Things don’t always go as planned.
For instance, look what happened Saturday night at Cajun Field when Louisiana Tech obliterated hometown UL-Lafayette 48-20 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the four-touchdown final spread.
Who saw that coming? And more importantly, where do the Ragin’ Cajuns go from here?
Here’s how it was supposed to go: The Cajuns were destined to walk on to the field and end a string of futility against an in-state opponent that dates almost 20 years.
They were supposed to breeze through the first two games of their schedule, a combination of talent and experience that teams outside the power conferences couldn’t hope to match, setting the stage for the Cajuns’ chance to shock the college football world in the coming weeks.
Three hours was all Louisiana Tech needed to unravel all those well-laid plans in front of 25,607 mainly red-clad fans.
Twelve-and-oh, the goal the seniors were shooting for, is out the window. A 1-3 start looks like a realistic possibility. Months and months of anticipation built up a potential dream season that fizzled away in three uninspiring hours.
Who saw this coming? Well, nobody. Nobody who’s being honest, anyway. But that doesn’t really matter anymore.
Again, the important question is where do the Cajuns go from here? This, not the 28-point embarrassment the Cajuns endured Saturday, will be the true test of this team.
Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth spent much longer than usual addressing his team in the aftermath of the ambush at Cajun Field. The game was over for nearly 40 minutes before he strode into the weight room in the football offices where the Cajuns hold their postgame press conference.
“Well guys, let’s go through this,” Hudspeth said. “I think I’d rather have a root canal right now.”
Even though he would’ve rather been in surgery, Hudspeth was measured and calm as he could’ve possibly been. He took the same approach with his team.
“Here’s the thing, there’s two ways to do this as a head coach,” Hudspeth said. “You can go in there and grab some chairs and slam them against the wall and rant and rave, but you’re not really telling your team anything that they need to know to get out of this mud hole.
“I told them it’s on me; it starts with me. I said, ‘Guys, I did not have you ready, we didn’t finish this game, we did not do the right things. We’re going to do a much better job. In return, you’re going to have to give me a much better effort doing your jobs.’ ”
Hudspeth took all the blame, at least where it was due. He acknowledged after the game that the game plan he signed off on was not up to snuff with the Bulldogs’. He also said his players didn’t do their part executing at times.
Hudspeth also didn’t allow his players to speak to the media after the game.
“I told those guys that I’m going to take this humble pie for them and let them get some rest. They’re going to need it tomorrow because we’re fixing to get to work.”
The lack of accountability aside, getting back to work is important for the Cajuns. They need to watch film and dissect everything that went wrong in the worst kind of way Saturday night. Because next week, they get arguably their toughest test of the season against Ole Miss.
And that’s where we come full-circle.
Nobody associated with the Cajuns planned to go out and get rocked by Louisiana Tech. Nobody expected the Cajuns to start the season 1-1 and suddenly start wondering about how good they really are.
And now, nobody’s planning for the Cajuns to do much of anything in the next couple weeks. But things don’t always go as planned.
“Now we’ll find out a lot about our team,” Hudspeth said. “When you’re winning every game and you’re winning bowls and everybody is happy in the locker room jumping up and down, it’s real easy to be a leader. That’s easy. It’s real easy to be in a good mood and work hard.
“You find out a lot about your team when you’re stuck in the mud and you’re facing a little bit of adversity.”
The mud pit was Hudspeth’s analogy of choice Saturday. For his team’s sake, he hopes it doesn’t prove to be quicksand.
“You’re going to see which guys on your team are going to pull your team out of the mud and get them moving forward again,” Hudspeth said. “We’ve got a long season left, we’re just now getting started and by no means are we pressing the panic button in any manner.”