LAFAYETTE — The feeling wasn’t any better Sunday morning than it was Saturday night for the Louisiana-Lafayette football team.
“When I woke up Sunday morning, I just wanted to fall back asleep,” senior center said Terry Johnson after UL-Lafayette’s 48-20 humbling at the hands of rival Louisiana Tech.
“It was rough,” said sophomore cornerback Dominick Jones, part of a defense that allowed 533 yards to the Bulldogs — the most the Cajuns had allowed in two seasons. “I stayed up late thinking about it Saturday night. But when we got to practice Sunday, we had to put it behind us, and practice got it off our minds.”
Coach Mark Hudspeth is hoping that his team puts Saturday’s disaster out of mind but also keeps it filed under lessons learned.
“When you don’t follow your plan to win, you typically don’t win,” Hudspeth said Monday. “We didn’t follow that from the get-go, losing the turnover battle, not playing great defense, not playing great on special teams. It was a hurtful loss, but we had a great meeting Sunday and moved on.
“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it, and I believe with the character of this team that they’re going to respond. They’re anxious to get back out there and get back to basics, that’s what you do after you lose a game like this.”
The turnaround task is a lot tougher, since the Cajuns make their first road trip of the year to face No. 14 Ole Miss. The Rebels thumped Vanderbilt in their Southeastern Conference opener 41-3 and popped a solid Boise State team in their opener to win 35-13.
The Ole Miss passing attack has accounted for 387 and 367 yards in two games, and the Ole Miss defense has allowed one touchdown drive of more than 20 yards this year. So the Rebels are likely salivating after seeing the film of the Cajuns’ debacle against the Bulldogs.
“I’d be licking my chops, too,” Hudspeth said. “They saw a team that didn’t play well in the second half. But we don’t have hardly any time to sit around and worry about last week; that will do us no good.”
Johnson, who started his second game at center after playing guard most of his career, will be heading to his hometown of Oxford for Saturday’s game. He was quick to take more than his share of the blame for the disappointing performance against the Bulldogs.
“I have to get better,” he said. “A lot of the miscues were on me on the offensive line. I told the guys after the game, ‘I gotta start watching more film. I thought I was doing enough, but I gotta get better.’ I put it all on me, because I have to start getting everybody on the same page.”
Hudspeth is also returning home this weekend, and the Louisville, Mississippi, native will have company. UL-Lafayette has 17 Mississippi natives on its 105-man roster, in great part due to the Cajuns staff’s heavy recruiting in the Magnolia State when the group arrived before the 2011 season.
“I haven’t really thought about it much, except that Mom and Dad asked for tickets,” Hudspeth said. “Obviously a lot of friends there that may not be my friends for that day. But I’m excited to see if we’ve improved.”
Hudspeth talked to his team Sunday night about UL-Lafayette’s run in June’s NCAA baseball super regional, where the top-ranked Cajuns lost two of three to Ole Miss and came within a game of reaching the College World Series.
“Our team played really well against Ole Miss,” he said. “It’s something we addressed. They competed at an extremely high level in the super regional and represented us well. I hope we have that opportunity to do the same.”
Wide receiver Jamal Robinson, who left Saturday’s game in the second quarter with a lower leg injury, is expected to return to limited practice Tuesday. Hudspeth said he expected the Cajuns’ leading receiver to be back for Saturday.
Linebacker Jake Molbert (muscle fatigue) and end Marquise White (ankle), who were in street clothes Saturday, are both expected to return.
Hudspeth said running back Elijah McGuire, who took a lower back hit on the game’s second or third offensive play Saturday and saw limited action, should be back “100 percent.”
“(McGuire’s injury) took away a lot of what we planned, to get him and Alonzo (Harris) on the field at the same time,” he said. “But other guys have to step in and pick it up.”
One at a time
Hudspeth said that the loss to the Bulldogs should limit his team’s vision, as it relates to season goals.
“One thing we’re not talking about any more is guys talking about the big picture down the road, who’s going to be all-conference and winning 12 games,” he said. “We are concentrating on nothing but Ole Miss’ Rebels. That’s been a little bit of our problem. ... Now it’s going to be a one-week season the rest of the way. That’s the way it’s been in the last three years.”