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Football: Extra pressure helped the Cajuns beat ULM

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, November 1, 2015



UL Ragin’ Cajuns linebacker Darzil Washington helped the Cajuns pressure the quarterback.(Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser)



From Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth’s perch, simply was bringing it – better, and more – was key to UL’s second-half shutout of UL Monroe on Saturday night.

Extra pressure from UL’s defense, especially that provided by Buck defensive end/outside linebacker Darzil Washington, was critical in the second half of the Cajuns’ 30-24 comeback victory over ULM on at Cajun Field, Hudspeth suggested.

In his third game back after missing three with a separated shoulder, Washington was credited with one hurry and one tackle but seemed to make an even-bigger impact.

“(ULM’s Garrett Smith) had good time there in the first half,” Hudspeth said with reference to the Warhawks quarterback who finished 16-of-35 for 265 yards and three opening-half touchdowns.

“Their offensive line did a nice job. He had time to sit back there and complete some passes across the middle, a couple crossing patterns. It takes a while for a guy to get across the field.

“(But) we … got Darzil (Washington) cranked up a little bit,” the Cajun coach added. “He got some pressure, and I think that made a big difference.”

Smith was 10-of-15 for 186 yards in the first half, but just 6-of-20 for 79 yards after the break.

Washington started for the first time this season as UL, playing without injured Tre’maine Lightfoot (shoulder) on the inside, shuffled its linebacker look.

The Cajuns also got two sacks from linebacker Dominique Tovell, and one sack each from Mario Osborne (a huge one to seal the win), Blain Winston and Remaine Douglas.


Hudspeth seemed pleased with the work of his coordinators Saturday, especially after UL rebounded from a 24-9 halftime deficit.

“I thought (defensive coordinator Melvin Smith) and (co-defensive coordinator Charlie Harbison) did a great job there in the second half,” he said, “and (offensive coordinator Jay Johnson), I thought, just found a way to will ourselves with some calls to get us into the end zone.”


The Cajuns also got a halftime boost from linebacker Otha Peters and slot receiver Al Riles.

“It wasn’t fire-and-brimstone. It wasn’t just ripping,” Hudspeth said. “It was telling it like it was – that, ‘Guys, we are a better team than what we are showing; get out here in the second half now and do your job; let’s pick it up.’

“(Peters) called out just about every position. He was on top of his game. He knew exactly what he was saying when he was talking about the secondary, or the pass rush. Then Al (said), ‘Got to finish drives; can’t settle for field goals.’

“So they were talking the right things,” Hudspeth added, “and it was great to see that type of leadership, and the way our team responded was pretty special.”

Cajun players really were impacted, it seems.

“Al Riles and Otha Peters got everybody together and just said, ‘Man, if y’all have any heart just come out and fight,’ ” quarterback Brooks Haack said. “I think the team really, really rallied behind both of them and what they had to say. … When Otha addressed the defense, everybody really, really took it to heart.”


Safety Tracy Walker delivered a halftime message too, speaking directly to UL defensive backs.

“I pulled the whole secondary to the side,” Walker said, “and was just like, ‘Man, the team is depending on us, and we’re letting them down right now.’

“I told them, ‘Shut up; we’ve got to put everything on our back, because they’re depending on us and we’re giving the game away, and we can’t do that.’ ”


Hudspeth explained his conservative decision-making late in Saturday’s first half, which included saving timeouts when ULM had the ball late and taking a knee on third down.

“We hadn’t had any success. We were backed up,” he said. “And I … didn’t want to give them any more opportunity to get one more score before halftime.

“I said, ‘Let’s not force it down the field … (not) let the ball slip of our hands (and) they get a quick score right before half. Let’s get in there and get this fixed.’

“I just didn’t feel confident at that time with the way (starting quarterback) Jalen (Nixon) was going,” he added, “and Brooks (Haack) wasn’t loose at the time either. So I just felt like, ‘Let’s get in the locker room, regroup.’ ”