Photos: Kentucky slips by the Cajuns late in entertaining game _lowres

Advocate photo by BRAD KEMP -- Louisiana-Lafayette's Troy McCollum brings down Kentucky wide receiver Dorian Baker with help from Zachary DeGrange during their game at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday in Lexington, Ky.

1. WHAT WE LEARNED

Two things. First, the Cajuns showed a lot of heart in fighting back from a 27-7 deficit to tie the score in the fourth quarter. Don’t lose sight of the fact that this was an inexperienced team playing in hostile Southeastern Conference territory. They had every reason to fold and instead rose to the challenge. They should be applauded for that. Second, the Cajuns pass defense needs a lot of work. Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles went bombs away against the Cajuns secondary early, frequently lobbing the ball deep down the sidelines to receivers who had gotten behind the secondary. At first glance, it didn’t appear that the Wildcats receivers were using any double moves or deception; they were simply running past the Cajuns corners. Things should get better when Simeon Thomas returns and when the quality of competition goes down, but it was a disconcerting effort.

2. TRENDING NOW

Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth stayed true to his word and did not name a starter at quarterback until his team came out for its first offensive series. But the final decision was not a surprise. As many anticipated, Brooks Haack started and played the majority of the game behind center. His nerves showed early, as many of his first six attempts sailed high, but he settled in after that and finished with a solid first start. Haack had 194 yards through the air and another 14 on the ground with a score. But Jalen Nixon engineered the comeback, running for 37 yards on five carries (including a couple crucial short yardage conversions) while completing all four of his pass attempts. A decision on a starter should still be up in the air for next week’s game against Northwestern State.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

Left for dead midway through the third quarter, the Cajuns roared to life and forced Kentucky to score a last-minute touchdown to win it. A loss is still a loss, but this one should give this young Cajuns team a lot of confidence as the season unfolds. The first half was ugly — on defense and on offense,where a couple costly penalties and turnovers were probably the difference in the game, but there is so much for them to build upon after they fought back the way they did.