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Football: Cajuns focusing on self-improvement – Injury Update, OT, Award Time

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • September 6, 2008

For the second time in two days, UL’s football team spent a practice working on itself instead of an opponent.

With last week’s 51-21 loss at Southern Miss still on their minds, the Ragin’ Cajuns are looking fix their mistakes and rediscover the confidence they had after a strong preseason camp. That was the focus during Friday’s practice.

"We’re trying to get back our attitude and swagger and build up our confidence," said UL second-year defensive coordinator Kevin Fouquier, who previously rebuilt defenses at Florida International and Middle Tennessee. "We’re trying to figure out who we are, what we are made of defensively. We have to see who’s going to step up to the plate."

The Cajuns were a step behind most of the night against USM, which rushed for 427 of its school-record 633 yards. Damion Fletcher (222 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries) and Bubba Kirksey (110 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries) both topped 100-yard mark on the ground, while redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Davis ran for 63 yards and two TDs and threw for 206 yards and two scores.

USM fumbled three times, but the Cajuns were unable to grab the loose balls.

"We were real upset after that game," Fouquier said. "We didn’t have many mental errors. It was the execution. Southern Miss did a good job of coming out and hitting us in the mouth, and we didn’t respond very well. We got back on our heels and never came back at them.

"The effort was there, but it looked like we were in slow motion."

On offense, UL ran for 263 of its 394 yards. Quarterback Michael Desormeaux paced the team with 146 yards on 16 carries. But the senior went 9-of-20 passing for 98 yards with two interceptions and lost a fumble near the goal line in the third quarter.

Those were a few of the things UL worked to correct during its off week. The aftermath of Hurricane Gustav kept the Cajuns off the practice field until Thursday.

"We beat ourselves against Southern Miss," UL senior linebacker Antwyne Zanders said after Thursday’s practice. "The only way we’re going to win is if we know what we’re doing and practice getting better."

The game presents a fork in the road for the Cajuns: learn from it and move on or allow that frustration to consume the entire season.

UL head coach Rickey Bustle has seen his team moving forward. There were some positive plays made on defense. Sophomore linebacker Daylon McCoy, getting the start with Brent Burkhalter out for academic issues, logged a team-high nine tackles. Sophomore linebacker Grant Fleming made eight stops. Zanders had seven tackles and one interception. Sophomore safety Maurice Rolle forced two fumbles. Senior safety Derik Keyes made 2.5 tackles behind the line. Sophomore cornerback Orkeys Auriene hauled in his first career interception.

"We made some progress yesterday," he said. "I’ll have to look at the film to see what I’m looking for from today’s practice. The biggest things are (improving) our gap responsibilities and alignments."

The Cajuns will spend one more practice – at 9 a.m. today – working on improving themselves before turning attention to their next opponent in Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. practice. UL next plays at Illinois, which is ranked 24th in the most recent AP top 25 poll, at 11 a.m. on Sept. 13.

Fouquier expects UL’s defense to rebound from the Week 1 loss.

"We do have some good leaders on that side of the ball," he said. "We’ve been getting after them the past few days, and they’re responding."


Bustle said gave an update Friday on Tyrell Fenroy. The senior running back sat out the second half in the Week 1 loss with a head injury after rushing for 56 yards and one touchdown in the first half.

Fenroy practiced on Friday with limited contact.

"He went (to the doctor) today and had some tests," Bustle said. "He looked all right. But the doctor wasn’t there to read it and won’t be back until Monday."

Bustle said Fenroy is expected to continue practicing until getting a diagnosis from his doctor.

Senior wide receiver Derrick Smith, who sat out the second half in Week 1 with an ankle injury, missed a second consecutive practice getting treatment for his injury.


Redshirt freshman Brad McGuire stayed after Friday’s practice to throw passes to senior wide receiver Jason Chery and redshirt freshman wide receiver Ross Goodlett. Junior safety Phillip Nevels defended on the pass routes.


Zanders was named UL’s special forces player of the week for his play on special teams in the loss to Southern Miss.

True freshman quarterback Keldric White and sophomore offensive lineman Ross Graham shared UL’s offensive scout team player of the week honors.

Crowley native Kyron Benoit, a true freshman linebacker, was named the defensive scout team player of the week for the Cajuns.