MONROE — The Louisiana-Lafayette football team has now won six consecutive games, and the Ragin’ Cajuns have done it by executing the basic tenets of a traditional winning football team: Run the football well, hold on to the ball and take the ball away from the opponent.
During the streak, the Cajuns have rushed for at least 195 yards in every game, including four games with at least 240. The Cajuns topped 195 once during their 1-3 start — their season opener, which they won over Football Championship Subdivision squad Southern.
The Cajuns have only turned the ball over three times in their six-game winning streak, compared to 10 turnovers in their four nonconference games. A big part of that turnaround can be credited to quarterback Terrance Broadway’s improvement, which itself can be credited to the offense being able to operate normally.
Broadway threw seven interceptions in the first four games, five of which came when his team was trailing by 15 or more points.
With the Cajuns playing better team football, they have been able to set the pass up with the run rather than trying to get back into the game. It has resulted in Broadway completing 63 percent of his passes during the streak, with eight touchdowns against two interceptions.
But what has really made the streak possible has been the turnaround by the defense, specifically in the turnovers forced category.
The Cajuns are still giving up too many big plays at times — including seven completions that went for 20 or more yards Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, leading to inflated yardage totals. But they’ve created havoc when they’ve needed it in the form of turnovers.
After forcing three more turnovers Saturday, the Cajuns have now forced 11 during their winning streak, making them a rock-solid plus-8 in turnover margin the past six games. They forced just one turnover in their first four games, after which they were negative-9 in turnover margin.
On Saturday, UL-Monroe wised up pretty quickly when the Cajuns stuffed running back Centarius Donald for a loss of 6 yards on four first-quarter carries. The Warhawks weren’t going to get anywhere on the ground, so they might as well abandon it entirely.
The Warhawks dropped back to pass the ball 63 times compared to just 14 rushing plays.
The Cajuns sacked quarterback Pete Thomas seven times for a loss of 44 yards, and since college statistics count sacks as rushing plays, the Cajuns held the Warhawks to negative-39 rushing yards in the 34-27 win.
Light the Fuselier
The play that stood out most to coach Mark Hudspeth after the game was true freshman Gabe Fuselier’s 36-yard scoot down the sideline that gave the Cajuns a two-touchdown lead with 2:53 remaining.
In motion at the snap, Fuselier took a forward pitch from Broadway and used his speed to get to the edge. He raced around the corner and somehow stayed inbounds on his way to the end zone. The play was reviewed and upheld.
“We saw the Gabe Fuselier that we signed,” Hudspeth said. “That’s why we signed him — for that type of speed.”