Thoughts on UL/Texas State – From The Bird’s Nest
After having a day to ponder what we saw Tuesday night in San Marcos, here are my thoughts.
Well, first and foremost, this is two straight weeks where Terrance Broadway has looked like an all conference quarterback. Broadway has rushed 24 times for 138 yards (5.8 avg). He’s also completed 34-47 passes (72.3%) for 441 yards and three touchdowns. That’s 579 yards in total offense in the last three games, a passer rating of roughly 167.00 and very few mistakes. That’s winning football. And, that’s the guy that was named preseason offensive player of the year in the league. For at least the past two weeks, Broadway is back. Only the biggest (and most unreasonable) critics can find fault in what we’ve seen in the two league games.
And, Broadway continued to be successful, even without Jamal Robinson. The Cajuns’ best receiver went out early Tuesday with an injury. Broadway looked lost earlier in the season without Robinson. The Cajuns’ offense continued to click in his absence this time around.
Alonzo Harris just keeps rolling. The Cajuns’ big back moved into third place all time in rushing for a career, passing Michael Desormeaux. Harris still has a shot at catching Brian Mitchell for second place. Tuesday night, ‘Zo had 89 yards on 18 carries and was not stopped for a loss on any of those eighteen carries. He’s simply one of the best between the tackles runners the Cajuns have ever had.
And, I’ve decided there are no words to describe Elijah McGuire. He’s a terrific receiver, a solid punt returner and does a better job of making people miss since, well, Mitchell. But McGuire has some skills that no one else has. His touchdown run Tuesday night made the top ten of Sportscenter plays, and with good reason.
Christian Ringo made a case to be named defensive player of the week in the Sun Belt. He’s simply perhaps the best defensive lineman in the Sun Belt. He had three TFL including two sacks and the 41 yard fumble return for the first defensive touchdown for the Cajuns this season.
Now, I’m not smart enough to know whether Matt Wallerstedt’s presence was THEE reason the Cajuns’ defense was so good Tuesday night, but I’m smart enough to know he made a contribution. The Cajuns had a great game plan, and great execution. The lineup changes the Cajuns made for this game made them a better defensive football team. They played with confidence, turned the Bobcats over twice and completely shut down the Texas State running game, which, honestly, I didn’t think they could do.
But, all is not terrific. There are real concerns with the consistency of the Cajun’s kicking game. There was a time when special teams were a weapon for this team. Not this year. Hunter Stover has missed a couple of extra points and a couple of field goals (though the miss Tuesday can be chalked up to a bad snap.) Daniel Cadona has been a good punter, but he shanked another one Tuesday night. And, the Cajuns kick return team continues to struggle. On a brighter note, the Cajuns cover teams have been pretty solid. But overall, this part of the Cajuns’ team hasn’t been solid or consistent. And, when they play teams that have an advantage in this department, it could be the difference between winning and losing.
This team is 3-3. We hoped at this time they’d be no worse than 4-2. But it looks like this team is headed in the right direction…and just in time. But they need Robinson back (and losing Torrey Pierce Tuesday night was a heartbreaker). Mark Hudspeth’s teams the first three seasons were relatively injury free. This year it hasn’t been that way. And, while we all talk about overcoming injuries, there are only so many you can suffer before your team really suffers. Trev Patt did not play Tuesday. The good news is the Cajuns’ linebacker corps is getting healthier.
I really believed Tuesday night’s game against Texas State was the most important game of the season, and not just because it was the next game. A loss could have hurt this team the rest of the season. And, they probably wouldn’t have been able to recover in time for Arkansas State’s visit to Cajun Field next Tuesday night.
Whether the Cajuns are good enough to beat the Red Wolves next Tuesday remains to be seen. But one thing is certain.
This team is a lot better equipped to handle the challenge than they were before Tuesday.