The University of Louisiana at Lafayette got off to a great start Saturday with a 45-6 beat down of in-state opponent Southern.
It wasn’t a perfect beginning by any stretch of the imagination, but Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth is probably happier that way. He and his staff will have plenty to work on as the Cajuns prepare for Louisiana Tech next week, and for any players on the team who were buying in to the outside hype, Hudspeth will have plenty of examples as to why there’s still work that needs to be done.
That being said, there isn’t much to complain about one week through the season. Here’s how the Cajuns’ season-opening performance graded out in our estimation:
Terrance Broadway had a few throws he wished he could have back, and there were a couple of throws on which Broadway was the beneficiary of great plays by his receiving corps. But for the most part, Broadway’s throws were on target and he made solid decisions with the football. His throw to sophomore receiver Jared Johnson on a back-shoulder fade in the end zone was perfect. This wasn’t Broadway’s best game, but he’s held to a higher standard than most. Hudspeth will take four touchdowns any day. Backup Brooks Haack looked sharp in his one quarter, going 4-for-4 for 27 yards and a score. A successful night, but they can do better. GRADE: B
Elijah McGuire showed of his trademark burst and agility on his last carry of the game, a 46-yard scamper that he nearly broke for a touchdown. McGuire burst through the hole, shimmied in the middle of the field and found a cutback lane where no Jaguars could be found. That gave him 129 yards, showing he is primed to top his freshman year. Alonzo Harris had a bit of a disappointing night statistically, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, but those were all hard-earned yards. The Cajuns are going to need more from him as the season progresses. GRADE: B
Wide receivers/tight ends
Jamal Robinson is a freak. He made a few catches Saturday night that only a handful of people on the planet could make. He had five grabs for 112 yards and a pair of scores, and a couple of his grabs were schoolyard types of plays where Broadway just threw it up in the air and let Robinson go get it. What a fun performance that was to watch. For one night at least, Jared Johnson was exactly what the coaching staff hoped he would be, using his 6-foot-5 frame to snag a fade in the end zone. Larry Pettis caught his first touchdown in three years. The only disappointments were two drops by Matt Barnes, who lost some ground to true freshman Gabe Fuselier for future playing time. GRADE: A
Like Broadway’s evaluation earlier, this group has had better days, but came through with a performance that helped deliver a win. Broadway spent most of his night with a clean pocket to work in, and running backs rarely had to make a man miss behind the line of scrimmage. New starting center Terry Johnson got through the night without a hiccup. Not a dominant night, not the unit’s best night, but a good place to start. GRADE: B
The Southern quarterback spent most of their first half being terrorized by the Cajuns’ defensive line, which is exactly what Hudspeth wanted to happen. Young quarterbacks tend to struggle in the face of pressure, and the Cajuns were able to bring it without sending extra players. Christian Ringo had a tremendous first quarter, with four tackles and a tackle for loss. The second unit got plenty of playing time as well, and Jacoby Briscoe stoned a Southern fourth-and-short. A good night for the Cajuns’ defensive line. GRADE: A-
This unit got to show off its depth, as projected starters Jake Molbert (illness) and Chris Hill (academics) were unavailable. Senior Trae Johnson, who lost a fall camp competition for a starting middle linebacker spot, led the team with eight tackles, seven of which were solo. Tyren Alexander started in place of Molbert and struggled a bit, but senior Boris Anyama replaced him and shined with five tackles and a forced fumble. Kevin Fouquier also had a nice night with five solo tackles, and Dominique Tovell had a nice play in the Southern backfield. GRADE: A-
Southern’s No. 2 quarterback Austin Howard came in and threw for 181 yards, with 124 of those yards coming in the second half. That’s not an awful statistical performance, but it gives the Cajuns something to work toward. The Jaguars tested Dominick Jones often and Jones, a first-year starter, responded nicely. GRADE: B
There was some good, some bad and some mediocre. This was a somewhat up and down night, though it was mostly up. Daniel Cadona drilled a 77-yard Aussie-style punt that might have gone for 100 yards if it was allowed to roll out, but it rolled through the end zone for a touchback. Hunter Stover drilled his only field goal, a 31-yarder, but also kicked two kickoffs out of bounds. That needs to be cleared up. The return game never got a chance to get going, mainly because Southern’s specialists couldn’t get much juice on their kicks. GRADE: B-