With each passing week, the job UL defensive coordinator Ron Roberts’ unit is doing continues to amaze.
Things could have gotten a little hairy for the Ragin’ Cajuns in Saturday’s 31-3 homecoming win over Texas State.
The offense was missing its right tackle, its bruising back and its top receiving target.
For many during the preseason, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns were supposed to be a team carried by an explosive offense.
After three drives, UL hadn’t scored a point.
That proved not to be a problem for the Cajuns’ defense, which held Texas State without a touchdown and 264 total yards.
“I can’t complement our defense enough,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “I think it’s been a long time around here since we played that type of defense, and we’re starting to do it pretty consistently.
“They kept the game under control until we figured it out. I thought we’d create some takeaways and certainly controlled the field position of the game.”
UL’s defense produced six tackles for losses, two interceptions, four pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries.
The first interception came when the game was still in doubt. UL led 17-3, but Texas State reached the Cajuns’ 29 on its first possession of the third quarter.
It wasn’t a thing of beauty for much of the first half.
Senior cornerback Michael Jacquet quickly squashed those plans with an interception.
“All week during film, I knew they didn’t run a lot of deep routes,” Jacquet said. “They always want to sit on their routes between 12 and 15 yards. He released inside, and I allowed him to dictate his route.
“He starting chopping down. As soon as he chopped down, I just sit and fit and turned around, the ball was right there.”
The second one was made by sophomore Bralen Trahan, which ended a late touchdown try.
“The play before that, I think coach Napier called a timeout,” Trahan said. “I was actually supposed to be on the dude that it was intended for. Coach (Patrick) Toney switched it up, and he put Kam Pedescleaux on him. We switched up, and it worked out great. He tipped it up to me, and I caught it.”
Zi’Yon Hill led UL’s defense with six tackles, followed by Jacquet with five stops and four for Lorenzo McCaskill and Andre Jones.
What we learned, trending now and other thoughts from the Ragin' Cajuns' win.
Also, Jayrin Wilson, a former Acadiana High standout, like Trahan, added three tackles and a pass breakup.
For the defense, having to carry a larger load was not a burden.
“Our mindset every time we take the field is to stop the offense,” Jacquet said. “So whether the offense is scoring or not, we still have the same mindset.
“Of course, when they’re not scoring, we have a little bit more motivation because we can’t allow the game to get out of hand. But we always have the same mindset — stopping everybody.”
On Saturday, the biggest difficulty for the defense was dealing with the runs by quarterback Tyler Vitt.
“Prevent the quarterback from scrambling,” Jacquet said. “He likes to get out of the pocket and extend the play. Our defensive line did a good job of keeping him in the pocket and when he did get outside, the D-line ran them down. Give a big shout-out to the D-line, they controlled the quarterback.”
At this pace, the defense would allow the fewest points per game since 1988.
Jacquet said the secret is togetherness.
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“Everybody’s close,” Jacquet said. “The coaching staff trusts us. He (defensive coordinator Ron Roberts) puts us in position to allow our strengths to come out. He’s not going to call something one corner struggles with. He’s going to call something that benefits us.
“I think that’s what it is. Everybody’s playing together, and everybody’s playing for one another. We’re just getting on a roll, and we’re not going to stop anytime soon.”
About the only thing the defense did wrong Saturday was play a big role in UL getting 12 flags for 128 yards.
“We had a handful of undisciplined penalties,” Napier said. “I’m a little bit disappointed with that. I think some of it was bang-bang, but there was obvious undisciplined play out there that we need to address.
“That’s one thing about this team. This team is loyal. They play hard, they play with emotional, they play physical and they’ve got each other’s back. That is a strength of the team, but in a matter of seconds, that can become a weakness.”