Ragin’ Cajuns make it clear: They need a faster start against Louisiana Tech _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- UL-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire runs the ball in for a touchdown against Akron in the second quarter of last Saturday's game at Cajun Field.

LAFAYETTE — When Louisiana-Lafayette goes to Ruston to face off against Louisiana Tech’s high-powered offense this week, the Ragin’ Cajuns will look to get their own offense in gear early.

That’s because in the two losses, they got off to a slow start.

“We’ve got to get off to a faster start,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Two out of the three games we’ve played, we’ve gotten off to a slow start offensively. We need to get off to a better start offensively, get in a rhythm and try to get (running back Elijah McGuire) lathered up.”

Against Kentucky, the Cajuns went three and out on their first possession and didn’t crack the scoreboard until midway through the second quarter after the Wildcats already had a 21-0 lead.

Against Akron, the Cajuns went three and out on their first two possessions, allowing the Zips to dominate time of possession in the first quarter.

Against Kentucky, the Cajuns were able to claw back into the game on the ground — but they largely had to abandon their core offensive principles while trying to play catch-up against Akron.

“We had to get away from it a little bit and throw a little more than we wanted to,” Hudspeth said.

With respect to McGuire, Hudspeth expressed some disappointment that McGuire touched the ball only once in those two first-quarter three-and-outs. Getting their best player active early is a key part of the equation for the Cajuns.

McGuire also took some of the responsibility on himself.

“It’s very important,” McGuire said. “We talked about it the whole summer, the whole spring, (about) how we wanted to start off every game playing fast. But we haven’t quite done that yet.

“I’m going to challenge these guys and myself to get off to a fast start on Saturday. I’m going to hold these guys accountable so maybe we can get something going.”

Notable difference

If the Cajuns are feeling any ill effects from their disappointing loss to Akron last weekend, it sure didn’t look like it at practice Tuesday.

“We had one of the best practices of the year today,” Hudspeth said. “We had a new heightened sense of urgency. Boy, I tell you, the kids came out here today and ... played physical. I love the attitude of this senior class.”

Some of it can surely be chalked up to who is on the schedule this weekend. The Cajuns lost 48-20 to Louisiana Tech last season and have lost seven consecutive games in the series that dates to 1910.

“It’s Tech week, plus they remember last year’s game, plus they know the urgency and importance of this game. They want to be the senior class that wins this game.”

Standout performance

As a whole, the Cajuns offensive line didn’t generate much push against Akron’s strong defensive line, but senior left guard Mykhael Quave was solid, Hudspeth said.

“Mykhael Quave ... was our offensive player of the game,” Hudspeth said. “He played lights-out.”

On the Cajuns’ first touchdown, Quave used his athletic skills to pull outside the left tackle and bury a linebacker, providing McGuire the crease he needed to burst upfield and score from 17 yards out.