Ragin’ Cajuns’ motivation: Get hard-earned sacks at New Mexico State _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth

1. JUST RUN, BABY The Aggies come into the game with the worst run defense in the FBS, giving up an average — yes, an average — of 324.7 yards per game. The Cajuns may be short-handed at running back, considering Alonzo Harris’ lingering soreness and Torrey Pierce’s season-ending injury a few weeks back, but they do have a guy named Elijah McGuire in their backfield. We’ve heard he’s pretty good. As good as McGuire may be, coach Mark Hudspeth said he’s got to watch how much work he’s giving his star sophomore running back. He shouldn’t need too many opportunities Saturday.

2. SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE Speaking of being ranked dead last among FBS teams, the Aggies find themselves achieving that dubious mark twice this season. They’ve committed 26 turnovers this season, which is four more than the next worst FBS school (Texas Tech). The good news for New Mexico State? The Cajuns come into the game having forced just five turnovers this season, which ties with SMU for being the most inept turnover-forcing team in the FBS. The Cajuns have been better at forcing turnovers lately, but they have to make plays when the opportunity presents itself.

3. DOUBLE TROUBLE The Cajuns had to prepare for two different signal callers, as the Aggies have used both Tyler Rodgers and Andrew Allen this season. Rodgers plays the vast majority of the snaps, and has accounted for 327 of the Aggies 343 pass attempts (95 percent), but Allen has given the Aggies a bit of a dual-threat presence. He gashed the LSU defense for a 79-yarder earlier this season (the longest rushing play given up by the Tigers all year). It’s not a true two-quarterback system, as Allen didn’t play in two games, but it’s something else the Cajuns have to keep in mind.

4. NOT THIS TIME The Cajuns came out sleeping in last year’s game against New Mexico State and nearly got run out of their own home stadium. Players acknowledged that they took the Aggies and their 1-7 record at the time lightly. The situation isn’t much different this time around, as the Aggies have lost seven straight, but the Cajuns are saying they won’t take New Mexico State lightly this time around. By all accounts, they meant it. Hudspeth walked into one post-practice media session and, un-prompted, started gushing about how great his team looked in practice. If the Cajuns are focused and playing like they’re capable, they should win their fifth straight game.