LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette football team enjoyed its most complete effort on third down of the season Saturday against Texas State, converting on 9 of 15 attempts while limiting the Bobcats to a 4-of-15 success rate.
Break down how the Ragin’ Cajuns got there, and it becomes clear how they did it.
Offensively, the Cajuns only needed 7 or more yards on three of those 15 third downs, and they never needed more than 9 yards to convert.
Everything else was kept manageable. The Cajuns faced third-and-3 or shorter on seven occasions, converting four of them.
The team actually got off to a slow start on third-down conversions, only converting on one of their first six. But they came through on eight of their last nine.
The key was quarterback Jalen Nixon, who came into the game having converted a third down on just two of his 13 attempts through the air.
Without having to go a long distance to move the chains, Nixon was lethal. He was 4-for-5 through the air on third down, with all four of those completions moving the chains.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, played well behind the sticks all night. Only three of their 15 attempts on third down needed 3 or fewer yards, while nine required 7 or more to convert, including five when they needed 10 or more yards.
Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones struggled mightily on third down, completing just 3 of 10 while also taking a sack.
He said it
Jamal Robinson was slow to get up when he slipped while celebrating his second touchdown catch Saturday.
The receiver earned an extra year of eligibility after missing most of last year to injury, so he was asked after the game whether he was momentarily worried.
Nope, nothing serious.
“I just landed on my butt cheek,” he said.
Texas State’s Jones had arguably the worst passing performance of his career Saturday.
Jones completed just 13 of 33 attempts — a career-low 39.4 percentage — while being held to just 178 yards through the air. At one point, he fired 12 consecutive incompletions.
He missed a couple of throws he would like to have back, but it wasn’t as if the Cajuns fared so well against a hack. Jones came into the game ranked in the top 15 nationally and leading the Sun Belt in completion percentage (68.2), to go with 244.5 passing yards per game.
The Cajuns ran 82 offensive plays Saturday, the most since they ran 88 plays at Kentucky in the season opener. … How strange was it to see back-to-back kickoff return touchdowns? Coming into the game, the entire Sun Belt had combined for one kick return touchdown this season, and the league had two (both from Troy) in the entire 2014 season. … The Cajuns finished with a positive turnover margin (plus-1) for the first time since last year’s regular-season finale against Troy.