LAFAYETTE — Even though it seemed nothing went right for UL-Lafayette in a 48-20 loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said he was satisfied with his team’s defensive performance in the first half.
UL-Lafayette went to the locker room trailing by 10 points, 17-7.
“The defense played well in the first half, and we didn’t help them at all on offense. We had the one busted play where they went 99 (yards), where we didn’t take our gap and they got their momentum going,” Hudspeth said, referring to Kenneth Dixon’s 99-yard touchdown run. “But the effort was there in the first half, and I thought we would come out and do a lot of the same things we had success with.”
The Cajuns, however, quickly went down 24-7 in the second half after a 78-yard pass from Tech quarterback Cody Sokol to Sterling Griffin.
A Xavier Woods 46-yard interception return later in the third quarter put the Cajuns down 31-7, and Hudspeth said at that point, he began to doubt if a comeback was in the cards.
“We saw some struggles, and the defense dropped off even more in the second half,” Hudspeth said. “We give up another score and you start getting into pressing mode. That hurt us. I wish we could have been more productive and maybe not gotten behind the sticks. We can’t give up the big plays that are just daggers.”
Big plays cost the Cajuns three times when the defense had the Bulldogs in third-and-long situations. Hudspeth said getting to the third-and-long situations was the one thing the defense did well Saturday — but allowing the conversions were heartbreakers.
“We had big plays with sacks and tackles for losses,” Hudspeth said. “Then they would convert the third-and-longs, and that stung.”
Bulldogs receivers seemed to be open all night, and Sokol found them with ease.
The Louisiana Tech quarterback was 22-of-33 for 295 yards and two touchdowns. Hudspeth said Sokol was efficient and accurate and said he thought his secondary would be further along with all of the returning players the Cajuns have.
“A lot may have to do with some of the scheme, too,” Hudspeth said. “We didn’t play well in the secondary. We fell down and gave up a big touchdown and a lot of third-and-longs. It’s never one person or one side of the ball that is to blame. This is not a finger-pointing deal at anyone but myself. I signed off on both of those game plans. We have to tighten up.”
Hudspeth didn’t allow players to speak after the game, electing to take all the questions and put all the blame on himself. He did say, however, he challenged the locker room to find out who would lead the team past this early-season adversity.
“We will find out a lot about our team now,” Hudspeth said. “It’s really easy to be a leader when everyone is winning and jumping up and down in the locker room. You find out a lot about your team when you’re stuck in the mud and facing adversity. You see which guys are going to pull us out of the mud, because we have a long season left.
“We are much better than what we did tonight. One game does not make our season. We are going to keep grinding.”