In the preceding 4 seasons, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns have received the Sunlight Belt West Division title and skilled for the league’s championship sport.
In December, that accomplishment culminated with an undefeated league report and championship.
Amongst the a lot of losses for the Cajuns right after that 24-16 get above Appalachian Condition were mentor Billy Napier and longtime quarterback Levi Lewis.
In the minds of the other 6 West Division teams for the duration of the next day of Solar Belt Conference soccer media days Wednesday at the Sheraton Lodge in New Orleans, that indicates the West is huge open in 2022.
“Everyone talks about the SEC West and the SEC East, perfectly it is the same point,” Arkansas Condition coach Butch Jones claimed. “On our side, what makes it enjoyable is anybody and anyone has an prospect to end the season remaining a division champion.”
The Cajuns were being picked to gain a fifth straight title by the league’s coaches in the preseason poll, but senior linebacker Andre Jones mentioned previous achievement won’t imply anything.
“It does not genuinely issue what we did previous year,” Jones mentioned. “It’s what we’re likely to do this 12 months. We appreciate the respect, but we’ve received blinders on. We’re going to establish ourselves appropriate. We’re not worried about proving anyone else correct.”
Obtaining a new mentor in Michael Desormeaux provides the Cajuns a new supply of enthusiasm.
“I consider we have a culture of guys that like the function,” he stated. “We’re a chip-on-our-shoulder form of operation. The changes I imagine helped this group to refocus and acquire a chip.
”You do have men and women who are questioning a whole lot of matters about our staff and about our gamers. I tell them all the time, ‘We’ve obtained lots to go out there and participate in at a substantial degree.’ We just have to retain executing the get the job done and go do it.”
UL senior functioning back again Chris Smith stated the Cajuns’ focus won’t waver.
“The previous is the previous,” he mentioned. “Guess what, it’s a new time. Every day, we listen to any person heading to make a decision the Ragin’ Cajuns missing this piece or they dropped that piece, they are going to tumble off. I’ll explain to you, we’re going to come out, contend and do our best each individual and every day.”
So who are the possible challengers to the Cajuns in the West?
According to the preseason coaches poll, South Alabama tops that checklist. The Jaguars missed a area target in a 20-18 household reduction to the Cajuns very last period.
“I think this is a quite competitive aspect to the league,” next-calendar year South Alabama mentor Kane Wommack stated. “What Louisiana has accomplished on our side more than the final four many years has actually been huge. As we go ahead … I believe the enjoying industry is in a place wherever you’re heading to have to compete, and it will be really difficult to navigate week just after week in the time.”
Ending the year on a 4-activity getting rid of streak left the Jaguars at a irritating 5-7.
“From calendar year a person to yr two, we’ve improved in each individual place,” Wommack stated. “We just want to slender the margin of error so that we can work inside the margin of achievements.”
That implies lowering faults in the fourth quarter and capitalizing on scoring prospects. For instance, the Jaguars did not rating on 13 excursions to the red zone previous year.
“We have to create a operate game to be a consistent championship software,” Wommack reported. “I assume we have tackled some of individuals desires from a expertise viewpoint on the offensive line.”
In coach Jake Spavital’s fourth period at Texas State, he hopes the Bobcats are prepared to be that staff. They will rely on 10 players with higher education taking part in practical experience alongside the offensive line to block for a deep group of jogging backs.
“I believe we have acquired 5 managing backs that can add,” Spavital claimed.
Previous season, Texas State completed very last in the Sunshine Belt in turnover margin and 3rd-down conversions on defense, as well as ninth in go efficiency and eighth in move deficiency on protection.
“The invest in-in proper now is large for our little ones,” Spavital explained. “The following section is it has to truly show up on the industry. When you glimpse at the ins and outs of how we have lost online games in excess of the decades, a whole lot of it will come down to self-imposed penalties or just turnovers, and the effectiveness of what we’re undertaking offensively.
“That’s some thing that we place a large emphasis on, and that’s seeking to be extra economical offensively.”
Troy has a new head coach in Jon Sumrall — most recently the co-defensive coordinator at Kentucky — with hopes of returning the Trojans to previous glory.
Troy, which finished 5-7 last period after dropping its closing three games, has 12 league championships in its history, such as six in the Solar Belt.
“Personally for us as gamers, our key goal is to get Troy back to the place that it has a background of becoming,” senior offensive lineman Austin Stidham claimed. “That starts with us. It commences with the players.”
The Trojans experienced 4 preseason to start with-workforce gamers on offense in Stidham, receiver Tez Johnson, defensive lineman Will Choloh and linebacker Carlton Martial.
“We’re going to have an option on the field to establish the benefit of the Sunlight Belt West this season,” Sumrall stated. “I’m not true anxious about predictions. I’m a lot more concerned about how we’re heading to look at the conclusion.”
On paper, Arkansas Point out (2-10 very last 12 months) and UL-Monroe (4-8) are even more away from threatening the Cajuns. The Red Wolves are inexperienced, with 70% of their scholarship players possibly initial- or second-calendar year gamers with 14 transfers.
Jones reported enhancement begins with greater participant management.
“We wanted management,” he said. “One of the massive standards in the transfer portal was what did they bring in phrases of leadership. Make no mistake about it, we have to grow to be a substantially additional bodily and difficult soccer workforce.
“We experienced a team of Navy Seals occur in this offseason and expended time with our group about what it is to be a chief … what it is to be a superior teammate.”
Numerous felt coach Terry Bowden was getting on an unattainable work at UL-Monroe in 2021. The Warhawks were winless and did not direct in any games the past season.
Bowden’s bunch responded by successful 4 game titles and major in four other folks.
“They know what we’re likely to do offensively and defensively this yr,” Bowden claimed. “We’ve additional some children in the portal this calendar year, but we’re not dependent on them to make or break our group this year. Our staff is additional mature. We’ve just obtained to be a greater model of ourselves.”
Complicating year two was the reduction of six coaches, but Bowden feels he’s dealt with that with some aged close friends these kinds of as Vic Koennig at defensive coordinator.
“We’ve obtained to grow to be greater as a soccer workforce to exactly where we really don’t wander in there and come to feel like we have to enjoy over our heads to thrive,” Bowden mentioned.
Southern Mississippi is the new child on the block beneath former UL assistant coach Will Hall.
For the Eagles, the enjoy of freshman quarterback Ty Keys is vital after heading via six options there past time.
The Eagles performed with 62 scholarship gamers past time, but Hall’s workers included 26 new players.
“We just didn’t have enough,” he mentioned. “We were like a 3A school taking part in a 6A routine. Now we’re a 6A workforce. We’ve bought ample gamers and we’re enthusiastic likely into the year.”