From the Bird’s Nest: Ups and Downs from Nicholls State
Any time you win a football game, chances are there will be more ups than downs. Fans expect their team to improve as the season progresses and in many categories, Louisiana is showing improvement.
But that doesn't mean a LOT more improvement isn't needed.
Here's a look back at Saturday's win over Nicholls State
THE DEFENSE--Eight sacks. Thirteen tackles for loss. Three more turnovers forced (that's ten in three games). Another pick six for a touchdown. A fumble recovery that set up another score. Yes, it was against Nicholls State. I get that. But the Cajuns held the Colonels to under 100 yards net rushing. And, there weren't a lot of breakdowns on defense. I was most impressed with the play of the linebackers. Gibson, Kelley, Lewis-Buchanon and Johnson all made plays last night.
THE KICKING GAME--Hunter Stover was better Saturday. His kicks averaged getting to the six yard line. When Nicholls got good field positon it was more because of poor tackling than poor kickoffs. Brett Baer was, as usual, very good. The Cajuns got a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Kick coverage needs to get better, but special teams overall have been a weapon for the Cajuns so far this season.
FRESHMAN RUNNING BACKS--Qyen Griffen and Alonzo Harris both made contributions Saturday night. Griffen's durability is impressive. Harris can really be a weapon as he matures. This is going to be quite a duo before it's over.
BILL BENTLEY--The dude can play. Got his third pick and his second pick six of the season. That's four returns for TD's by the Cajuns' secondary in three games. Mark Hudspeth said the secondary was the best part of the defense. Mark Hudspeth is a smart man.
GAUTIER'S SPARK--For the second straight week, Blaine Gautier gave the Cajuns a spark off the bench. He led the Cajuns on a ten play drive that resulted in Brett Baer's field goal and then threw a 60 yard bomb to Javone Lawson to put the game away. Gautier wants to be the starter. Chances are he's about to get his wish.
GAMEDAY--General admission parking was gone by 2:30. It was, to say the least, a festive crowd outside Cajun Field before the kickoff. If you were there early, you knew it was going to be a special day.
THE RED ZONE--There's a difference between a crowd of 28,000 and a crowd of 28,000 that have passion. And, passion always starts on the east side in the area known as "the red zone." When those sections are filled and the student body is rockin' it, the atmosphere is electric. Good job, guys. (and girls).
OVERALL OFFENSE--The Cajuns had one drive in the game that lasted four minutes and that was the one that resulted in the Brett Baer field goal. The offense had just three drives that lasted more than five plays and only one that was more than seven. That's not good.
CHRIS MASSON--He deserved a pass last week because of the field conditions. But the senior wasn't very good last night. Just 4-11 throwing the football, two turnovers. He might have played his way out of a job last night.
LADARIUS GREEN--Three games. One catch for minus one yard. Had a good catch nullified by penalty and Masson missed him on what would have been a touchdown. But the numbers are what they are. Where y'at Pee Wee?
PENALTIES---The good news is the Cajuns had only one accepted penalty in the second half. But it's been a long time since the Cajuns were hit with double-digit penalties in a game. We didn't see that the first two weeks. Hopefully it's an aberration.
O-LINE IS GETTING BETTER BUT....still has a way to go. Griffen averaged less than three yards per carry. Masson was sacked twice. Too many penalties. They're better. That doesn't mean they're where they need to be.
TURNOVERS--That's seven in three games. That's too many. The Cajuns can turn it over and still beat some teams on the schedule. But they'll never win as many games as the fans are hoping if they don't get better in this category.
The Cajuns were good enough to win Saturday night. But there are a lot of things to clean up if they're going to compete against a very good FIU team next week.