LAFAYETTE — Despite a heartbreaking 37-34 loss to New Mexico State Saturday, UL-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire got of a three-game funk.
McGuire was explosive on touchdown runs of 64 and 27 yards — his first two of runs of more than 25 yards since Week 2 against Northwestern State. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry — his first average of more than 3.5 yards per carry since Oct. 10 against Texas State.
His 164 yards were just 6 yards shy of his season high. McGuire said despite struggling over the past four games, he never got impatient.
“I always tell myself to be patient,” McGuire said. “I never rush the game. I let it come to me and I always hope things go well. Tonight was one of those nights when the game came to me.”
Cajuns coach Mark Hudpseth said getting McGuire going always gives his team a chance to win.
“When he plays well, we are scoring points,” Hudspeth said. “When he is getting yards and he is involved in the offense, we tend to do well. When he’s not, we don’t. When you have a great player like that and he does well, it lifts your football team.”
Hudspeth said he felt like McGuire and the offense, which gained 475 yards from scrimmage, gave them a lot of momentum.
McGuire is beginning to show those flashes that the Cajuns are used to seeing, Hudspeth said.
“I think he is doing this (like) we have all known he can do,” the coach said. “It seemed like he was back to Eli. On those long runs, guys had angles on him and he still pulled away. He turned some plays where nothing was there and he turned them into something.”
McGuire said he owes those long runs to running backs coach Marquase Lovings.
“I follow coach Lovings’ coaching points: pressing the line of scrimmage and pressing the center and making big plays,” McGuire said. “I had a couple of those tonight where I was making defenders miss and winning one-on-ones and taking it to the house.”
McGuire’s big night was in concert with wide receiver Jamal Robinson, who had 12 catches for 183 yards.
When those big nights come in defeat, it is frustrating, McGuire said.
McGuire said if the Cajuns are to win two upcoming games against Appalachian State and Troy, they’ll have to get more big plays — and they can’t all come from McGuire and Robinson.
“(New Mexico State’s) defense gave us way too many opportunities and we have to take advantage of them,” McGuire said. “We have a lot of playmakers on this team. Just two people can’t get the job done. We have to spread the ball around and it’s all about communication and working hard.
“It’s tough right now. We have to come out and work hard, execute and carry it over to the game. We need to get these wins. We can’t say for sure that we will win, but we have to have a great week of practice. Everyone has to do their job for us to come out on top.”