LAFAYETTE — For Louisiana-Lafayette’s football team, three things are absolutes heading into homecoming week and Saturday’s game against in-state rival Tulane:
“There’s no looking past this game, I can assure you that,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said Monday. “We had a 45-minute meeting last night, and we talked about the importance of this game. I went through and read to them all the scores (in the series) going back to 1911, and there were some pretty lopsided scores, and we’ve taken our lumps on most of those.
“For them to come in here and knock us off would make their season, so there will be a point of emphasis that this is Tulane, an in-state school. I know they got the message from me on how they’re expected to prepare.”
The Cajuns improved to 3-1 Saturday with a dominant 48-20 win over an FIU team picked by the coaches in the preseason poll to win the Sun Belt Conference. Meanwhile, Tulane fell at home to Sun Belt member UL-Monroe by a more-dominant 63-10 count to fall to 0-4.
“The record doesn’t reflect it, but they’re a good team,” said Cajuns tackle and three-year starter Jaron Odom. “They’re not at all overlooked. They’ll be ready to play ... but we’re going to be ready, too.”
They’ll be ready with Broadway going into the game as a first-time starter. The Baton Rouge and Capitol High product started the second quarter Saturday after Gautier suffered a broken hand on a third-down late hit in FIU territory. ULL added a field goal for a 17-0 lead one play later, and Broadway ran for two scores and threw for a third in the Cajuns’ biggest point output since the 2008 season.
“The only thing I’m doing different this week is taking more snaps,” said Broadway, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 228 yards against FIU. “The coaches haven’t changed anything. They’ve done a great job of helping get me ready and get me into the system.”
The biggest of his three scores came 43 seconds before halftime after FIU had crept back within 24-14 with back-to-back scores sandwiched around what was only ULL’s fourth turnover of the season. Broadway drove the Cajuns 66 yards in eight plays with his 4-yard burst making it 31-14 at the break, and he followed with a 78-yard TD strike to Harry Peoples on the second play of the second half to all but lock up ULL’s 3-1 overall and 2-0 league start.
“When you see your backup come in and play that effective, it says a lot about their preparation,” Hudspeth said. “Coach (offensive coordinator Jay) Johnson has done a great job helping him. When you have a quarterback of high character and is also a great student, that’s going to carry over to the field.”
Gautier is likely done at quarterback for the season, but Hudspeth said he’s not done as a player and could see action in the secondary after a couple of weeks of healing.
“I’m going to find a role for Blaine,” he said of the MVP in last year’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. “He’s a special young man, and this won’t be the last time he ties on the cleats this year. A broken hand wouldn’t keep a player off the field except at quarterback or running back, and in a couple of weeks he’ll be ready. He’s an athlete and a competitor.
“We’re going to put him at safety first, because he understands coverages and reading the quarterback, and he’s not scared. When I told him that was the plan, he looked at me like, ‘You serious, coach?’ and I said I was dead serious, and he was genuinely excited. He’d play left tackle if that’s where we needed him.”
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