LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe may be in-state rivals, but as senior linebacker Boris Anyama left the field in Monroe on Saturday night, Warhawks wide receiver Rashon Ceaser approached him with a message that suggested more state pride than rivalry.
“Ceaser from ULM was saying, ‘We’re going to beat Georgia Southern for y’all. Don’t worry about it,’ ” Anyama said.
That’s music to Anyama’s ears, because after sharing the Sun Belt Conference title with Arkansas State last season, he doesn’t want to tie again.
The Cajuns (7-3, 6-0) and Georgia Southern (8-3, 7-0) are tied for the SBC lead. Georgia Southern has just one game remaining, a Nov. 29 home game against ULM, while the Cajuns have games against Appalachian State and Troy remaining.
But the Cajuns would be foolish to operate with the hope that the Warhawks will knock Georgia Southern from the ranks of unbeatens in SBC play, coach Mark Hudspeth said. His team has to prepare as if it must win out to force a dreaded tie.
“I think anybody … would like a chance to be outright champions,” Hudspeth said. “But someone asked me the same question a while ago, and I said, ‘That’s not even a pertinent question.’
“Because, for us to even become co-champions, we’ve got to win this Saturday. For us, this is the conference championship game against Appalachian State. This is a big game and our players know that.“
Head on straight
With the first major coaching job coming available earlier this week after Florida made it known that Will Muschamp would not return next season, consider now the time when the rumors start to fly about Hudspeth landing his next job.
Considering what Hudspeth and his staff have done in their time with the program, perhaps it’s not surprising that his name has been thrown around. It comes with the territory.
That doesn’t mean his players haven’t been surprised to see him stick around.
“Through all the success in the business that we’re in,” said senior guard Daniel Quave. “I’m pretty sure he’s had opportunities to leave, and the fact that he stayed speaks volumes about his character.”
For Quave, the consistency produced by having Hudspeth — and, to a lesser degree, most of his original coaching staff — in place for the last three years and change has been what’s driven the team’s success.
“Any time you’ve got your head on straight, your body’s going to function as well,” Quave said. “To know that he’s the head coach, it allows everything else to get in sync.”
Senior Trevence Patt started at one corner position last weekend in place of Jevante Watson. Patt had been replaced as a starting safety by redshirt freshman Tracy Walker earlier in the season as he dealt with an ankle injury that didn’t allow him to run at full speed.
“He just was not 100 percent,” Hudsepth said. “When you’ve got a corner who has a bad wheel, it’s hard to play you. You’ve got a lineman who has a bad wheel, he can still plug a gap and do his job. But you can get exposed out in the secondary. We weren’t quite ready for him to come back, because he wasn’t quite himself.”
He’s starting to show shades of his old self, though — the one who was named a preseason first-team All-Sun Belt Conference player after he led the conference in passes defensed last season.
“He’s really getting back to being full speed,” Hudspeth said. “As we know, he is one of our best defensive backs when he’s healthy. I think he’s going to play awfully well these last few weeks.”