LAFAYETTE — If there is a common issue to point to in each of Louisiana-Lafayette’s games this season, it’s the defense’s tendency to give up big plays.
The Ragin’ Cajuns lead the Sun Belt in giving up plays of more than 30 yards — 39 of them in all. They also lead the conference in giving up plays of more than 40 yards (23), 50 yards (15), 60 yards (eight), 70 yards (six) and 80 yards (two).
“You can make a living bringing a lot of pressure,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “But if you don’t get there, you’re really susceptible to big plays.”
The lack of pass rush and susceptibility to the big play was on display in the Cajuns’ 35-16 loss to Appalachian State on Saturday. Two big plays in the third quarter led to the team’s demise, Hudspeth said.
“Right up until that long pass there right before the fourth quarter, we’d played pretty well,” he said.
Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb hit Shaedon Meadors for 43 yards to get into Cajuns territory. Two plays later, Lamb found Montez McGuire for a 40-yard touchdown, putting the Mountaineers up 21-13.
“The safety bit a little too much on the inside post, and the ball got out to the outside,” Hudspeth said. “We didn’t have help over the top. It was a good call at the right time versus what we had, so you’ve got to give (Appalachian State) credit.”
Hudspeth admitted Lamb was a little too comfortable in the pocket Saturday, and he said they need to find a way to correct the pass rush.
“We’ve got to do a better job,” Hudspeth said. “He had a long time to throw the ball; we’ve got to get a little more pressure on him.”
The big-play plague didn’t just show its face in the Appalachian State game. In a 34-17 win over Louisiana-Monroe two weeks ago, the Cajuns gave up seven plays of 15 or more yards, including two in the fourth quarter.
Against Arkansas State — another Cajuns victory — they gave up three scoring plays of more than 60 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown pass right before halftime.
“(Against Arkansas State), we gave up a lot of yards,” Hudspeth said. “Way too many yards. Most of the big plays were (a result of) guys out of position. You go back and you see the film, and you feel much better when you see that the scheme was there. The coaches made some good calls.
“It’s just some guys didn’t play within the scheme and allowed some seams to pop and allowed them to get a couple of big, big plays. We’ve got to eliminate that. We’ve got to eliminate big plays.”