Sept. 18, 2012 06:27

 

Notes and quotes on the Ragin' Cajun football team, which needs this week's open date after Saturday's struggles at Oklahoma State ... Mark Hudspeth was less than happy when his UL football team went to the Boone Pickens Stadium locker room at halftime.

No, that's putting it too mildly. Hudspeth was mad as a hornet in Stillwater after the Cajuns looked anemic in falling behind 44-0 to Oklahoma State. It was 41-0 moments earlier before running back Alonzo Harris fumbled on the final offensive play of the half, allowing the Cowboys to recover and tack on their second field goal of the final 30 seconds.

"We're not going to put up with this crap," Hudsepth told ESPN 1420 sideline reporter Scott Prather moments after the horn. Other comments were broken up on a malfunctioning wireless microphone, which was probably a good thing since some profanity might have slipped out onto the airwaves.

"We're about to have us a 'Come to Jesus' meeting in here," Hudspeth added before going into the Cajun locker room.

"It was definitely that," said kicker Brett Baer on Monday, "but it was good for us."

Hudspeth was more calm Monday when talking about the halftime festivities.

"I voiced a little of my displeasure," he said during his regular press gathering. "After I went in and settled down a little, I told them we couldn't do anything about that half, and we just needed to go back out and win the second half. We did that, but it's a lot easier when you're going against second- and third-team guys. There are no moral victories."

The final 65-24 loss looked at times like several Cajun games of the not-too-distant past, when UL looked powerless to stop the opposing offense, and Hudspeth said he and the coaches took the blame for the most lopsided loss since he took over after the 2010 season.

"We put our guys in a tough position," he said, talking mostly about the defensive unit. "We had way too many looks and coverages against a fast-paced team. We have to go back and look at what we're doing. We're doing way too much on defense for the amount of newcomers we have."

The Cajun defense has been on the field for 198 plays over the past two games -- 102 at Troy in the 37-24 victory and 96 at OSU last Saturday. But Hudspeth said he's not concerned about the defense wearing down, especially with this week's open date prior to the Sept. 29 Sun Belt Conference home opener against preseason league favorite FIU.

"If you look at the way they've held up on the field," he said, "there's no question that our team is in great physical condition. Our guys kept plugging along even though they're playing a lot more snaps. We're not wearing down, but the open date does come at a good time. If you look at it, it's really the mid-point of our season if you include the five weeks of (preseason) camp."

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Despite Saturday's struggles, the Cajuns are still 2-1, and other than last year they've only held that record one other time since 1990. More importantly, UL is 1-0 in Sun Belt play and is the only team in the league with a road victory

That could be important, since all of the other teams picked to finish in the league's upper division have to come to Cajun Field this fall. Troy was picked fifth by the coaches, and the others in the top five provide the next three home conference games -- FIU (picked first) one week from Saturday, Arkansas State (picked second) on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and Western Kentucky (picked fourth) on Nov. 17.

Also of note: UL finishes its season hosting South Alabama on Nov. 24 and at Florida Atlantic Dec. 1. Those two were picked 10th and ninth respectively in the 10-team league.

"We're 11-3 since last year's Oklahoma State game," Hudspeth said, referring to OSU's 61-34 win in his first game as Cajun boss. "Now we have two weeks to gets things going in the right direction again."

BAER FACTS: Brett Baer's school and conference-record 18 straight field goal streak came to an end on his first try at Oklahoma State Saturday when he misfired on a 44-yard attempt.

"At some point you know it was going to come," he said. "I wasn't thinking about the streak, I was just upset at missing a field goal when I had a chance to help the team. When you start thinking about things like the streak, it affects you mentally."

It obviously hasn't been a problem for Baer, who shares the national lead for field goals with eight through three games and ranks 16th nationally in scoring with 11.7 points per game. He leads the Sun Belt in scoring, in field goals and field goal accuracy, and in net punting (41.0).

"Our kicking game is worlds ahead of last year," Hudsepth said. "And it's not just Bret. Our coverage on kicks and punts is number one in the conference. They (Oklahoma State) started on average at the 23 after kickoffs, and we started at the 25 on the touchbacks."

One number to watch for Baer is his field goal attempts this year. He's currently at an astounding .917 percentage on career field goals (33-of-36), which is well ahead of the all-time NCAA record of .878 by Florida State's Bobby Raymond (43-of-49 in 1983-84). But to reach the NCAA minimum standard of 45 career attempts, Baer has to attempt nine more field goals in UL's final nine games and make seven of those to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA Division I history.

CONSISTENT: UL has made only two starting lineup changes in its three games, both by necessity. Running back Montrel Carter injured a knee and had season-ending knee surgery last week after starting against Lamar, with 2011 starter Alonzo Harris starting at running back the last two games. Justin Hamilton started at nose guard in the first two games, but was suspended by the Sun Belt for last week's OSU game after being ejected late in the Troy game. Brandon McCray took over at nose guard against OSU.

Hudspeth said that not having Hamilton -- who led the Sun Belt in tackles for losses and fumbles forced through two games -- had an impact last Saturday.

"He's become a leader for that defense," Hudspeth said on Monday. "I think he would have helped us be more competitive and helped our rotation on the defensive line."

LAGNIAPPE: Even with breaking even 1-1 in turnovers Saturday at OSU, the Cajuns still rank fifth nationally in turnover margin with a +2.0 figure. The offensive front also ranks fifth nationally in allowing only one sack through three games ... On the spectrum's other end, UL ranks 115th out of 124 FBS teams in total defense and 118th in pass defense ... The Cajuns go into next Saturday's FIU game with six straight home wins, the fourth longest streak in Cajun Field history ... UL athletics director Scott Farmer updated the season-ticket sales total this week, bumping the record number to 10,860 as of Tuesday. That represents a 33 percent increase over the previous all-time best of 8,125 set last year. It's possible that number could reach 11,000 before next week's second home game of the season ... UL has set kickoff times for its final two home games. The Nov. 17 Western Kentucky game will kick at 6 p.m., while the Nov. 24 home finale against South Alabama will be a 4 p.m. game and will be televised on the Ragin' Cajun Network (COX 4 locally).