Coming off last week's 36-31 over reigning Sun Belt co-champion Florida International, Cajun Field should be rocking this weekend once it's time for kickoff.
"With the way the fans showed up for the first (home game), I will be shocked if it is not standing-room only," Hudspeth said. "I want to encourage our fans again that we need that atmosphere times two to make it a tough place to play. We made it a hard place to play in game one. It got loud. But now we've got to rise up to another level as we've got our conference foe coming to Cajun Field."
The Cajuns and FAU are two programs moving in different directions so far this season.
Hudspeth has provided a much-needed spark in his first year for the Cajuns, who have matched last season's win total only four games into his tenure on campus. They've also already won two road games this year, quite a feat for a program that last had more than two road wins in a single season in 2006 (three).
FAU, meanwhile, has won four straight in the series but opened 0-3 this season with losses at Florida, Michigan State and Auburn by a combined 115-17 margin. It's also the final season for the Owls under legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger, who started the program and led it to one Sun Belt championship and two bowl wins.
"I told them (my players) not to look at the schedule, and if you do to look at the teams they played," Hudspeth said of FAU. "All three teams they played at one point this year were in the top 25. They have played the hardest schedule by far in the Sun Belt Conference. This is not a typical 0-3 team coming into Cajun Field."
Receiver Andrew "Rico" Joseph is especially eager to beat FAU. The senior from Royal Palm Beach, Fla., is 0-2 against the Owls.
"We haven't beaten FAU since I've been here," Joseph said. "That makes it personal."
--The Sun Belt Conference and Louisiana Sports Writers Association both honored QB Blaine Gautier as its Offensive Player of the week. The junior accounted for 307 of the team's season-high 419 yards with three touchdown passes in a win over Florida International.
--The Cajuns lead the Sun Belt in numerous categories so far this season, including scoring (32 points per game) and total touchdowns (15). On defense they're first in interceptions (six), sacks (15) and tackles for loss (35.0). They had 17 sacks all of last season.
--K/P Brett Baer helped the Cajuns win the battle of field position, placing five of his eight punts inside FIU's 20-yard line. The junior also made both of his field-goal attempts and was 4-of-4 on extra points.
FAU leads 5-1 (last meeting, 2010, 24-23 FAU in Boca Raton).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE:
The Cajuns are coming off their best offensive performance of the year but are 108th nationally out of 120 teams in total offense (294.5 yards per game) and 109th in pass offense (157 yards per game). RB Alonzo Harris has 21 carries for 130 yards and one score in the past two games. FAU has allowed 115 points in three games, including 40-plus to Florida and Michigan State.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE:
Last week proved to be a test as FIU gained 414 yards against the Cajuns despite being without its QB Wesley Carroll and WR T.Y. Hilton for most of the night. The Cajuns are tied for the national lead in sacks and tackles for loss. FAU returns a quality RB in senior Alfred Morris but is last nationally in rush offense, total offense and scoring offense.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"It's all about motivation. It's about finding ways to get in your players' heads to motivate them, to get the most out of them, get them to execute and play hard." --Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth on letting his players wear black helmets and pants last week at FIU
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME:
FAU at Louisiana, Oct. 1 -- FAU has won four straight in the series but is 0-3 this year, while the Cajuns are off to a 3-1 start. This is the first season for the Cajuns under coach Mark Hudspeth and the last for the Owls with Howard Schnellenberger on the sideline.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Contain FAU's running game. The Owls have 17 points and 160 rushing yards in three games. FAU RB Alfred Morris, who ran for more than 2,300 yards combined as a sophomore and junior, rushed for 85 yards last week against Auburn. The Cajuns were vulnerable last week against the run as FIU RB Kedrick Rhodes ran for 157 yards and three scores.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
LB Lance Kelley -- The senior is tied for second in the Sun Belt this year in pass breakups (5), tied for fourth in tackles for loss (5.0) and is fifth in total tackles (31). A converted receiver and safety, Kelley also is tied for sixth in the league in sacks (two).
QB Blaine Gautier -- The newly anointed starter is fourth in the conference in pass efficiency rating (137.2). The junior has passed for 433 yards with four touchdowns and one interception this year and rushed for 175 yards and one score on 41 carries.
K/P Brett Baer -- The junior has been perfect so far this season on field goals (7-of-7) and extra points (15-of-15). He leads the league in 50-yard punts (seven) and punts inside the 20 (12) and is tied for the Sun Belt scoring lead with 36 points.
--DE Aaron Thibodeaux is out with an undisclosed injury. The redshirt freshman spent last week in the hospital. He has one tackle in one game this season.
--WR Darryl Surgent (knee laceration) and QB Blaine Gautier (bruised shin) left last week's win over FIU but returned later