LAFAYETTE - The University of Louisiana at Lafayette football team has taken on a personality very similar to that of their coach in their record 6-1 start, Mark Hudspeth acknowledged Monday.
“I think they’re making strides; I think they’re pretty close,” Hudspeth said Monday.
“They love to play the game; I love the game. They love to have a good time, which I do, too. But I do believe in hard work and trying to outwork people. That’s the only way I’ve ever gotten to anywhere I’ve ever got to.
“It’s not because my dad was a high school or a great college coach and I wasn’t handed the keys to any job. I’ve had to earn every job that I’ve gotten through hard work, and I think these players will tell you the same thing: They’ve earned these six wins through hard work.”
The Cajuns’ surprising start is their best since starting 8-0 in 1976. It’s also the best start ever by a Sun Belt Conference team.
The last time a Cajuns team won six straight was in 1993 - former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme’s freshman season. That streak ended at No. 9 Florida.
The streak has also gained the Cajuns national notoriety. Last week, Hudspeth was interviewed on Tim Brando’s nationally syndicated radio program, and his name also surfaced as a candidate for the vacant Arizona job for next season, a rumor he quickly dismissed.
“Was not one distraction; that rolled off our backs like water off a duck,” he said of the rumor. “We are totally focused on our next opponent. We were totally focused this past week, and there is absolutely no interest on my part in the Arizona job.”
Hudspeth said his only interest is continuing to lead the Cajuns to bigger and better things.
“I am a Ragin’ Cajun and proud to be a Ragin’ Cajun,” he said. “I’m excited not only about this season, but the future of our program because I see so many young kids making contributions ? not just a few snaps, but major contributions.
“We’re excited about now and the future, but more so about today.”
The next five games will be difficult ones, he acknowledged. Of those five, four are on the road, including the season-ender at Arizona.
“Seems like at the first of the year, we were on the road every week, now we’ve been at home three straight,” said Hudspeth. “Now, we’ve got to change gears and get readjusted being on the road. But we’ve handled that well before and, hopefully, we will again.”
For now, the only thing in focus is Western Kentucky (2-4, 2-1 SBC) on Saturday in Bowling Green, Ky.
It was the Hilltoppers who ruined the Cajuns’ 2010 Homecoming, a 54-21 victory which marked the winners’ first victory in league.
“We play Western Kentucky this week, and that is the only game on our schedule,” said Hudspeth. “We don’t talk in terms of five games, four games, three games. ? It is a one-game season.”
That approach has resulted in six straight wins thus far.