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Football: Cajun coordinators making themselves at home

UL’s Anderson, Fouquier filling some big shoes

They got to UL within a week of each other, having come from different places but with similar backgrounds.

Blake Anderson and Kevin Fouquier each replaced coaches who were popular among players and with Ragin’ Cajun fans, but neither has yet to cast any aspersions on their predecessors in the UL coordinator roles.

They have each made changes – some more in form, some more in function – and they’re just as anxious as everyone else to see how those changes play out.

And so far, the players on their respective sides of the football have apparently bought into what they’re doing.

So has their boss.

"You hang around these guys for a while, and you see why I like these coaches," said Cajun head coach Rickey Bustle. "Both are very intense, and that reflects in all of our other coaches and in our team."

Bustle brought the two aboard not long after the 2006 season, replacing former offensive coordinator Rob Christophel and defensive coordinator Brent Pry. Both had been with Bustle since he took the UL job after the 2001 season, and the process was a gut-wrenching – but, he says, a necessary – one.

Bustle knows the importance of quality coordinators and the impact they can make. He’s been one on college football’s highest mountain, serving as offensive coordinator for Virginia Tech in the 1999 national title came. And, in a little-known fact, he’s also been a defensive coordinator, serving in that capacity almost right out of college at Gardner-Webb in 1979.

Ironically, Anderson and Fouquier both have Sun Belt Conference backgrounds. Both were at Middle Tennessee earlier this decade, and Fouquier was at Florida International last year. Bustle said that wasn’t planned.

"I wanted to get the best coach," he said. "I knew I wanted to continue the no-huddle but pick up the pace, and I looked at what Blake and those guys did at Middle and I knew it gave our defense some trouble. On defense, I looked at guys that had similar type talent and had made them better, and what Kevin did with the defense there (at FIU) was awesome."

Those stops, though, are where the similarity ends. Anderson’s a born-and-bred Texan and still sounds like it. He played collegiately at Baylor and Sam Houston State and coached at Trinity Valley – winning a national juco title one season – before heading out to coaching stops at New Mexico and Middle.

At those stops, he fine-tuned the high-octane offense that UL has implemented for this season.

"Guys I coached with or followed came up with bits and pieces of what we’re doing," Anderson said. "They believed in great tempo, being balanced, and being very organized and productive. I borrowed or stole some of their ideas … very few original thoughts have come out of me."

Fouquier, on the other hand, is in the midst a homecoming. A proud native of Franklin, he cut his first football teeth playing for legendary coach Dick McCloskey at Hanson, and later was a student assistant at UL for four years before earning his degree in 1989. He’s made nine coaching stops since then, never leaving the south, and also assembled ideas from that varied background to incorporate into UL’s package.

"At Middle, we took pieces of everybody’s stuff and came up with our own mentality," Fouquier said. "I’m fortunate enough to have been at some places where we’ve had good defenses."

Fouquier was at Texas A&M as a graduate assistant when the Aggies had the "Wrecking Crew, " a unit that had six high NFL Draft selections. But, all things considered, his best results may have come last year as FIU’s defensive line coach, despite the Golden Panthers’ 0-12 finish.

FIU’s defense jumped 50 spots to rank 27th nationally, ranked fourth nationally in pass defense and led the nation in tackles for loss. Two of FIU’s front seven are currently on NFL rosters, and that unit was a saving grace for a team that was an offensive disaster.

"I hate for an offense to sit there and dictate what the defense does," Fouquier said. "That’s not going to happen with us. We’re going to put our guys into positions to win and to create problems for offenses."

It helps that UL’s defense is working every day against a Cajun offense that’s hoping to thrive in the fast lane.

"We want to create a mentality that defenses have to prepare for us differently than anyone else they see," Anderson said. "You see some form of the spread every week now, but this package is going to be different."

The guy watching over his shoulder has been around offensive football for a quarter-century, but Anderson said that doesn’t add any pressure.

"Coach Bustle has given us a good atmosphere to work in," Anderson said. "He told me to do what we felt like we needed to do to score as many points as possible. There are no handcuffs on us."

By the numbers


UL’s football squad will wrap up fall training camp and hold its second full-scale scrimmage beginning at 8:30 a.m. today at Cajun Field. The scrimmage, open to the public, will be the next-to-last such session prior to the Sept. 1 season opener at South Carolina. There is no charge for admission and numerical rosters will be available.