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Football: Backup knows game’s value

Cajuns face tough test on homecoming

Dan McDonald

Michael Desormeaux remembers well his feelings before UL’s last football contest with Middle Tennessee.
His Cajun team was 1-5 at mid-season last year, and was coming off a devastating 39-36 loss after losing a 15-point fourth-quarter lead at Arkansas State. UL had lost three straight since Desormeaux stepped in as a freshman quarterback following an injury to three-year starter Jerry Babb.

“After that loss (to ASU), it was a rough time and I wasn’t feeling good,” he said. “I felt like I wasn’t playing well. Coach (Rickey) Bustle told us all to relax and play, but I still felt strained because we needed to win one fast.”

The Cajuns went to Murfreesboro, Tenn., one year ago this week and pulled off a 13-10 shocker, rallying from a 10-0 deficit for a win that jump-started a five-game win streak to end the season.
When the Blue Raiders come to Cajun Field for Saturday’s 4 p.m. Homecoming contest, Desormeaux will be in a more all-around role while still the primary backup at quarterback. But he remembers his preparation for the 2005 game.

“I had really pushed myself to play well,” Desormeaux said. “The whole game we moved the ball. We had a lot of mistakes and killed ourselves on a couple of drives, but we felt pretty good about it and the defense was keeping us in the game.”

UL drove 71 yards in 11 plays for the fourth-quarter game-winner, with Booker Jenkins’ four-yard run capping the Cajuns’ best march with 1:04 left.

“There was really a sense of confidence,” Desormeaux said. “No one in that huddle felt desperation. We’d had good drives the week before and everyone felt good. That’s what football is all about, having your back to the wall like that and knowing you have to score.

“When we scored, words can’t describe it. It was like a weight off our shoulders. We had busted our tails all week, and to have it work out that way, it’s an amazing feeling.”

TUESDAY WORK: The Cajuns worked out for just over two hours Tuesday in full gear, its first time to put on full pads since Wednesday’s 6-0 victory at Florida Atlantic. Much of the session was spent against scout-team competition simulating looks, schemes and formations expected from the Raiders on Saturday.

“They do so many things with their speed that it’s hard to show,” Bustle said. “They blitz a good bit, but mostly they try to confuse you. They’ve got guys playing at the defensive ends that were playing other places last year, guys that can flat out run.”

INJURIES: More than a handful of regulars were in limited action Tuesday, but all seven players in the green jerseys could return to action by Saturday. Linebacker Mark Risher, who has missed three weeks with an ankle injury, went through almost all of Tuesday’s drills.

Running backs Tyrell Fenroy (bruised heel) and Chester Johnson (hyperextended knee), offensive linemen Brandon Cox (ankle) and Junior Ramos (knee), tight end Kevin Belton (illness) and linebacker Tre Green (illness) took part in most of the practice.

POW’s: Bustle announced his team’s Players of the Week Tuesday for performances in last week’s FAU win. Cornerback Michael Adams and defensive ends Rodney Hardeway and Greg Hathorn were picked as Defensive Players of the Game, and kicker Drew Edmiston was the Special Forces Player of the Game for the third straight week.

Adams had three solo tackles and swatted away a pass on the game’s final play to seal the shutout win. Hardeway had two tackles including one for loss while Hathorn had a pair of stops, and interception and a sack. Hardeway also earned the Hammer Award for the biggest hit on defense, while Mack Fair and Chris Lanaux won Kahuna Awards for the biggest special teams hits.

Edmiston had a pair of 44-yard field goals, keeping him perfect at 5-for-5 between 40-49 yards this season.

Scout-team honors went to Jordan Folse on offense and Seth Adams and Chris Johnson on defense.

Originally published October 25, 2006