The open week effect wasn’t lost on Ragin’ Cajuns senior quarterback Terrance Broadway as he answered questions following a light practice Tuesday evening.
“We’d still be out there right now,” Broadway said.
Tuesdays are normally the Cajuns’ longest practice of the week, but without a game to prepare for this weekend the players spent roughly an hour going through an easy practice on the turf at Cajun Field. After a brutal 1-3 start, the Cajuns’ off week is just about perfectly timed.
There’s no need for the Cajuns to beat themselves into the dirt. This week is all about allowing the team to recover and re-group, both mentally and physically.
“(The open week) couldn’t come at a better time,” said Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth. “It’ll be beneficial for a lot of reasons.”
Chief among those reasons being player health, as Hudspeth’s squad has taken a beating in recent weeks.
Running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris have both dealt with nagging injuries and both spent all of last week wearing non-contact uniforms to help recover from a tough game against Ole Miss.
The Cajuns have also missed playmaking wide receiver Jamal Robinson for two and a half weeks, played without leading tackler Trae Johnson against Boise State and have seen limited impact from projected starters Jake Molbert and Marquis White, both of whom have been limited by injuries.
“Is that the entire reason that we haven’t gotten off to a good start?” Hudspeth asked rhetorically. “No, but obviously that doesn’t help either.”
Normally, the team would already have compartmentalized the loss and dissected what went wrong in that specific instance. As Hudspeth put it, on a week-to-week basis “you’re just trying to plug holes in the dam.”
Now Hudspeth and his staff have time to look back at the previous four weeks and analyze them fully. What went right? What went wrong? It allows the team more time to focus on itself and what needs to be fixed, rather than focusing on the opponent. Rather than plugging leaks, the team can attempt to fix cracks in the foundation.
“Now we’ve got two weeks to sit back, evaluate, make some corrections, make some adjustments and see if we think any other players can help us,” Hudspeth said. “See if we think a couple tweaks to our scheme can help us.”
But a little time away isn’t always appreciated.
Broadway is looking forward to having his top weapon back at full health, and knows the time off will give him a better shot of getting back on the field the next time they play. But he’s not a fan of spending his Saturday in front of a TV rather than on the field.
“Bye weeks are good and bad,” Broadway said. “When you’re coming off a three-game losing streak as we are, as players you want to get back on the field as soon as possible just to get the ball rolling. … We’ll be watching college football this weekend and just wishing we were playing at that moment.”
The Cajuns have fared fairly well coming off bye weeks during Hudspeth’s tenure.
In 2011, the Cajuns jumped out to an early lead against Arizona and hung with them by scoring 21 fourth-quarter points. In 2012, they thumped Florida International 48-20, then beat Texas State by an identical score coming off a bye last year.
The only instance where the Cajuns didn’t play well coming off a bye was last year against ULM, when Broadway threw three interceptions before getting injured in a 31-28 loss.
Who knows? Maybe the well-timed bye week will be all the Cajuns need to turn their season around.
“Our back is against the wall right now. It’s up to us to change this thing around,” McGuire said. “Getting a win at home in the conference opener, it’ll spark the second half of our season and get us going again.”