home sitesearch contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Football: Doherty used blitzing for big results

Football: Doherty used blitzing for big results

Football: Doherty used blitzing for big results

Bruce Brown

Texas A&M has a rich, winning tradition – one of the best in college football.
But on Sept. 14, 1996, the No. 25-ranked Aggies ran into something they’d never seen before as they were upset 29-22 by Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns.

It was one of those nights when preparation met talent and blended with the element of surprise.

"The thing we did, we were the first team in the South to be a true blitzing team," said Mike Doherty, a current Teurlings Catholic assistant who ran the defensive secondary for UL.
"We got that from Arizona, Arizona State and the (NFL’s) Cardinals. You see it every week now, but you didn’t see it in the South then. Generally trends start in the West and work their way across the country.

"A&M had a check-off system. If we did this, they would do that. We had some form of blitz on every snap. I don’t think they were ready for the bluff part."

The blitz-happy Cajuns forced eight turnovers and returned three for touchdowns to spark the victory. It brought attention to the Cajun defensive staff headed by Doherty and Jerry Beach, including one memorable call from – of all places, Texas A&M.

"I knew Bill Johnson on their staff," Doherty said. "We had coached together at Northwestern (State), and he called and asked if we practiced scooping up fumbles. I told him, yes, that we had gone to see the Cardinals and had picked that up from them.

"You could tell he was on a speaker phone, and once I started talking you had 10 coaches asking questions, all sitting around at the table. That was exciting for the coaches and players. It went on all year. It’s good for your ego."

The Cajuns had already gained attention after the opener at Florida, which would go on to win the national championship that year. While the final score was 55-21, Gators, four of those TD’s came from the UF defense.

"We got beat, but we just gave up 21 points on (their) offense," Doherty said. "We had a really good defense that year. We had people calling us all season asking us what we did against Florida.

"We came out of that game realizing we could win on defense."

Never was that more true than against A&M.

Damon Mason got things rolling with a 42-yard interception return, Charles Johnson ran a fumble back 17 yards for another score and Britt Jackson’s 30-yard pickoff and runback provided the winning touchdown.

All were under Doherty’s tutelege.

"It wasn’t our most talented group," Doherty said. "We didn’t have an Orlando Thomas or a Thomas King, but they were all really hard-playing kids. Britt was probably as good a cover corner as I had at UL. Damon was just Damon. He never graded out that well, but he had great instincts and a great motor.

"He would make mistakes, but would play through his mistakes and make things happen."

Such as the game-clinching interception which halted the last A&M drive.

A school-record crowd of 38,783 fans overflowed Cajun Field for the game, but if everyone who claims attendance had made it, the number would have been twice that.

"To this day, I get people telling me ‘I was there,’ " Doherty said. "But Kim Hebert, who played for us and is on our (TCHS) staff, had to confess to me that he and a friend listened to it on radio. He said, ‘We thought you were going to get killed.’

"There’s also people who tell me it was the greatest game they’ve ever seen, and that they’re so glad they stayed."

What those fans saw was the perfect plan and a perfect ending.

Originally published September 8, 2006