Sometimes it’s easier to trade disappointment for the prospect of opportunity.
That’s perhaps the message the Louisiana football coaching staff is selling this week as the Cajuns begin a run through their Sun Belt Conference schedule.
Louisiana failed to sustain a three-point halftime lead Saturday as the University of Minnesota outscored the Cajuns during the final 30 minutes for a 35-24 victory.
The loss at Huntington Bank Stadium plants Louisiana at 3-2, as the Cajuns transition into a more focused SBC mindset.
While Louisiana head football coach Mike Desormeaux shouldered most of the responsibility for the Cajuns’ defeat in Minneapolis, he reminded his players of what potentially lies ahead during the next two months.
“I think what matters for us is what we want to accomplish is still in front of us. There’s a lot left to play for,” Desormeaux said during his postgame press conference.
Louisiana is scheduled to play Texas State this Saturday afternoon in a conference game at Cajun Field. That contest also presents a chance for Louisiana to realign the season through a new lens, Desormeaux pointed out.
The Cajuns are already 0-1 in the SBC, following a 38-31 defeat at Old Dominion. Louisiana was in a position to tie that game on the final play, but a poorly-thrown pass ended that chance.
Desormeaux said the Cajuns set a preseason goal of playing for a conference championship in Lafayette after winning the SBC West Division title.
“We have a great opportunity in front of us. We want to win the West and play for a championship,” Desormeaux added.
Texas State defeated Southern Mississippi on Saturday. The Bobcats are much improved over last year after signing a number of players though the NCAA portal and reconstituting the coaching staff.
Second Half Problems
Against Minnesota the Cajuns again had trouble maintaining an apparently auspicious beginning.
Buffalo erased a 31-7 Louisiana lead two weeks ago and the Bulls were challenging for a tie until the Cajuns ended the game with a timely interception.
On Saturday Minnesota maintained second half possession with a running game that was not only effective, but limited the Cajuns’ offensive snaps.
Desormeaux was willing to take the blame for the Cajuns’ second half performance on Saturday.
“They (Minnesota) came out and showed who they are and ran the football. We have to find ways to do a better job in the second half. I thought we had a good effort in the first half, but we just couldn’t bottle it up. We had a good opportunity to win the game, but we didn’t follow it up,” added Desormeaux.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Zeon Chriss completed another impressive outing, with 172 passing yards for two touchdowns. Chriss also ran for 74 yards.
Chris experienced some difficulties in the second half.
Desormeaux said the Gophers apparently widened the defensive front to erase the offensive edge.
“We felt what we had was good, but we just couldn’t get out on the edge. I thought early we were moving the ball well and I thought we would do it again in the second half,” said Desormeaux.
Senior wide receiver Peter LeBlanc caught four passes and ended a first-half 75-yard scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception.
Placekicker Kenneth Amondares kicked a 28-yard field goal – his 18th straight which tied a school record.