Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football: 5 things to know about Louisiana

Rajin' Cajuns should provide Cyclones season-opening challenge

Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Levi Lewis (1) talks to head coach Billy Napier on the sidelines during the second half
Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Levi Lewis (1) talks to head coach Billy Napier on the sidelines during the second half of a game against Mississippi State last August in New Orleans. Lewis passed for 3.050 yards in 2019. (Associated Press)

AMES — Louisiana isn’t a typical first-game-of-the-season easy win most Power-5 football teams like to schedule.

Here are five things to know about the Ragin’ Cajuns, who visit Iowa State at 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN).

1. Lights out Levi Lewis

The Ragin’ Cajuns are for real and are led by a senior quarterback who was named the Sun Belt preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Last season, Levi Lewis completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,050 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also threw just four interceptions all season.

He led Louisiana to an 11-3 record, including a LendingTree Bowl win against Miami (Ohio).

During Monday’s Big 12’s teleconference, Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said Lewis will be one of the best quarterbacks Iowa State plays all season.

Along with his prolific passing ability, Lewis is able to keep defenses honest using his feet. Not accounting for sacks, he gained 354 yards on the ground last season and had three rushing touchdowns.

2. Two-headed attack

As if Lewis wasn’t enough for a defense to deal with, Louisiana also boasts two highly productive running backs.

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Elijah Mitchell is a two-time second-team all-Sun Belt running back. He rushed for 1,147 yards and 16 touchdowns on 198 carries last season.

While Mitchell is obviously a productive running back, one of his better attributes is that he almost never gets stopped behind the line of scrimmage. He only lost 10 yards in 2019. For comparison, Iowa State’s Breece Hall lost 59 yards last fall.

The second piece to the Ragin’ Cajuns’ running back puzzle is Trey Ragas. Ragas had 116 rushing attempts last season for 820 yards and 11 touchdowns. Like Mitchell, Ragas almost never gets tackled behind the line, losing just 16 yards last season.

3. proven credentials

Billy Napier is in his third season as the Ragin’ Cajuns’ coach and in his first two years, he’s already led Louisiana to two Sun Belt Conference Championships and two bowl games.

On paper, his third year shouldn’t be much different with the proven talent and players he has returning.

Napier has been an assistant coach at a number of high-level college football programs. He started as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 2003 and 2004 before he took the South Carolina State quarterbacks coach position in 2005. From 2006-2010, he was back at Clemson, where he was the offensive coordinator his final two years there. After a brief stint as Colorado State’s quarterback coach, Napier was Alabama’s receivers coach from 2013-17.

The season before he got hired at Louisiana, he was Arizona State’s offensive coordinator.

4. Ragin’ Cajun origin

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette was founded in 1901 and was originally Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute. SLII’s nickname was the Bulldogs. Which is exceedingly boring — currently 15 Division I schools have the Bulldogs as a mascot.

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In 1963, then-football coach Ross Faulkinberry changed the nickname of the football team from Bulldogs to Raging Cajuns. The nickname became official in 1974. In 1984, it was shortened to Ragin’ Cajuns.

5. All-Cajun name team

Louisiana got the nickname Ragin’ Cajun thanks to Layafette’s heavily populated Cajun and Louisiana Creole population.

Below is the first-team all-Cajun name list from the Louisiana roster. The qualifications required to make it on the first-team all-Cajun name is to have a last name that ends in “eaux” and be from Louisiana.

First team — Paul Boudreaux, long snapper, Harahan; Jourdan Quibodeaux, linebacker, Lafayette.

The qualification for the second team is to have a French-sounding last name and be from Louisiana or have an “eaux” at the end of the name and not be from Louisiana.

Second team — Hunter Bergeron, tight end, Lafayette; Rhett Guidry, tight end, Baton Rouge; Tyler Guidry, linebacker, Baton Rouge; Peter LeBlanc, receiver, New Iberia; Mason Narcisse, defensive line, Reserve; Kam Pedescleaux, safety, Houston, Texas; Kyle Pierre, linebacker, Lafayette; Cole Prudhomme, offensive line, Eunice; Bralen Trahan, safety, Lafayette.

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