LAFAYETTE — As it turns out, an off year by Elijah McGuire’s standards is pretty solid when it comes to Louisiana-Lafayette standards.
With an 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, McGuire topped 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season. He finished with 75 rushing yards in the game to give him 1,047 on the year, the seventh-best single season total in school history. His touchdown run gave him 16, the third-best single season total in school history.
“He’s sort of spoiled us the last couple years,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Our expectations have gotten really high for Eli. It’s unfair to him sometimes.”
Hudspeth pulled McGuire in the fourth quarter after the game was virtually decided, using seniors Torrey Pierce, Effrem Reed and Montrel Carter in his place.
McGuire acknowledged after the game that it was a tough season for him. In his first two seasons, Alonzo Harris took much of the burden off him, allowing him to create on the perimeter while Harris worked tough yards up the middle of the field.
As the No. 1 option this year, teams almost exclusively focused on taking him out of the game. The result was a successful year by most standards, and a subpar one by McGuire’s high standards.
“With Alonzo gone, it ain’t the same as last year,” McGuire said. “Everybody just keyed in on me and stacked the box. I did what I could, the (offensive line) did what they could.”
McGuire also battled various physical ailments.
“He was asked to do a lot, he played injured, and I gave him credit, he gave everything he had and kept such a great attitude,” Hudspeth said.
Junior defensive back Jeryl Brazil was suspended for the finale for a violation of team rules, Hudspeth said.
It was the second straight game Brazil missed because of suspension, and his status with the team is up in the air.
“His status on the team will be evaluated in the coming weeks,” Hudspeth said.
With sophomore D’Aquin Withrow unable to perform at his usual level because of a turf toe injury, the Cajuns were once again forced to mix and match their offensive line to get their best five on the field.
Grant Horst, who has started games at four offensive line positions this season, moved back to left tackle, and Adrian Goodacre moved into the lineup at right guard.
That gave the Cajuns their seventh starting combination on the offensive line in 11 games, and their fourth in their past four games.
For some perspective, the Cajuns used four starting combinations in the four previous seasons combined.
A valiant effort
Jamal Robinson spent the majority of the week in a walking boot but suited up for his final game in a Cajuns uniform. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish it in uniform.
“He tried to go,” Hudspeth said. “As the game wore on, it got worse and worse to where he couldn’t go. Give the guy credit, he wanted to be out there. He gave us all he had. He just went ’til it wouldn’t go anymore.”
Robinson was ruled out for the game after halftime. He caught two passes for 17 yards in the first half, which allowed him to match his single-season high in pass receptions with 54.
A first in the last
Kicker Carlos Alvarez, one of the 18 seniors who were honored as part of Senior Day, enjoyed a career first Saturday in his last game as a Cajun.
With usual starter Stevie Artigue out, the kicking duties were entrusted entirely to Alvarez, and he responded by making a pair of extra points and a 41-yard field goal.
Alvarez had never kicked as much as an extra point before Saturday. All of his previous action had been as a kickoff specialist.