Homecoming not impressive but victorious
When the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns went into their locker room during halftime Saturday, it wasn’t under the best circumstances. It looked as if the Cajuns, down by two touchdowns, could possibly lose their homecoming game to the weak New Mexico State Aggies, in front of a packed house no less.
Surely many of the Cajun faithful were hoping that University of Louisiana at Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth was delivering some fiery, impassioned, Eric Taylor-esque speech to his team — something to stir the defense into stopping the Aggies from marching down the field every possession. Some genius adjustment would have to be made that would totally upset New Mexico State’s groove.
In reality, though, the Cajuns did none of that. They stuck to their guns and grinded out a win.
“I don’t know about the defense, but we didn’t have no adjustments at all,” said quarterback Terrance Broadway, who threw for 231 yards and one touchdown. “We came back, and we did the same things that we did all week in practice. Everything we had seen on film was there. We just weren’t executing. It’s just simple as that. We (weren’t) executing well in the first half, and coach (Jay) Johnson came up to me and (said), ‘We’re not making adjustments in the second half.’”
In fact, the Cajuns’ win can be attributed to a few fundamentals that Hudspeth was able to bring out of his team in the second half.
The rushing unit, for example, provided six touchdowns and 209 yards throughout the game. Junior running back Alonzo Harris, who is now third in UL Lafayette history in career touchdowns behind Tyrell Fenroy and Brian Mitchell, was largely responsible for the offensive revival of the second half, putting up four touchdowns in the last 30 minutes alone.
“It makes it easier on the pass game for us,” said Broadway. “When you’ve got a running back that’s running like that and an offensive line that’s blocking like that, we’re throwing to pretty much open guys on the outside because it gives us one-on-one coverage.”
The increased offensive output of the second half would be for naught, though, if it weren’t for the turnaround of the Cajuns defense.
“It was just a slow start,” said running back Alonzo Harris. “Usually it’s us to start slow, but it was the defense tonight. But they did pick it up tremendously.”
“It was all about weathering the storm,” agreed linebacker Dominique Tovell, who put consistent pressure on New Mexico State quarterback Andrew McDonald. “It just took us a little while to get going on defense.”
In the end, there was no magic cure for the Cajuns. They were simply not executing the way they should have, and that’s OK. It’s when a team is not able to make those adjustments and changes that fans should begin to worry.
“My standpoint was, Hey, I’m gonna find out what you’re made of,” said Hudspeth. “(I) told you all week that this team is probably a little better than what we thought they would be, and now we’re faced with a little adversity. Now I want to see what you can do.”