LAFAYETTE — The defensive mechanics will be hard at work this week repairing areas of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette secondary, whose weaknesses were exposed Saturday during a 34-14 loss at the University of Arkansas.
ULL entered the game with three new starters in the secondary, and Arkansas took advantage of the situation, throwing for 230 yards and three touchdowns, said Cajuns’ coach Mark Hudspeth.
“We had too many new faces in the secondary,” Hudspeth said after the game. “We had to put too many in the box to stop (the Arkansas) running game, and that left the secondary one-on-one without help underneath, so it was sort of pick your poison.
“There will be a need to fix things in the secondary. It’s going to be a matter of finding who our best four are.”
The Cajuns started two new cornerbacks — junior college transfers Corey Trim and Cedrick Tillman — in addition to junior Sean Thomas of St. Augustine-New Orleans, a cornerback who practiced at free safety last week.
Thomas, who played cornerback during the spring and much of preseason camp, had a career game at safety, with 13 total tackles.
Only junior strong safety Trevence Patt began the game in the same secondary position he played last year.
By the end of the contest, however, Patt moved to cornerback as sophomore transfer T.J. Worthy was inserted at strong safety.
In an effort to stop the Arkansas running game, Arkansas uncovered an ongoing defensive weakness.
“We tried to stop what they do, but we weren’t able to stop what they (Arkansas) don’t do,” Hudspeth said. “We knew they were going to pound the ball at us with those running backs, but we thought we’d do a better job with the running game.”
Stopping Arkansas’ punishing rush was something Louisiana-Lafayette listed as a defensive priority, but the Razorbacks still had success, rushing for 292 yards.
Arkansas sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen made his second career start while completing 15-of-23 passes.
Two of Allen’s touchdown passes went to senior wide receiver Javontee Herndon, for six and 49 yards.
Herndon said he and Allen were a complementary tandem.
In the first quarter, Herndon caught a 6-yard TD pass from Allen. Herndon maneuvered through the Cajuns’ secondary again in the second quarter when he caught a 49-yarder from Allen.
“The first one, we had been working a lot in practice,” he said. “On the second (touchdown), he (Allen) threw it up, and I made a play on it,’ ” Herndon said.
Thomas said Arkansas did a credible job of changing line of scrimmage alignments, which caused the Cajuns problems.
Despite the defensive difficulties, Hudspeth said the Cajuns’ effort still has him optimistic.
“I like this team, and I like where we are at this team,” he said. “I would have liked for us to play better, but we are going to improve.”
Offensively the Cajuns got a career day from senior tight end Jacob Maxwell, who caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Inside linebacker Justin Anderson, also a senior, had 14 tackles.
Hudspeth said his kicking game performed well considering the Cajuns had a new punter, placekicker and holder making their first appearances.
“Right out the chute, our kicking game and special teams were excellent except for the missed field goal,” Hudspeth said. “We got some good, strong punting.”
The Cajuns had two new starters on the offensive line and another — Mykhael Quave — who moved from guard to left tackle.
Bret Bielema, making his debut as the Arkansas coach, said he has a favorable impression of the Cajuns.
“It’s a good football team. I like the way they handle themselves,” Bielema said.
Candona wasn’t the only Australian punting at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium. Arkansas junior Sam Irwin-Hill (Bendingo, Austrailia) punted twice for a 41-yard average.
Arkansas controlled the football for nearly a quarter more than the Cajuns. The Razorbacks’ time of possession was 37 minutes, 12 seconds. Louisiana-Lafayette had the ball for 22:48.
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