The Cajuns have plenty of time to recuperate and dwell on a disappointing road loss before New Mexico State comes calling next week at Cajun Field. The Aggies, after a woeful 0-7 start to the season, have looked much better as of late. They beat Idaho in a 55-48 overtime barnburner two weeks ago, then pulled out a 31-21 road win against Texas State last week. Sophomore running back Larry Rose III has been the driving force behind the Aggies’ improved play, running for 419 yards and six touchdowns in the two wins. Rose enters Saturday — which New Mexico State has off — with 1,290 yards, which ranks third nationally.
Thursday’s 32-25 loss to South Alabama was a vintage 2015 Cajuns performance. That is not good. The team once again fell into a double-digit deficit by halftime, the fifth time that’s happened in nine games. It had trouble with missed tackles and third-down defense, particularly on third-and-long. The offense sputtered for most of the game, and when it finally found something that was working late, it wasn’t enough. That sequence probably applies to at least half of the Cajuns games this season, which is why they’re sitting a game under .500 three-quarters of the way into the year.
On the whole, quarterback Brooks Haack had an outstanding night, completing 21 of his 34 passes for a career-high 270 yards. His 45-yard touchdown strike to Jamal Robinson brought the Cajuns within a touchdown of taking the lead in the fourth quarter. For the first time this season, the Cajuns looked halfway like the team they were supposed to look like on offense this season with Haack slinging it around. But all Haack will likely have on his mind are his last two drives: an interception that directly led to the go-ahead score and a four and out on the Cajuns do-or-die final drive.
Keep an eye on
The offensive line. Left guard Grant Horst missed the game with a concussion, and although coach Mark Hudspeth said after the game Horst probably would’ve been good to go if the game was played on Saturday, head injuries are never all that predictable. In his place, Jesse Freeman struggled with pre-snap penalties in his first career start and was removed from the lineup in the second half. A healthy Horst Saturday possibly would’ve opened things up for a suddenly stagnant Cajuns rushing attack.
“The game, the final score doesn’t always define you. I know as a coach it does, I’m fine with that. But sometimes other things define who you are, and the character of our football team, the way they battled back again, took the lead, kept coming up with plays. It just shows the type of kids we’ve got.” — Hudspeth