OXFORD, Miss. — With his team losing by 43 points late in the second half Saturday at Ole Miss, Alonzo Harris got a full head of steam, lowered his shoulder and barreled into the Rebels defender blocking the goal line.
It was a hard run, not the type of run performed by a player or team that had given up.
The scoreboard said the Cajuns still have a lot to figure out, but count one less thing off the list for coach Mark Hudspeth to fix.
“I thought our kids responded well from last week from the standpoint of playing hard,” Hudspeth said. “I thought they battled all the way to the end. I thought they played hard. You can definitely see it matters to them.”
The players’ effort was in question late in the game the previous week against Louisiana Tech, after the Cajuns fell into a big hole and ended up with a 48-20 loss. Hudspeth and the players he’s counting on to be leaders did not see that this time around, even if Ole Miss prevailed 56-15.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway acknowledged the improvement in overall effort takes a back seat to the Cajuns’ failure to execute the offense, a problem he said “starts and finishes with me.” But Broadway, like others, are seeking positives from the Cajuns’ 1-2 start.
“If I could say one thing about these last two weeks, it’s that they brought us together as a team,” he said. “Major adversity that we didn’t expect. We expected ourselves to play up to our potential, and we haven’t. It’s something that has brought us together as a team, offensively and defensively together.
“We’re going to learn from these mistakes, and we will fix these mistakes — no doubt in my mind.”
Considering the competition, Hudspeth sounded pleased with the way his offensive line came together Saturday.
“Our offensive line went against one of the best defensive lines in the country, and I felt like they held their own,” he said. “They gave our quarterback time to throw the ball, and I thought that was evident. I thought they opened up some nice holes in the run game.”
The stats back Hudspeth up. The Cajuns gained 193 yards on the ground against a defense that came into the game allowing 121 rushing yards per game.
More importantly, the line kept the Rebels out of the backfield, limiting a team that came into the game averaging seven tackles for loss to two.
Broadway was not sacked for the second time in three games, but the Rebels did pressure him throughout the game.
With the game well out of reach late, the Cajuns saw an opportunity to get youngsters playing time. Hudspeth had his entire second unit in against the Rebels backups.
True freshman linebacker T.J. Posey collected three tackles in the contest as he played extensively in the fourth quarter. Freshman receiver Gabe Fuselier had a forgettable night, dropping one pass and fumbling a kick return.
One is the ugliest number
More than half of the Cajuns’ possessions Saturday — eight of 14 — ended with them using just one set of downs.
The Cajuns went three-and-out six times against the Rebels.