From the Bird’s Nest: Sometimes I Like Being Wrong
I've got a great job.
I get to have an opinion and people have to listen to it.
Well, they don't have to. But enough do.
And I love being right, especially when everyone thinks I'm wrong.
But hey, there are things more important than being right. And when those things happen, I absolutely LOVE being wrong.
And especially when it's about the Cajuns.
Hey, I admit it. I didn't think this team could get it done Saturday. (Actually, the team I saw the first three weeks couldn't have gotten it done.) But, on a Saturday night in Miami, we got a look at the Ragin' Cajuns.
Offense, defense, special teams.
They weren't perfect (we'll get to that in a minute....), but they were plenty good enough.
And, truth be told, I wasn't totally wrong.
I did write a blog last week about five things the Cajuns had to do to win the game. And, you know what? I was right. They had to contain T. Y. Hilton, who wound up not playing very much. Check. They had to get a big game from Daryl Surgent, who not only shone in the return game, he also caught a touchdown pass. Check. They had to get Ladarius Green involved. He caught a touchdown pass just before halftime. Check. They had to throw the football. Blaine Gautier (the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week) threw for three touchdowns and threw for over 200 yards. Check. And, they had to play turnover-free football. Check.
But, as it turned out, they had to do even more.
They had to win the field position battle. They had to have success in the running game. And, the offensive line had to come up with its best performance in two years.
Check. Check. Check.
Now, let's look at some ups and downs from Saturday's game.
THE BIG UGLIES: Big, Big ups to the offensive line. They've been maligned for two years because of the Cajuns inability to run the football and their inability to protect the quarterback. Go ahead, say their names: Bates, Plouhar, Huval, Quave, Odom. The Cajuns rushed for 189 yards, 70 more than any FIU opponent had accomplished. They didn't allow a quarterback sack. Neither of the Cajuns' false start penalties were charged to them. They had one penalty early in the game for an illegal block. That's winning football.
HOUSTON, WE DO NOT HAVE A QUARTERBACK PROBLEM--Blaine Gautier had his coming-out party, throwing for 221 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 86 yards to lead the team. He did not turn the ball over. And, his 14-26 passing numbers would have been better had it not been for five drops. That's winning football.
BRETT BAER--How good is this kid? Eight punts, five inside the 20, four inside the five yard line. He did not allow a single return. And, he was once again perfect as a placekicker. That's winning football.
THE RIVERBOAT GAMBLER MENTALITY--Trailing 7-5, still in the first quarter, Coach Mark Hudspeth called for a fake punt from the Cajuns 28 yard line. Brad McGuire gained 34. The play didn't result in a score, but it did result in a Baer punt to the FIU 2....which led to a field goal on the next possession. Then, just before halftime with the Cajuns leading 8-7 and facing fourth and one from the FIU 41, Hudspeth called for the home run. Gautier executed play-action perfectly and found Ladarius Green by himself for a touchdown. That's winning (and somewhat crazy) football.
THIRD DOWN EXCELLENCE--The Cajuns' defense only allowed FIU 2/12 on third down...and o/2 on fourth down, including a run stuff on fourth and two in the fourth quarter with the Cajuns up by eight. That's winning football.
PLAY OF THE GAME: For my money it was a play with 5:07 left in the first quarter. The Cajuns trailed 7-5 and FIU had first down at midfield. Bernard Smith blew in and grabbed quarterback Wes Carroll by the leg. Carroll tried to get away, but Smith's tenacity not only resulted in a 17-yard loss, it also knocked Carroll out of the game. That kind of tenacity is winning football.
But it's not all hearts and flowers. This team still needs to work on some things.
CATCH THE FOOTBALL: There are still way too many dropped passes. Catch the ball, then run. The receivers were better, but improvement is still needed.
ACT LIKE YOU'VE BEEN THERE BEFORE--The two unsportsmanlike penalties are simply inexcusable. The throat slash was especially heinous. Come on guys, swagger is great. Showing your ass on the football field is not.
TOO MANY PENALTIES: Besides the two above-mentioned, the Cajuns had two false starts, two personal fouls, an illegal block...for the second straight week, double digit penalties and this time for triple digit yardage. This will cost the Cajuns a win this season if it's not cleaned up.
STOP THE RUN--We knew he was going to get the ball, especially after Carroll went down, but Kendrick Rhoades still rushed for 157 yards on 30 carries. That's not good. The Cajuns will face better running games and running backs. Improvement is still needed there.
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TACKLE ON KICKOFFS?--While some point a finger at Hunter Stover, the reality is no one on this team is going to kick the ball out of the end zone. That means you have to cover kickoffs. The one just before halftime could have been a back-breaker. Stay in your lanes. Make a tackle. Geez....
And, although this has nothing to do with the Cajuns, the officials blew an obvious block in the back by quarterback Jake Medlock on a 55-yard catch and run by Wayne Times. And, there was another holding call in the end zone on FIU's last possession that should have resulted in another safety. Those guys need to get better, too.
But, bottom line, the Cajuns had more ups than downs and as a result, made me oh, so wrong.
And I love it.
Now.....about that four-win prediction..............