LAFAYETTE — UL-Lafayette had been in this position before, and that was the problem.
Juniors Al Riles and Otha Peters had enough of it. At halftime, they got up in front of their teammates and let them know that it was time to take over.
The theme of the message was simple, yet it was a concept the Cajuns failed to grasp in the first half against UL-Monroe. They trailed 24-9 at halftime.
“Come out there and do your job. That was his main thing,” senior linebacker Dominique Tovell said of Peters’ message. “Stop feeling sorry for ourselves when something big happened on us. Just come to the sideline and make adjustments. But mainly (it was) to do our job and put some fire under our tails.
“We just came out hot. Him and Al gave us a great speech at the half.”
The speech cut to the core of the matter pretty quickly. Coach Mark Hudspeth said it wasn’t a rah-rah effort, it was brutal honesty.
“We’ve been needing some leadership,” Hudspeth said. “It wasn’t just fire and brimstone; it was telling it like it was.”
Peters focused on the defense, while Riles spoke to the offense.
“(Peters) called out just about every position, he was on top of his game,” Hudspeth said. “He knew exactly what he was saying when he was talking about the secondary or the pass rush.”
The halftime speeches weren’t necessarily the reason the Cajuns stormed back to win 30-24, but they were a sign of leadership developing on an inexperienced team, and that was important for Hudspeth to see.
“They were talking the right things,” Hudspeth said. “It was great to see that type of leadership, and to see the way our team responded was pretty special.”
Moving on up
With his 64-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, senior receiver Jamal Robinson passed Javone Lawson to move into fifth place on the Cajuns’ all-time receiving yardage list.
Robinson said afterward he was getting ready to send a text to Lawson letting him know the good news.
Earlier in the game, Robinson moved past Wayde Butler for sixth on the Cajuns’ all-time receiving yardage list with an 8-yard catch and run in the flat.
Darzil Washington started for the first time this season as the Cajuns shifted around their linebacker rotation, with Tovell moving from his usual spot on the outside to inside linebacker.
Washington did not seem to make much of a mark, finishing with one tackle and one quarterback hurry.
Dominick Jones earned his second start of the season, but his first career start at safety. He finished with three tackles but was beat for 27 yards on a fourth-and-4 for the Warhawks’ first touchdown.
Jevante Watson left in the first quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return. He was replaced by Troy McCollum, who had missed the previous two games with an ankle injury.
Watson was the only Cajuns player who left the game to injury.