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Opposing Player to Watch vs. UL-Lafayette: Elijah Mitchell

The Cyclones will have to watch out for Elijah Mitchell in week one.

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The Ragin’ Cajuns come into Ames with the sixth ranked rushing attack in the entire country (257.4 PG) a season ago. Last season, their backfield was a three headed monster with three backs amassing 800+ rushing yards on the season, but one back in particular stood out. Elijah Mitchell carried Louisiana-Lafayette to 11 wins last season with a team high 1,147 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. Mitchell enters his senior season with tremendous expectations landing on the preseason All-Sun Belt first team and the Doak Walker Award (nation’s top RB) watch list.

Louisiana Lafayette's offense moved with the success of Mitchell last season. 14 of the talented back’s 16 touchdowns came in wins, while he also averaged 61.4 rushing yards in losses compared to 96.3 in wins. It is pretty clear that Ragin’ Cajun’s success is directly tied to their star back Elijah Mitchell’s success. In Mitchell’s poor games last season, which were ULL losses he struggled against top-60 run defenses Mississippi State and Appalachian State. Those were the two best run defenses that Louisiana-Lafayette faced all season.

If Iowa State would like to roll over the Ragin’ Cajuns this Saturday they will have to slow down Mitchell and their rushing attack plain and simple. Last season John Heacock’s defense was above average against the run, as they only allowed 139.5 yards on the ground per contest putting themselves top 50 in the country. To begin the year the Cyclone’s run-d was stout, but to close out 2019 they struggle mightily getting gashed by Kansas State and Notre Dame eventually leading to two blowout losses.

If the Cyclones are able to take care of business against a very talented Louisiana Lafayette team it will come down to their play in the trenches, which will start and finish with slowing down Elijah Mitchell.