A Look Back at WKU – From the Bird’s Nest
A most improbable win.
The Daily Advertiser's Kevin Foote and I were talking yesterday and we agreed the 31-27 win over WKU was even more unlikely than the Cajuns 36-35 win last year against Louisiana-Monroe.
And here are reasons why we feel that way.
First, the caliber of opponent. Remember, ULM was 4-8 last year and really didn't have a ton to play for when the Cajuns took the field against them. WKU was 6-4 and looking toward an eight win season.
Second, the Cajuns had beaten the Warhawks three straight times. The Cajuns had lost to WKU two straight times.
Third, the Cajuns won despite being --3 in turnover margin. That's just unheard of, especially against a team that can really run the football. And, you might have noticed, WKU can really run the football.
And fourth, in last year's game against ULM, the Warhawks didn't get to touch the football until the Cajuns had already taken the lead, thanks to a successful onside kick. This time, the onside kick failed and the Cajuns had to give WKU a possession before the final drive.
Crazy, I tell you.
Although there were fans who left early (again) many learned their lesson a year ago and stayed for the final five minutes, and got rewarded for their loyalty.
Here are some thoughts:
SOMETIMES TURNOVERS ARE FORCED--WKU gets credit for three of the four Cajuns turnovers. The first, an interception, happened because of a miscommunication between quarterback Terrance Broadway and WR Jamal Robinson. But the other three were forced. The WKU defense stripped Alonzo Harris and Jacob Maxwell of the football. Credit to them. Coaches and fans tend to look at turnovers as forced if they happen in favor of their team and unforced if they're the ones turning it over. Perception does not necessarily translate into reality.
RUN, BETTER RUN--Both teams played good defense for about a quarter and a half. After that, not so much, except for the forced turnovers. But if you were paying attention to Antoine Andrews and his one man show in the second half (and cursed the Cajuns' defense in the process), you missed the fact the Cajuns averaged 9.5 yards per carry, compared to 5.2 for WKU. The Cajuns outgained the Hilltoppers on the ground, 324-266...on 17 fewer carries. Neither defense did much in the second half, true. But the Cajuns' running game was pretty incredible.
NOT SO SPECIAL TEAMS--Mark Hudspeth called the kicking game the worst it's been all year. And, he's right. The Cajuns weren't good returning kicks or covering kickoffs. That was the glaring part. Brett Baer made his only FG attempt and punted well, but overall the kicking game, where the Cajuns usually have an advantage, was no advantage at all.
SICK ABOUT SMITH--You undoubtedly noticed in the fourth quarter, or heard us talk about it on the radio, but the nation's sack leader, Quanterus Smith, went down with what appeared to be a leg injury. It was the knee. ACL. He's done. That's a huge blow to the Hilltoppers and, obviously to Smith. We can use the cliche "injuries are part of the game" and that's correct. Doesn't mean it doesn't suck.
NEON LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT NOW--There's not a doubt, four or five weeks ago, we don't win this game. Terrance Broadway has arrived. His performance in the two minute drill was very, very good, with only one incompletion. He was named the LSWA offensive Player of the Week. I don't think he was ready for this performance a month ago. He is now. And, that's just going to make the Cajuns even better.
I WANT A JERSEY--Go ahead and be stubborn about the Cajuns wearing black. Those unis were outstanding. I've never been one to get into uniform discussions a whole lot. But I will in this case. The large fleur-de-lis on the front...the french words on the back of the jerseys, it all spelled winner. (I did ask Mark Hudspeth yesterday, though, why he hated his play by play guy with that no number look on the front.) Yes, purists, I know black isn't a school color. Get over it. These were great...and I want one.
The team is already preparing for the home finale against South Alabama this Saturday. And, that's what they want to talk about. That's the right thing to do. But for the fans, just as it took some time to get over the loss to Florida, everyone is excused if they enjoy this week for a day or two more.
It's worth celebrating.