Monday Rewind: UL/Boise State – From the Bird’s Nest
Well, alrighty then.
Game One is in the books and after Louisiana's 45-10 loss to Boise State, there are plenty of observations to be made:
And, most of them aren't good..
Now, to be fair, we have to put something into perspective: And, that's the fact that Boise State is a very good football team. They are especially solid offensively and anyone who follows college football knows that. In fact, I expected Boise State to put 40 points on the board. They're going to do that against most of the teams they play. Boise State is a very experienced football team and when you have as much inexperience as the Cajuns had yesterday (17 first time players saw action), that's not a good matchup. At all.
Now, taking that into consideration, here are some thoughts from week one.
THE GOOD NEWS:
The kicking game: Yes, Stevie Artigue missed a field goal, but he also nailed one from 44 yards. Stephen Coutts averaged more than 43 yards per kick and Boise State only had two returns for two total yards. The kickoff team allowed one return for under 20 yards and freshman Raymond Calais did a nice job returning kicks.
Anthony Jennings: His numbers won't show it, but the graduate transfer did a lot of things well yesterday when he wasn't getting knocked down. He showed he can run the football effectively, used good footwork overall and, most impressively, went through his progressions well. I spoke with Jake Delhomme after the game who said Jennings was "phenomenal." He said he couldn't remember the last time a Cajun quarterback was able to read progressions the way Jennings did. I do. It was Jake Delhomme. There were a couple of instances where Jennings checked down when I thought he had a chance to make a completion to a wideout. But I'm not going to hold Jennings too accountable because of the offensive line play.
Run defense: Overall, it wasn't bad. While Boise chose to throw it to move the football, Jeremy McNichols, who gained over 1300 yards last season, was held to just one good run on the day, a 17 yarder. Take that away and he averaged less than four yards. They need to be better, to be sure. But overall, they weren't terrible.
No turnovers: Again, this is a tribute to Jennings. As harassed as he was, he didn't throw the ball to the wrong colored jersey. Last season, yesterday's performance probably results in giveaways.
The Pride of Acadiana: Kudos to those folks, not only for a solid pregame and halftime show, but for sticking it out in the ridiculous heat.
WAITR: I've heard plenty of good things about the app that was unveiled at the game, where fans can order concessions from their seat and then go and pick them up when ready. Considering the app was announced just 24 hours prior to kickoff, it was solid. Now that the word has gotten out, however, we'll see how they do with a larger volume next week.
Those that showed up: Everything I've heard from our guests has been positive. The Cajun fans who came out early to tailgate were gracious hosts, as we knew they would be. Early morning tailgating isn't the best thing in the world, but those who were there made the most of it.
Now, here's the not so good:
Offensive line play: Downright offensive. The only good thing I can say is they only had one penalty in the second half. I honestly thought this line would have a chance against the Boise State front line. I couldn't have been more wrong. They were physically manhandled on a regular basis and every time the offense started to move in the first half there was a costly penalty. Anthony Jennings was sacked four times and had it not been for Jennings' ability to escape, it would have been worse.
The outside game: The Cajuns used screens to the outside many times during the game. They weren't successful because time after time, those responsible for blocking outside failed, and sometimes failed miserably. Those plays are part of any successful spread offense. This isn't a facet of the game where Boise deserves all the credit. Having a healthy Al Riles will help in the future. But the other guys have to step up.
Cover Zero: The Cajuns played a lot of "Cover Two" and "Cover Three" pass defense. But it looked more like cover zero. Boise State deserves plenty of credit for their passing game, but there were times where Cajun zone defenders weren't in the same area code. I'm guessing this, more than anything, was the reason Melvin Smith was fired as DC yesterday. It wasn't much better when the Cajuns played man, although there were a couple of nice plays made individually. Yes, Boise State had a lot to do with the Cajuns' ineptitude. But no one will tell you the secondary played well...at least not with a straight face.
No turnovers: Credit to an extent to Boise State. The Cajuns did force a fumble during the game, which was recovered by the offense. That was good to see. But the bottom line is a team that only forced eleven turnovers a year ago forced none in game one.
22,661: On Opening Day. Against the best opponent to come to Cajun Field since Mark Hudspeth became head coach. Pas Bon, Cajun fans. Yes, it was early. yes, it was hot. It's still a poor turnout. And, it was particularly disappointing to see a mostly empty "Red Zone." Hudspeth and his football team have come to expect more from the student body.
This football team has a lot of work to do, and they need to do it in a hurry. McNeese State will come in ready to play in a game that means so much to them. The Cowboys didn't lose a game last season. They have players who are good enough to come to Cajun Field and win if Louisiana doesn't play well.
And, if that happens, youth and inexperience will not be an excuse.