e_SDLqIf we win this one, we control our own destiny. With the type of competition we have in this conference, I don’t think any team is going to run the table.” Mark Hudspeth, ULL coach
LAFAYETTE — When you’re trapped in a corner, the only escape route is fighting your way out, says University of Louisiana at Lafayette wide receiver Bradley Brown.
ULL finds itself competing to elude second place with three other Sun Belt Conference teams entering Tuesday night’s 7 p.m. game against Arkansas State at Cajun Field on ESPN2.
ASU (4-2, 2-1 SBC) and the Cajuns have identical overall and league records that have put them behind SBC leader Louisiana-Monroe (5-2, 3-0).
Brown, who along with ULL starting quarterback Terrance Broadway and ASU running back Freddie Jackson, played on the same Capitol High football team, said the ULL-ASU matchup is important, especially after the Cajuns’ loss to North Texas a week earlier.
“It was a humbling experience for us, but maybe it’s what we needed to get us back to where we need to be,” said Brown, a transfer from Northwestern State. “That loss kind of pushed us back into a corner, and if you’re pushed back into a corner, you’ve got to come back swinging.”
Brown’s role as a slot receiver (nine receptions, 111 yards) is expanding, especially after starter Harry Peoples did not play in the second half of the North Texas game, following a shoulder injury.
Broadway, who has started two games after injuries to Blaine Gautier, had a difficult time in the second half against North Texas, but Brown said Broadway (877 passing yards), won’t let that affect him.
“Knowing Terrance and what type of player he is, he is enough of a man to take that experience and then move on,” Brown said.
ULL coach Mark Hudspeth said the Cajuns have to be more proficient about turnovers against an ASU team coached by Gus Malzahn,a former offensive coordinator at Auburn, Arkansas and Tulsa.
The Cajuns, still among the national leaders in takeover ratio, had two turnovers against North Texas and didn’t create any, which is unusual, Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth said the outcome of the ASU game is critical for both teams, who are now chasing ULM along with North Texas and Western Kentucky.
“It’s a big game for both of us,” Hudspeth said. “We each have one (conference) loss. I think (ULL) will be hungry for this one, especially with the way it went up in Jonesboro last year.
“If we win this one, we control our own destiny. With the type of competition we have in this conference, I don’t think any team is going to run the table.”
The Cajuns are also 8-0 at Cajun Field in a year and a half under Hudspeth.
That’s important, especially for a game like ASU, said ULL placekicker Hunter Stover.
“This is a must win, definitely, especially since it’s at home,” Stover said. “Our backs are against the wall, especially after North Texas.”
ASU defeated the Cajuns 31-20 in 2011, after Red Wolves quarterback Ryan Aplin completed 20 of 32 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Aplin (1,591 yards, 11 TDs) is back this season and is expected to again be a factor, Hudspeth said.
“He is one of the top quarterbacks in the conference, a great field general and a veteran who makes plays,” Hudspeth said.
One of the Wolves’ new assets is David Oku, a University of Tennessee transfer who has run for 544 yards and seven touchdowns. Oku also has 11 receptions for 72 yards.
Malzahn said the Wolves need to establish more of a running game against a ULL defensive front that is one of the biggest in the SBC.
“We have to do that in order to be successful offensively, especially against a defensive line that is also very athletic,” he said.
Competing against ULL in a crucial road game will be difficult, he said.
“We’re playing a team that I know feels like it is capable of competing for the whole thing, and right now that holds true,” Malzahn said.
“The game brings big (national) exposure for our program, but at the same time, when you’re getting this type of exposure, you also have to play well.”
Instead of the usual red, ULL’s fans attending the game are being asked to wear white instead. Hudspeth said the color indicates a unity among the fans, community and the team.
ASU wide receiver Taylor Stockemer has receptions in 36 straight games, which ranks second nationally. Stockemer also caught two TD passes last year against ULL.