OXFORD – Ole Miss won’t be the only team at its homecoming desperate for a win.
The Rebels will try to snap a three-game losing streak Saturday night against a Louisiana-Lafayette team that has dropped four straight.
ULL coach Rickey Bustle apologized for his team’s performance in a 54-21 home loss to fellow Sun Belt Conference member Western Kentucky two weeks ago, a Hilltoppers win that ended a 26-game losing streak for WKU.
Bustle said he saw more spark in his team last week, but the Ragin Cajuns lost 38-31 at MAC-member Ohio in spite of picking off four passes.
“I can tell you this team is excited about going to Oxford to play,” Bustle said. “Listening to the guys talk, they are not giving up. Yes we came out flat two weeks ago, but that’s not the same as giving up or quitting.”
ULL ranks 91st in the NCAA in total defense, giving up 416.25 yards per game and ranks 1115th in scoring defense, allowing 39.6 points.
The Cajuns have allowed more than 50 points three times this year. They have been outscored 109-35 in games against BCS conference opponents, losing 55-7 at Georgia on opening day and 54-28 at home against Oklahoma State on Oct. 8.
Formerly known as Southwestern Louisiana, the Cajuns have a career mark of 0-36 against SEC opponents.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt began his regular Monday press conference by praising the fan base for the atmosphere it helped create at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in last week’s 51-31 loss to Auburn.
Nutt further reached out to fans in a video message on the school’s Youtube page this week encouraging them to attend in high numbers for the ULL game and “stay together,” presumably through this difficult season stretch.
“We all can’t stand losing, and I never want our guys to get used to that. It is unacceptable,” Nutt said. “We have to fight and really reach down deep.”
While the Cajuns have had their difficulties on defense, they’ve been successful with a pass-oriented offense, particularly in getting the ball to 6-foot-6, 230-pound tight end Ladarius Green who leads the team with 25 catches for 437 yards and four touchdowns.
Last week at Ohio, quarterback Brad McGuire relieved Chris Masson because of injury and went on to complete 25 of 39 passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns.
Masson’s status is unclear. He has started 20 consecutive games. This season he’s completing 53.6 percent of his passes for 1,512 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
Bustle believes there’s enough rage left in the Cajuns to win their final four games.
“Our guys believe in each other. They believe in what we are teaching them. When people ask questions about winning four in a row, they are going to get the same answer from every player because that’s what they believe. You are also going to get that from the coaches.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal