LAFAYETTE — Even before he left the artificial turf of Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday night in Stillwater, Okla., University of Louisiana at Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth was compiling a list of his team’s positive achievements.
Sure, the scoreboard indicated ULL lost its season opener and Hudspeth’s first game as ULL coach to No. 9 Oklahoma State 61-34.
Hudspeth, however, seemed to look beyond the 666 total yards the Cajuns surrendered to OSU and ULL’s own meager offensive output, which came mostly during the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
Hudspeth focused instead on what he felt is a bigger issue — a team that is developing the type of mentally tough identity he’s tried to instill over the past eight months.
“If there’s one thing I know we improved upon from last year, it’s that we’re a tough football team and we’ll play four quarters,” Hudspeth said. “I think that was evident (against OSU).”
Last season the Cajuns were outscored 140-36 in the final period, an issue that sometimes proved costly during a 3-9 year.
ULL scored 14 points in the fourth period against OSU, which led 44-20 at the end of the third period.
Hudspeth said the Cajuns displayed to him they are a tougher team mentally than the 2010 squad.
“With that, I think we’re on the right page,” he said.
“We just kind of started a little slow, but we picked it up throughout the whole game,” Hudspeth said.
Realistically, Hudspeth admitted the Cajuns made numerous mistakes that cannot be overlooked as ULL prepares to play Kent on Saturday.
Junior quarterback Blaine Gautier, who started the game, completed 13-of-26 passes for just 106 yards. Overall, the Gautier-led offense didn’t produce the efficiency Hudspeth hoped would keep OSU’s powerful offense off the field.
“We’ve got to do a better job of putting together some drives,” Hudspeth said. “Our defense was on the field for like 56 plays in the first half alone. That was the exact opposite of what we wanted.”
Gautier placed several balls in the hands of receivers who dropped them, despite being open.
Hudspeth said Gautier has potential to give ULL some explosiveness at the position.
“(Gautier) showed that he’s got some dynamic running ability, and he made some nice throws,” Hudspeth said. “He also missed a couple of easy throws that he has to be automatic on.”
Although he didn’t mention specific names, Hudspeth said he identified several “playmakers.”
Some of those were in the ULL secondary which intercepted three passes.
Cornerback Dwight Bentley returned one in the first half for a 38-yard touchdown.
Bentley had another later in the game, while safety Jemarlous Moten, a junior college transfer playing his first game for ULL, returned another interception for a 50-yard TD.
Moten said the Cajuns secondary made quite a statement in its performance.
“We feel like we have the best secondary in college football,” Moten said.
Where was Green?
ULL tight end Ladarius Green, placed on the Mackey Watch List for a second straight season, had one catch for minus-1 yard.
Qyendarius Griffin and Alonzo Harris, a pair of true freshmen running backs, combined for 67 of the Cajuns’ rushing yards. Griffin scored the game’s last touchdown on a 3-yard run with 17 seconds remaining.
Baer still perfect
Kicker Brett Baer made a pair of field goals (23 and 29 yards), making him 9-for-9 in his Louisiana-Lafayette career. Baer also made all of the Cajuns’ extra points in addition to punting eight times for a 45.5 yard average.