The Texas Longhorns are heading into the 2021 regular season with a fresh start behind new head coach Steve Sarkisian and renewed expectations at their back.
In just over 6 days, Texas will open the season at home in front of a full crowd at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, where fans will get their first true look at Sarkian's new program.
It will be the third time the Longhorns and Ragin' Cajuns have faced off, with the Longhorns taking both of the first two matchups (2000 and 2005) by a margin of 112-13.
This, however, is a different Rajun Cajuns unit, led by head coach Billy Napier, who has his team positioned as a Group of 5 dark horse for the upcoming college football playoff.
Check out the first part of LonghornsCountry.com's way-too-early preview of Louisiana below:
2021 Record: 10-1 (7-1 Sun Belt)
Head coach: Billy Napier
Billy Napier is 28-11 in three seasons as the head coach of Louisiana
Offensive Set: Multiple
Defensive Set: 3-4
Returning starters on Offense: 10
Lousiana's offense is returning largely intact, behind star quarterback Levi Lewis, who returns for his third season as the starting quarterback. In fact, the lone position that does not return a starter is the running back spot, which will feature sophomore Chris Smith.
Projected starters on Offense:
QB Levi Lewis, Sr. (5'10, 184 lbs)*
RB Chris Smith, Soph. (5'9, 194)
WR Errol Rodgers Jr., Fr. (5'11, 197)*
WR Jalen Williams, Sr. (6'3, 218)*
WR Peter LeBlanc, So. (6'2, 190)*
TE Johnny Lumpkin, Jr. (6'6, 260)*
LT Max Mitchell, Jr. (6'6, 297)*
LG Ken Marks, Sr. (6'4, 308)*
C Shane Vallot, Jr. (6'0, 267)*
RG O'Cyrus Torrence, So. (6'5, 332)*
RT Carlos Rubio, Jr. (6'4, 296)*
* Denotes returning starters
Returning starters on Defense: 9
Texas' Defense Responds in Resounding Victory Over Rice
After a beatdown last week at the hands of Arkansas, the Longhorns were desperate for a bounce-back win against Rice
Similar to the offense, the Lousiana defense returns the vast majority of its starters, including three players with all-conference honors on a defense that gave up just 22.4 points per game in 2020.
Projected starters on Defense:
DE Zi'Yon Hill, Jr. (6'1, 283)*
NG Tayland Humphrey, Sr (6'5, 333)*
DE Andre Jones, Jr. (6'5, 244)*
LB Chauncey Manac, Sr. (6'3, 251)
LB Lorenzo McCaskill, Jr. (6'0, 233)*
LB Ferrod Gardner, Sr. (6'1, 220)*
LB/S Ja'len Johnson, Jr. (6'2, 208)*
CB Mekhi Garner, So. (6'2, 212)*
CB Eric Garror, Jr. (5'9, 176)*
S Percy Butler, Jr. (6'0, 190)*
S Bralen Trahan, Jr. (6'0, 191)
Newcomers to Know:
WR John Stephens Jr.
One of the top transfers in the Sun Belt Conference, the former TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver will get ample opportunity to crack the already deep receiver rotation. Stephens has 14 catches in 25 games in his career with TCU.
RB Chris Smith
After spending last season as the third option behind Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, Smith ran 62 times for 350 yards and one touchdown, while 16 passes for 170 yards and another score.
LB Chauncey Manac
A first-time starter as a senior, Manac will finally get his chance to show what he can do on the field for Lousiana. Manac had 31 total tackles, one interception, 5.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks last season.
S Bralen Trahan
Occupying one safety spot for the Ragin' Cajuns, Trahan will have his first opportunity to start next season, after finishing last year with 48 total tackles, four interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss, and nine pass breakups.
After facing off against the Longhorns, the Ragin' Cajuns will return home to face Nicholls state at their home stadium at Cajun Field in Lafayette, Lousiana.
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