LAFAYETTE — He’d just finished off the best game of his senior season, but UL-Lafayette running back Alonzo Harris wasn’t about to take all the credit for his 107 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 55-40 win against Arkansas State.
That went to the big uglies up front. Well, maybe “uglies” isn’t the right word.
“Nothing would have been possible, those yards would not have been made, without those beautiful guys up front,” Harris added. “Make them feel good: Yes, I said ‘beautiful.’ I love the guys up front.”
He has good reason to feel love. The Cajuns offensive line has been magnificent in recent weeks, culminating in a dominant performance against Arkansas State when they cleared holes for Cajuns backs to pick up 419 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
It’s evidence that a talented, experienced offensive line, which was already playing at a high level, is starting to work better together. In each of the Cajuns’ past three games — all wins — the team has rushed for at least 195 yards and two touchdowns as the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage.
The offensive line features four returning starters from a year ago, though only three of those four are playing the same position as last year.
Chemistry took a little while to build as senior center Terry Johnson, who switched positions from left guard in camp, learned the finer points of the position.
Johnson was replacing a three-year starter at center in Andre Huval.
“Even though the line was playing well, (Johnson) still wasn’t as comfortable as he is right now,” quarterback Terrance Broadway said. “He’s very confident in the system and he’s making all the calls and checks that we were accustomed to with Huval.”
Earlier in the year, Johnson — who made the switch from left guard to center in fall camp — said the unit was playing as five pennies when it needed to play as a nickel.
Now that they’ve had a chance to develop some chemistry, things are starting to fall into place.
“We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses ... we know how to help each other,” Johnson said. “It has become that one ‘nickel’ that we’ve been trying to get to. It took a while, but it’s there.”
And the scary thing, senior left guard Daniel Quave said, is that the line still feels like it has yet to play its best game.
“Right now, we’re playing as a nickel, yeah,” Quave said. “But it’s a dull nickel. We can still shine it up and make it more pretty.”
The Cajuns home finale against Appalachian State on Nov. 22 is officially set for 4 p.m., the school announced Tuesday.
It will be the first meeting between the Cajuns and Sun Belt Conference newcomer Appalachian State. The game will also serve as the Cajuns’ senior day and military appreciation day.
This weekend’s homecoming game against South Alabama will also kick off at 4 p.m.
Cajuns strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt is finally walking unimpeded. His right foot had been in a cast for a couple months, but it was removed Monday. ... Sophomore defensive back Dominick Jones has been taking reps at safety in practice. Jones started the first two games this year at cornerback.