Monday Rewind: UL vs. Tulane – From the Bird’s Nest
Saturday night's game at Tulane was one of those, that if you win it, you're euphoric.
If you lose, it tears your guts out.
And, if you're a coach, you get second guessed for...oh...forever. Because this game is going to get brought up again and again.
So, looking at this game through as neutral of glasses as possible, here's the good and bad from Saturday.
THAT RUN DEFENSE - Honestly, if you had told me the Cajuns defense would allow just one double digit rushing play and it would be for just ten yards, I'd have told you the Cajuns would win the game. Easily. Once again, the Cajuns' defense was prepared for their opponent. And, they were magnificent against the run. Simply magnificent.
MAKING THEM SETTLE---Four times the Cajuns turned the ball over inside their own 25 yard line. Tulane got nine points on three field goals.
WELCOME BACK, STEVIE--After a tough night against South Alabama, Stevie Artigue was superb Saturday night, making four field goals, all his extra points and doing an outstanding job on kickoffs.
GOOD JOB, FANS--Hotels were at a premium and so were the prices, thanks to a Beyonce concert and the Falcons in town. Yet, there was great support at Yulman Stadium from Cajun fans, who were nearly in as big in number as the home folks. Well done.
45.1--Steven Coutts average per punt. Through four games, he STILL hasn't had a punt returned. He's good, mate.
0-16--Tulane on third down. You can't get better than perfect.
OVERTIME DEFENSE---Bit on a pump fake, bit on play action, corner falls down. Three touchdowns. As good as the Cajuns were, discipline-wise during regulation, big plays just killed them in the overtime.
GARY HAYNES--I love the kid's fearlessness. But we've talked about the downside of taking chances on punts. The youngster paid a big price for a poor decision, having to be carried off the field with an apparent knee injury. And, that directly affected a muffed punt by Elijah McGuire later. All of this was so avoidable.
INJURIES UP FRONT--Right tackle Grant Horst did not play. His replacement was hurt as well, forcing the Cajuns to play OL out of position. Then D'Aquin Winthrow went down.. The offensive line was outmuscled for much of the game. Eventually they were simply outmanned. As a result, there was nowhere to run...and, for Anthony Jennings, nowhere to hide. (Ten points if you caught the Martha and the Vandellas reference.)
IMAGINATION?--Like I said, I don't second guess coaches. But on the last drive of regulation, thinking outside the box might have been good enough. I fully expected (and that's why it isn't a second guess) some sort of trick play to loosen things up and give Stevie Artigue a chance to win it. I was disappointed it didn't happen.
MINUS THREE--That's the turnover margin. And, while the defense gets kudos for limiting Tulane to field goals, reality is, if turnovers are equal, or even minus one, we aren't talking about the overtime.
FAILURE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE--Blocked punt. First and goal at the five. Three plays gain two yards. Had to have a touchdown there.
This loss makes this weekend at New Mexico State more critical than ever, and not just because it's the next game or a conference game. With App State, Georgia and Georgia Southern still to come, this team can't afford many more losses. And, before you chalk up NMSU as a win after their 52-6 loss to Tulane, note the Aggies had almost 500 yards in offense in the loss.