News Articles - ULL
News Articles - ULL
UL's defensive football unit turned sack-happy at the end of the 2005 season, and that was part of the reason the Ragin' Cajuns won five straight Sun Belt Conference games to end the year.
Over the past three games, the Cajun defenders are starting to find the range on opposing quarterbacks, and it's not a coincidence that UL takes a three-game win streak into next Wednesday's Sun Belt opener at Florida Atlantic.
"Everybody's getting better at collapsing the pocket and corralling the quarterback," said junior defensive end Rodney Hardeway. "We're getting off the ball better, but more than anything else we're getting to use a lot of the moves that we learn in practice."
Officially, UL was credited with nine tackles for losses and five sacks in Saturday's 31-28 win at Houston. Hardeway, who has started every game since a first-game suspension, had one of those sacks and two tackles for lost yardage among his team-high seven tackles.
The Tyler, Texas, product had several other plays in which he didn't get a sack, but did disrupt standout UH quarterback Kevin Kolb's timing and footwork.
"Every week you study your opponent," Hardeway said. "You try to pick up tendencies, and you work on a move for those tendencies."
Hardeway said the "speed rush to spin" and the "skate" moves were effective against the Cougars. "You flip your hips and clip their arms as you go by," he said of the "skate" move, and the speed rush to spin is self-explanatory with the spin hopefully winding up at the quarterback.
The Cajuns got pressure into the UH backfield mostly with a four-man rush, with seven defenders dropping into coverage against the Cougar passing attack.
"It's all about collapsing the pocket," he said. "That's what we've tried to do the last few weeks. We started studying film today on them (FAU), going over personnel, and starting to see what techniques we'll use."
AWARD WINNERS: Hardeway and cornerback Michael Adams shared the team's defensive Player of the Week award announced Tuesday for their efforts against Houston. Both had seven tackles with Adams getting five solos including one that forced UH's final punt and set up the Cajuns' winning 18-play, 85-yard drive.
UL's offensive unit en masse won the offensive Player of the Game award for that drive, one culminating in Jerry Babb's four-yard pass to tight end Kevin Belton for the game-winner.
Kicker Drew Edmiston won the Special Forces Player of the Game award for the second straight week after kicking three field goals, matching his career total entering the game. Jantz Theriot won the "Kahuna" award for the biggest hit on special teams.
Connor Morel, who simulated Kolb on the scout team offense last week, was the offensive scout team Player of the Week. Fred Davis and Mike Schultz earned scout-team honors on defense.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: Adams may have gotten a hand on the deflection, but UL defensive tackle Marshall Delesdernier made first contact on the Cajuns' field goal block Saturday at Houston. That came on the last play of the first half and kept UL within 21-10.
It was Delesdernier's second career block. He had a blocked extra point in last season's opener at Texas.
BACK TO WORK: The Cajuns donned full pads for Wednesday's 90-minute workout, their second of the week, and will hold another similar practice today before taking Friday off. The team will hold its heaviest pre-game workouts, normally held on Tuesday and Wednesday, over the weekend because of the rare Wednesday night contest.
Linebacker Mark Risher (ankle) was still in a black (no practice) jersey Wednesday, while in green (limited contact) were center Chris Fisher (knee), guard Tim Falter (shoulder) and wide receiver Derrick Smith (leg).
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Edmiston, Wallace, Desormeaux shine on UL's special teams
UL's offensive and defensive units each has sore backs after two full days of back-slapping, so it was left for Ragin' Cajun football coach Rickey Bustle to throw praise at an area close to his heart.
Bustle said that a series of special-teams plays were responsible for the Cajuns getting back into Saturday's game at Houston, and jump-starting a rally from a 21-0 deficit to the shocking 31-28 victory.
Included in that number:
Kicker Drew Edmiston, after an early 50-yard field goal miss, nailed efforts of 23, 37 and 51 yards, matching his total output of the season's first four weeks and kicking UL's longest field goal in over a decade;
Redshirt freshman Deon Wallace, playing in his Houston hometown, broke a 65-yard kickoff return after the host Cougars' third touchdown had built a 21-0 lead, setting up UL's first score; and
Sophomore multi-tasker Michael Desormeaux, UL's backup quarterback who also played at wide receiver and nickel defensive back, took a short-snap fake punt 51 yards to the UH 5 late in the second quarter, setting up Edmiston's first field goal and cutting the margin to 21-10 at halftime.
"Our kicking and special teams accounted for a lot of points," Bustle said. "The kickoff return and the fake punt came at great times. That's why we work so hard on special teams."
Edmiston is now 6-of-8 on field goal tries this year, and the 50-yard miss Saturday was his first outside 40 yards. The 51-yarder 23 seconds before the end of the third quarter was UL's longest since Mike Shafer made 52- and 53-yarders against New Mexico State in 1995.
"He's very coachable," Bustle said. "I work with him 20 or 30 minutes every day, and we got him to change something he was doing that's helped him with his distance. If he misses a long one like that but he has the distance, I'm OK with that. I didn't have that kind of confidence in him three or four weeks ago."
Wallace rushed for 22 yards on five carries during the game in addition to his kickoff return.
"He's starting to gain a lot of confidence," Bustle said. "He played pretty good the entire game."
It was the fake punt, though, that may have excited the Cajun sideline more than any other early play.
"(Assistant coach) Brian Jenkins had been working on that fake," Bustle said, "and the first time we punted we got the look we wanted to get. The second time we decided to do it and it was the right time.
"We have a couple of fake punts, and we saw on film where they were lining up. We had a way out of it if they'd changed, but we felt if we blocked it correctly it could be a big play."
Edmiston leads the team in scoring with 30 points. Wallace is averaging 24.4 yards per kickoff return and Desormeaux's big run gives him a team-best 9.4 average per carry. Brit Framel (40.0) had his only punt for 41 yards on UL's first possession.
Congrats to the Cajuns……. Good Luck……My projected recoerd for 2006……10-3 including the New Orleans Bowl win.
Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:21 pm
Originally published October 11, 2006
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First player to claim award three in a row
No football player in Sun Belt Conference history had ever been named as Player of the Week three consecutive times until Monday, but UL quarterback Jerry Babb can now claim that honor.
Babb, who helped engineer the Ragin' Cajuns' 31-28 comeback win at Houston last Saturday, was honored as the Sun Belt's Offensive Player of the Week by the league office Monday. He became the first player in any category - offense, defense and special teams - to win the award in consecutive weekends.
"That snowball's starting to get bigger for him," Cajun coach Rickey Bustle said Monday. "He made some true Jerry Babb plays Saturday … he probably only had one bad decision when he threw back across his body, and other than that he played really well."
The senior's numbers weren't eye-popping, with Babb competing 15-of-29 passes for 146 yards and one score and rushing 12 times for 73 more yards and another touchdown. But the offense he skippered scored the last six times it had the football, including an 18-play, 85-yard drive that led to the winning touchdown with 1:02 left.
"When we were backed up with eight or nine minutes left, I don't think there was anyone in the huddle that doubted we were going to score," Babb said. "It's such an experienced group on offense. There wasn't a lot that needed to be said."
Babb's final four-yard touchdown strike to tight end Kevin Belton wrapped up a series of drives that covered 80, 62, 47, 54 and 85 yards on UL's final five possessions. Prior to that run, Babb had a 14-yard second-quarter burst for the Cajuns' first score.
"Jerry's a senior," Bustle said, "and you don't have to tell him too much because he believes in what we're doing. This team hasn't ever gone away from its belief, but the biggest growth we've had the last two or three weeks is how they've prepared themselves in practice for what we're going to see."
SPEAKING OF PRACTICE: Bustle gave the UL squad Sunday and Monday off, and the team returns to practice today in preparation for next Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. Sun Belt opener at Florida Atlantic.
Because of the mid-week game, Bustle said the more physical practices, normally on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to a Saturday game, will be held over the weekend. The squad will depart next Tuesday for Boca Raton, Fla.
"We'll work Tuesday (today), Wednesday and Thursday and probably give them off Friday," Bustle said. "We'll have some good work Saturday and Sunday, and probably go Monday night because we've got so many guys in Monday classes."
Bustle said he'll handle the odd week in his own way.
"Next Saturday, I'll be telling all of you that it's Tuesday," he said. "That's the only way I can get through it."
LATE START: UL and Troy are the only Sun Belt teams that haven't opened league play. Three teams have played two conference games and Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee are both 2-0. And even Troy will open before the Cajuns, with the Trojans hosting UL Monroe Saturday before UL's Wednesday game.
"I feel kind of like the party got started last week and we didn't get invited," Bustle said of the opening of league play. "So we're going to embrace the extra days."
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UL poised to extend three-game win streak
UL's football squad has won three straight games, and has allowed its opponents to rush for only 154 combined yards in those three games.
Both numbers will be tested Wednesday when the Ragin' Cajuns (3-2) open Sun Belt Conference play at rapidly-improving Florida Atlantic. FAU (2-4) brings a two-game win streak into the 6:30 p.m. nationally-televised contest after a 32-7 home-opener win over Southern Utah Thursday.
In that game, FAU rushed for 193 yards and passed for 295, both easily season highs.
"They're a very balanced offense," said UL defensive coordinator Brent Pry after the Cajuns' two-hour Saturday practice. "They'll run it, they'll play-action, they'll drop back. They force you to defend anything on any down and distance."
Senior defensive end Tony Hills and head coach Rickey Bustle were more to the point.
"It's power football," said Hills, who leads the team in tackles for losses (4 1/2) and sacks (2 1/2). "They're going to run it at us and it's going to be a physical game. I like the smash-mouth game … there's no thinking about it."
"They're going to hit you in the mouth," Bustle said. "They're going to run the power stuff, zone plays, give it to the tailback deep and let him find a crack. That's what they did to us last year and we didn't tackle it well. We haven't seen that kind of offense since Texas A&M."
Neither of those games spark good memories for the Cajuns. UL fell to Florida Atlantic 28-10 at Cajun Field in last year's league opener, a loss that eventually cost them a New Orleans Bowl berth. And the Cajuns had little success stopping A&M's running attack in a 51-7 decision back on Sept. 9.
"The last three weeks, we've picked up our game," Pry said. "The difference is we haven't let people run on us, and we know we have to stop the run first. This week it's even more critical because these guys are more aggressive in their approach to running the ball. We've got to win the one-on-one battles up front."
Hills and his mates have done that in wins over North Carolina A&T and Eastern Michigan at home and the shocking 31-28 victory at Houston last Saturday.
"We had some letdowns earlier," Hills said, "but now we're concentrating more on finishing."
The Cajuns worked out for two hours Saturday, with the format matching their normal Tuesday practice as the team prepares for the rare Wednesday night game.
"We had a pretty good practice today," Bustle said. "I told them before we started that everybody else in America was playing today, and we were working toward win number four. We needed two days of good Tuesday work. Last time (Thursday) wasn't so good, but it was a lot better today."
The squad had extensive work against scout-team competition before finishing drills with an 11-on-11 session matching the offensive and defensive units. Tailbacks Tyrell Fenroy and Caleb Rubin broke runs in that segment and quarterback Jerry Babb threw twice to backup wide receiver Ryan Finney, once for a long gain.
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Article published Oct 16, 2006
Cajuns prepare for FAU
To listen to the UL football coaching staff, the numbers don't tell the story on Florida Atlantic's defense.
The Ragin' Cajuns wrapped up full-scale work Sunday in preparation for Wednesday's Sun Belt Conference opener against the Owls, who rank 118th out of 119 Division I-A teams in scoring defense in allowing 42.2 point per game.
"A lot of that came early," said Cajun coach Rickey Bustle, whose 3-2 team takes a three-game win streak into the 6:30 p.m. ESPN2 game. "The last couple of games they've played well defensively. They do a lot of different things … we've seen three-man and four-man fronts this year, but not in the same game and we will Wednesday."
FAU took a 32-7 win over Division I-AA Southern Utah last Thursday in its home opener, allowing only 118 rush yards against a triple-option attack. Two weeks earlier, the Owls held UL Monroe to 122 yards rushing but gave up 285 in the air in an upset 21-19 win in Monroe.
"We know they're going to be very physical," Bustle said after Sunday's drizzle-marred workout. "They were more physical than we were last year."
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CajunBlog by Dan McDonald
The more you look, the uglier it gets
It wasn?t the kind of publicity that the Sun Belt Conference needed.
On a day when Arkansas State took a big win over Memphis, and after a week where Sun Belt administrators pitched in with Habitat for Humanity, sports fans across the country who barely know the league forged opinions after Florida International and Miami were involved in an ugly melee Saturday night.
Miami took a 35-0 win over the Golden Panthers, but nobody remembers the score. Everybody remembers the video of FIU?s Chris Smith and Marshall McDuffie punching and kicking Miami kick holder Matt Perrelli, Miami?s Brandon Meriweather stomping on an FIU player, UM?s Anthony Reddick hitting a Panther player with his helmet and an FIU player swinging a crutch at several Hurricanes.
The longer you look, the more disgraceful actions you see.
The fight?s over and the suspensions are mounting. Thirteen players were tossed from the game (eight FIU, five UM), Miami coach Larry Coker suspended three more on Sunday and FIU coach Don Strock will follow shortly with more. The Sun Belt and the ACC will get their say beginning Monday.
Nobody?s naive enough to think the fight just spontaneously broke out on an extra point. There were exchanges, words and unsportsmanlike actions almost from the opening kickoff, but Miami?s Anthony Bryant stoked the fire when he pointed at the FIU bench and bowed to the crowd after a third-quarter touchdown catch.
There?s no room for this anywhere in college athletics. All NCAA sports have stringent rules for fighting, some of them including mandatory suspensions just for leaving a bench area. Perhaps that?s what?s needed here. If neither team can field a team next weekend, it sends a pretty good message to the nation and to other teams.
By the way, television analyst Lamar Thomas, a former Miami and NFL player working the game for Comcast Sports Southeast, should never be allowed in a college football broadcast booth again. His squeals of glee and statements about going to the field and joining the brawl sends the worst possible message about the college game.
Condoning those activities, in this case, may be worse than the activities themselves.
* * *
Dan McDonald covers UL sports for The Daily Advertiser. He blogs daily for theadvertiser.com. Reach him at 289-6318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By the way, Miami is 19.5 favorite over Duke, suspensions or not….
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Come on "D" !!!
Owls prepare for Cajuns' spread
Florida Atlantic's defense is getting used to what defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza calls the "Urban Meyer offense."
Like four of the Owls first six opponents, Louisiana-Lafayette employs the spread option, with one running back, three or four wide receivers and the quarterback working out of the shotgun.
The difference this time, Hoza said, is that Ragin' Cajuns quarterback Jerry Babb "is probably the best we have seen this year."
Babb will try and lead the Cajuns past FAU (2-4, 1-0) when the Owls host Louisiana-Lafayette Wednesday night at Lockhart Stadium.
FAU linebacker Cergile Sincere agreed with Hoza about Babb. "He's big and strong and knows how to read defenses," said Sincere.
The game is the Sun Belt opener for the Cajuns (3-2), who return 16 starters from last year and were favored to win the conference in preseason polls.
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Article published Oct 17, 2006
UL, Florida Atlantic took similar early paths
Rugged foes to open year made it tough
UL opened its 2006 football season with a pair of games against nationally-prominent programs, and was popped twice at LSU and Texas A&M by a combined 96-10 score.
Florida Atlantic began its season with four straight road games at Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and South Carolina, and went 0-4 while being outscored 192-20.
Since then, neither team has lost.
"There are a lot of similarities in the teams we played early," said UL coach Rickey Bustle. "It's been a process of coming back and getting your feet back on the ground and playing like we're capable of playing."
"We never went into a funk in losing to those four teams," said FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger. "We knew we got experience and we learned the velocity and ferocity of the Division I game. Winning two in a row kind of validated that."
The Cajuns (3-2) have won three in a row and take that streak into Wednesday's Sun Belt Conference opener at Florida Atlantic (2-4). The host Owls already hold a league win, having beaten UL Monroe on the road two weeks ago.
The Cajun squad finished its Lafayette preparations Monday with a 90-minute practice, and is scheduled to work out at FAU's Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this evening after their mid-day travel.
Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. contest will air on ESPN2, the only nationally-televised game this season with two Sun Belt teams.
"It's a great opportunity for our program and for FAU," Bustle said. "It's the only game on in the country, being on a Wednesday night, so it's great for our community and our program and great for recruiting. But we can't worry about those things right now. The game is what we have to focus on."