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Football: Hardeway leads revived sack pack

Dan McDonald

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).

Originally published October 12, 2006