ben Wooldridge remains a major part of the offense. Wooldridge has been the much better passer with 508 yards and a 5-1 TD: INT ratio, while Chriss has been a tremendous runner totaling 186 yards on the ground with 4 TDs. The old adage is, “If you have 2 QBs, you don’t have one,” but the system has seemed to work out well for the Ragin’ Cajuns so far this season.

  • 4th-best rushing offense in College Football:

Louisiana has run for 238 rushing yards per game this season, ranking fourth-best in FBS. While Zeon Chriss has been one of the better-rushing QBs in the sport, Jacob Kibodi has been a high-level RB, averaging 77.8 yards per game this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns were a dominant running team under Napier led by Elijah Mitchell and it seems like under Desormeaux it is much of the same. The Gophers rank as the 44th-best run defense in college football allowing 114.8 rushing yards per game, this will be a key matchup Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Gophers’ path to victory:

Saturday will be a very important game in P.J. Fleck’s career as the Gophers head coach. Two years ago he led the Gophers to a very impressive showing on the road at Purdue following the Bowling Green loss and there is no reason why he cannot do the same this Saturday. On a bigger scale, I think this game can be a serious inflection point in Fleck’s tenure with the program. Louisiana lost to Old Dominion on the road and they’ve allowed 38 points in two of their games, so they are to be had. If the Gophers go out and impose their will on this Louisiana team, could would be a major statement for this program.

We all know how important it is for the Gophers to finally get Athan Kaliakmanis and this passing game going, but I think big plays will be the key to this game. For as much as it’s possible for Minnesota to win this game by 2+ touchdowns, it is also quite possible for Louisiana to stick around in a gross one. Big plays will be the differentiating factor in this game. If you look at recent blowout wins like MSU, Colorado, or Indiana one thing that sticks true is big plays.

Louisiana is a talented team that will likely play in a bowl game this season and it my opinion, I think they’re a better football team than Northwestern. I sure wish and hope that Minnesota can get back on track in this game, but unfortunately, they’ve shown me nothing this season to think that will happen. I still believe that Fleck and the Gophers will have enough to get the win, but I think it will be another gross 27-18 victory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *