LAFAYETTE — It wasn’t so much the pressure, Terrance Broadway says. It was more about the overall level of performance.
Broadway said the inconsistencies that plagued Louisiana-Lafayette offense in its first two games can be reasonably explained.
“I didn’t play well. ... We didn’t execute,” Broadway said. “There ain’t no pressure. There ain’t no pressure on me. Eli Manning — he’s 0-2 right now, so he can’t be playing that well.”
As the Cajuns (1-2) prepare to play a road game against Akron (1-2) at 5 p.m. Saturay at InfoCision Stadium, Broadway said the offense should function at a smoother level — especially after ULL produced a Cajun Field-record 456 rushing yards in last week’s 70-7 win over Nicholls State.
In ULL’s first two games — defeats at Arkansas and Kansas State — that wasn’t always the case. The Cajuns averaged 322 offensive yards in those two losses.
Broadway said he’s willing to accept some of the criticism for the slow offensive start.
“It comes with the position,” Broadway said. “Everyone’s going to talk. You just have to play better. That’s it.”
In the season opener at Arkansas, Broadway rushed for only 13 yards. Against Kansas State the next week, he gained 42 on 13 carries.
Broadway said the Cajuns are starting to realize their potential.
“We’re starting to get our groove,” Broadway said. “Before that, it was just bumps in the road. You don’t know when the bumps are going to come, but we have to face them when they do.”
In the Nicholls game, Broadway didn’t play for much of the second half, but he still completed 10 of 13 passes for 149 yards, including a 25-yard TD completion to wide receiver Jamal Robinson.
ULL offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said the early-season problems have some obvious explanations.
Johnson said Broadway was perhaps a little too hard on himself during the first two games.
“Terrance has very high expectations, which is a good thing,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, though, you have to step back a little bit. ... Was he pressing a little bit too much? I think he was a little bit. Terrance is a highly competitive person, and he is so concentrated on what he wants to do. I saw signs in the second half of the Kansas State game where he showed what he is all about.
“I think Terrance has always been hard on himself. During the past couple of weeks, we had him look at some of the technique things and fine-tune them a little bit.”
The Cajuns are also starting two new players on the offensive line this year along with returnee Mykhael Quave, who has moved from guard to left tackle.
Junior Terry Johnson is the new starter at left guard, and sophomore Octravian Anderson is starting for the first time as the right tackle.
Broadway said having new personnel in front of him probably made a difference at first.
“It took some time,” he said. “Me and (former ULL receiver Javone Lawson) didn’t start off so hot either last year. We didn’t get our groove on at the beginning, but once we did, everything clicked.
“Those first two games that we played this year, we just didn’t play well. We didn’t execute the game plan. That’s all. Expectations (for the offense) were right where they needed to be. We’re better than we played. That’s all there is to it.”
Johnson said the Cajuns’ offensive line has displayed improvement over the past several weeks — especially against Nicholls.
“It has been a little bit of a transition (along the offensive line), but I think we are moving on,” Johnson said. “(Nicholls) did some challenging things with how they were moving and twisting and blitzing and stunting. We were on the same page with our blockers and they did an exceptional job of picking that up.”
ULL entered the Nicholls game converting on only 39 percent of their third downs, while Broadway was sacked six times. Against Nicholls, the Cajuns were 5-for-8 on third down and gave up only one sack.
Johnson said the initial third-down numbers were discouraging because the offensive staff made that area a preseason priority.
Now, however, Johnson and Broadway said they’re not focused on the preseason or first two games. They’re in the past.
“It’s a new season,” Broadway said. “We’re 1-0 and we’re putting those first two games behind.”