LAFAYETTE — Make no mistake, Louisiana-Lafayette wide receivers aren’t upset that the Cajuns running game has found its stride.
When the Cajuns were running for a season-high 419 yards, a 7.5-yard average, and scored eight rushing touchdowns in Tuesday’s 55-40 win over Arkansas State, James Butler was cheering them on.
“I know teams are gonna prepare for us for the run,” the senior wide receiver said Monday. “That will open up the pass eventually. But we’re winning by running the ball, so I’m all for ‘Let’s continue to run it if we’re winning.’ That’s the most important thing. I’ll block a hundred times a game if we’re winning.”
Butler had one catch against the Red Wolves, albeit a big 34-yarder that set up a touchdown after Arkansas State had taken a 6-0 lead. Terrance Broadway threw only 17 times in the game, completing nine, but the Cajuns were running so effectively that the aerial game wasn’t as needed.
Butler said it was the UL-Lafayette offensive line that made the difference.
“You can watch them in games and just tell,” he said. “It takes a while for the O-line to jell, and they have certainly jelled.”
The Cajuns (4-3, 3-0) hope for more jelling in Saturday’s homecoming game against South Alabama. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. for the only afternoon home game of the season, although the time for the Nov. 22 home finale vs. Appalachian State has not been set.
Coach Mark Hudspeth said the team took a good first step toward the weekend with its Sunday workout after off days Friday and Saturday.
“We had a bonus practice on Thursday, and we got caught up on some rest,” he said. “(Sunday) we looked as fresh at this point as any point in the season.”
Hudspeth said junior tackle Mykhael Quave is expected to return to full-speed practice Tuesday after leaving the Arkansas State game in the final minute with a knee injury.
Sophomore backup defensive tackle Remaine Douglas will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered against the Red Wolves. An MRI exam last week showed that surgery will be needed after he suffered a noncontact injury when reversing course in pursuit Tuesday. Douglas made the second start of his career against the Wolves.
Players of the Week
Sophomore running back Elijah McGuire and senior punter Daniel Cadona were picked as Offensive and Special Teams Players of the Week in the Sun Belt Conference.
McGuire rushed for a career-high 265 yards and four touchdowns, scoring on 74 and 13-yard runs in the second quarter and adding TD runs of 43 and 54 yards in the final 3:30. His yardage total was the third-highest in school history behind Tyrell Fenroy (297 yards against UL-Monroe in 2008) and quarterback Brian Mitchell (271 yards vs. Colorado State in 1987). McGuire leads the nation in yards per carry with a 9.43 average.
Cadona averaged 45.0 yards on six punts against Arkansas State, but more importantly five of his six punts were killed inside the Red Wolves’ 13-yard line and four inside the 10. He did not have a touchback, and Arkansas State had a net of minus-1 yard on punt returns.
Cadona is second in the Sun Belt and 15th nationally with a 44.8-yard average.
Hudspeth said he’s not concerned with the week’s homecoming distractions, even though he’s anticipating a raucous Cajun Field crowd.
“The alumni has their responsibility this week to go to the events,” he said. “The students are responsible for putting on a lot of those events and doing everything on campus. The football team’s job during homecoming is to win the game. That’s the only responsibility we have.”
Despite the expected drop-off for the Tuesday game, the Cajuns are averaging 27,038 fans after four home games.
“This is a big one,” Hudspeth said. “With us unbeaten (in the Sun Belt) and trying to win four straight, and (South Alabama) one win from being bowl eligible, with everyone getting to see the new stadium improvements, I think it could be one of the liveliest atmospheres we’ve had at Cajun Field in a while.”