LAFAYETTE — Akron’s Thomas Woodson was a nightmare for UL-Lafayette on Saturday night.
The sophomore quarterback was 13-for-29 for 238 yards and two touchdowns — but his mobility and his 93 yards on eight carries gave the Cajuns the most trouble in the Zips’ 35-14 victory at Cajun Field.
“He moved pretty good for a big guy,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “He hurt us on the draw and he threw it pretty decent. I think we played the pass pretty good.
The Zips were 6-of-13 on third down against the Cajuns, and Woodson’s legs were critical in two of those pickups. In the first quarter, Woodson gained 24 yards on a third-and-11; in the third quarter, he gained 38 yards on a third-and-one, where the Cajuns stacked nine defenders in the box.
“I knew I had to make a play, but I wanted to be smart,” Woodson said. “I knew where the markers were and in the back of mind, I am always worried about protecting the ball. I feel real good right now. It’s good to actually play, and we played a good team out here tonight. I am so happy right now.”
Akron coach Terry Bowden said he has known Woodson had this ability; it was just getting Woodson to believe it was a challenge.
“He started a couple games last year and he has played enough that I knew he had the talent,” Bowden said. “He came out and did exactly what we had hoped he could do. He is the best combination runner and thrower we have. He just has to learn to be a leader.”
The Cajuns defense struggled with tackling all night — especially on Woodson. Senior linebacker Dominque Tovell said they simply didn’t do their jobs.
“(Woodson) came out and made plays” Tovell said. ”He was a big quarterback. Physically we had to wrap him up. We just have to be more sound in what we do. We knew what he could do and he came out and made the plays when he needed. We had a poor night at tackling and it’ll come in practice.”
Tovell said the passing attack from Woodson came as a bit of a shock.
“They came out and did some things they didn’t show on film,” he said. “They threw it a little more than we expected.”
Hudspeth said he saw Saturday’s poor performance coming, but he couldn’t stop it. He said the wake-up call is coming at the right time.
“Wake-up calls are the best thing that can happen to you,” Hudspeth said. “The wake-up call is coming at a good time, Hopefully it will refocus our coaches and our players to come in and get it better than we ever have.”