Random Thoughts on UL/New Mexico State – From the Bird’s Nest
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns made it five wins in a row Saturday with their 44-16 win over New Mexico State in Las Cruces. I’ve already given you the scoop on what happened on the road trip. Here are some other thoughts I have after seeing the victory.
YOU GOTTA BE LOYAL TO BE AN AGGIE---The Cajuns have had their share of dark seasons, especially the years 1997-2004. But New Mexico State has had exactly four winning seasons in the last 50 years. I’m sure fans were optimistic when the Aggies began the season 2-0. Now they’ve lost eight straight. They announced a little over 10,000 fans in attendance Saturday. Before you laugh at that, remember what the Cajuns had in the final season of Jerry Baldwin. And, don’t look at what the announced attendance was back then. It was a lie.
NIXON’S THE ONE---Jack Nixon does the play by play for New Mexico State. A true professional, Jack has been the man for 35 years. That means he’s about to join a pretty exclusive group of broadcasters who have done over 400 games at their school. Amazingly, three of them (Dave Nitz of Louisiana Tech, Frank Hoffman of UL Monroe and Jim Hawthorne of LSU) are here in Louisiana.
RUNNING TO DAYLIGHT---Barring something really unforeseen, Elijah McGuire is about to pass the 1,000 yard mark in rushing this season. It’s hard to fathom only three other players have ever done it: Tyrell Fenroy (four times), Michael Desormeaux (twice) and Brian Mitchell. That’s pretty exclusive company.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A MASTER’S DEGREE to figure out the Cajuns’ turnaround in the 2014 season. In their first four games (1-3) the Cajuns were -9 in turnover margin. In the last five games (5-0) the Cajuns are +6 and have only turned the ball over twice.
ELI CAN RUN BETWEEN THE TACKLES---With Alonzo Harris on the bench with an injury, Elijah McGuire rolled up 136 yards on 26 carries. And, while that’s a really good night, it’s doubtful McGuire could do that every game. Those who have been clamoring for him to get more touches got their wish. But, rushing and receiving, you really want to keep it around 20, not counting punt returns.
DO NOT RUN ON THE CAJUNS---In four of their five conference wins, Louisiana’s defense has allowed just 100.2 yards per game. Numbers like that will make it hard for anyone to beat them down the stretch. Their biggest test will come at home against Appalachian State. The Cajuns will also face a solid back this week in ULM’s Centarius Donald.
THAT’S TWO IN A ROW FOR BUTLER---The Cajuns’ senior WR had his second game in a row with 90 yards or more, notching a career high against New Mexico State. In addition, Al Riles has been more active and it was great to see Jared Johnson haul in two touchdown passes against New Mexico State. That should do wonders for the sophomore’s confidence.
YOU THINK IT'S EASY TO WIN ON THE ROAD?--This was the largest margin of victory on the road since the Cajuns hammered Tulane 48-6 in 1990. That's ONLY 24 years ago.
WHAT? NO SIX? The Cajuns’ win Saturday put them at 5-0 in the league. The Cajuns have never been 6-0.
I REALLY WISH New Mexico State was a full time member of the Sun Belt. I’ve said repeatedly NMSU would bring a boost to the league in men’s basketball and goodness knows the league could use a boost. Of course, Tony Robichaux wouldn’t like for me to say that. He hated going to NMSU where the altitude and steady breeze was a nightmare for a pitching coach. But hey, I’d get more trips to El Paso and Las Cruces. Seriously, adding the Aggies would get the ‘Belt to 12 in men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball and baseball as well. That could only help travel costs, not hurt.
KEEPING EM UPRIGHT---The Cajuns offensive line has not missed a start again this season. It’s absolutely amazing how healthy this group has been during Mark Hudspeth’s tenure. Daniel Quave started his 48th straight game this past Saturday.
SPEAKING OF UPRIGHT—After getting injured against Arkansas State, sideline reporter Steve Peloquin is nearly back to 100 percent. He was hauling equipment Saturday, much to the consternation of Gerald Broussard, who fussed at Steve more than once. Sometimes Gerald thinks he’s our momma.