From the Bird’s Nest: UL Puts a Country Whippin’ on Troy
Am I surprised the Cajuns came off the field winners on Saturday? No.
I thought if the Cajuns played well, they'd have a chance to win Saturday night's game against the Troy Trojans. They would have to do the things I talked about in a blog this past week. But if they succeeded, they would have a good chance for their fifth straight win.
But the Cajuns didn't beat Troy Saturday night. They dominated them.
Now, if you look at the total yardage stat, you might disagree. Troy wound up with more total yards than did Louisiana, outgaining them by twenty yards. But they also ran ten more plays.
Make no mistake, this was a whoopin.' The Cajuns kept the high-powered Troy offense out of the end zone until 9.48 remained in the third quarter. And, when Troy finally scored, the Cajuns answered just a couple of minutes later to put the lead back at 21 points.
The Cajuns offense went three-and-out only three times in the game. Troy had three of them....in the first half. Troy had another in the second half and the Cajuns stuffed them twice in the three tries they had on fourth down.
This was a game that was over by halftime. Now, some of you will say there was 30 minutes of football to be played and Troy could have come back and....well....technically you'd be correct.
But no. I'm telling you. Troy was a beaten team by the time they went into the locker room. The Cajuns were better. And, they knew it.
Troy put up a great effort in the second half. Champions do that. But the Cajuns were never in danger of losing control in this one, even when they had two straight three-and-outs offensively.
The Cajuns didn't beat Troy Saturday night. They dominated them.
Now, let's look at some ups and downs from Saturday's game.
CHRIS MASSON--He lost his job to Blaine Gautier earlier in the season. And, some fans have questioned a lot of things about Masson since he won the job from the popular Brad McGuire as a sophomore. But only a fool would question Masson after he stepped in Saturday night and performed the way he did. The Sun Belt Conference has deservedly named him Offensive Player of the Week.
DON'T RUN ON US--The Cajuns defense stuffed the Troy running game like they never have previously, holding the Trojans to 77 net yards. And, they did not allow a rush over nine yards in the game. I told someone before the game if Corey Robinson had to throw it fifty times, the Cajuns would win. He threw it 55.
SURE TACKLING--for the most part. Yes, Eric Thomas got away on the 27 yard touchdown reception. But that was one of only two plays that went for more than twenty yards in the entire game. When you limit big plays, you win.
PICK SIX--AGAIN--There's no doubt that Melvin White's 89 yard interception return at the end of the first half was the turning point in the game. It ignited the Cajuns and their fans and deflated Troy. Now, if White could do it without drawing a celebration penalty, that would be a good thing.
RUN, FRESHMEN, RUN--Alonzo Harris and Qyen Griffen combined for over 100 yards rushing. You can see them getting better each week.
PROTECT YOUR QUARTERBACK--Masson doesn't have Gautier's mobility. But the Trojans could only sack him once in the game. Good job by those whose job it is to protect the quarterback.
NOT A FACTOR--The one sack was provided by pre-season defensive player of the year Jonathan Massaquoi. It was one of exactly two tackles he made on the night.
29,775--The crowd gets big ups for Saturday, not only for their attendance, but also for their involvement. It was as loud Saturday night at Cajun Field as I can remember. The noise level on White's interception return hasn't been heard at Cajun Field in a very, very long time. And, I think the crowd can take credit for at least two of Troy's false start penalties. Teams in the Sun Belt just aren't used to hearing that kind of noise in a league game.
WIDEOUT WEAPON--Javone Lawson had some drops earlier in the season, but he's become a very dependable receiver. His touchdown catch of Masson's pass in the second quarter was a thing of beauty. Concentrate, catch, get a foot in bounds. Nice.
FEWER PENALTIES--The Cajuns were penalized only five times Saturday. That's half of what they've had the previous two games.
BETTER ON THIRD DOWN--The Cajuns have been near the bottom of the league in third down conversions this season. They were nearly 50 percent on Saturday and were 1-1 on fourth down.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN?--Before the season started, Coach Mark Hudspeth pointed at the inside linebacker position as the biggest cause for concern. Not any more. Lance Kelley and Jake Molbert combined for 16 tackles on Saturday.
A "BAER" OF AN EFFORT--The Cajuns specialist was once again special. He had three punts inside the twenty yard line, two of them inside the five. On both drives when Troy had it inside the five yard line, they went three and out. And, the Cajuns turned one of those into their final touchdown.
Well, okay, I suppose if you want to get nit-picky about certain plays, you can find something wrong. But, there was really nothing that was a pattern on Saturday that would be cause for concern. So, no downs for me.........
The Cajuns at 5-1 are off to the best start by a Sun Belt team since Middle Tennessee started 5-1 in 2001.
No SBC team has ever started 6-1.
The Cajuns have a chance to make history next week.