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Football: UL tackle Quave primed to start 52nd straight game

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, December 14, 2014



UL lineman Daniel Quave (67) is recognized during a Senior Day presentation prior to his final home game at Cajun Field. On Saturday, Quave will start his fourth straight New Orleans Bowl. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser)



It’s roughly akin to a no-hitter, perhaps even a perfect game.

UL senior offensive right guard Daniel Quave has not missed a start over the last four years.

He’s opened all 51 games since the beginning of his redshirt freshman season for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who have gone 35-16 during that span including three straight New Orleans Bowl wins. And he’s slated to make it a school-record 52-for-52 when the 8-4 Cajuns play Nevada in Saturday’s 2014 New Orleans Bowl.

Quave’s 51 consecutive starts are tied for the NCAA FBS active lead with the 51 of Mississippi State defensive tackle Kaleb Eulls.

The streak, Quave readily admits, has been on mind lately.

“I thought about it,” he said. “You know, I’m human. I definitely would love that accomplishment.”

Unlike baseball brethren, he doesn’t even mind discussing it all while still in-progress.

The key to it, Quave said, has been “staying healthy, and really just taking one day at a time, and just keying in my focus and what I’m allowing to be on my mind.”

When Quave says “healthy,” he doesn’t mean just physical well-being.

Rather, he said, it’s more about “really just staying mentally healthy – keeping a clear mind and just living.”

Each day, in other words, Quave goes about his usual business. Each practice, he works like any other. Each game, he gives his all.

No holding back.

There are no worries about large ladders, black cats or even talking in the ninth inning.

“If something was gonna happen, it was gonna happen,” said Quave, who typically plays deep into fourth quarters sans relief. “I can’t stop it from happening.”

He’s all about “just keeping my focus, and keeping the main thing the main thing with life.”

It was like that when Quave arrived at UL in 2010 from Gautier High in Gautier, Miss.

It didn’t change when his brother Mykhael Quave, UL’s starting left tackle, followed one year later.

And it stays that way today.

After Saturday, however, the Cajuns must move on without Daniel Quave inked in between center and right tackle.

“He’s definitely going to be missed,” said UL offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue, who looks to Quave to motivate others and keep his line united.

“I hate to think about life without Daniel on the football field,” Rodrigue added. “He’s been a mainstay at right guard and has probably graded out the best in his four years. His leadership has been very important to our success.”

His play, meanwhile, has been critical to the success of a Cajun program that went 9-4 each year from 2011-13 and that had some running backs with some impressive milestone numbers this year.

Sophomore Elijah McGuire went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a regular season-ending win at Troy, joining Tyrell Fenroy, Brian Mitchell and Michael Desormeaux as the only Cajuns to surpass 1,000 in a single season.

Earlier this season in a win at UL Monroe, senior Alonzo Harris went over the 3,000-yard career rushing mark.

“There have been so many linemen that come through,” Harris said, “but Daniel Quave, he’s a very special guy.

“He’s been a reason for a lot of yards, a lot of touchdowns. He’s been a big part of my stats,” added frequently in his career could be seen running over the right side. “You know, I think he needs more credit than he gets. If you see ‘Alonzo Harris,’ you need to have ‘Daniel Quave’ right behind it.

“He’s been a part of this process with me for the past four years,” Harris added, “and it’s just been a remarkable thing. It’s been wonderful for us.”

It’s been a pretty good thing for Mark Hudspeth, too, as he hasn’t had to worry about his right-guard spot for four years now.

As Hudspeth calculates it, Quave has been a part of more than 3,500 plays since he’s been head coach at UL.

“That’s unbelievable, that he’s stayed healthy that many snaps,” Hudspeth said. “Is that right? Yeah. 3,500 snaps. Holy cow. That’s a lot of banging.”

Hudspeth credits UL’s strength-and-conditioning staff for helping Quave to take care of his body, in part by limiting how much work he had last spring and in preseason fall camp too.

“When a guy has started that many games,” Hudspeth said, “we’re not gonna go into a stadium for three straight scrimmages during a two-a-days and scrimmage him for 70 snaps in all those scrimmages.

“Beating the crap out of him and getting him hurt or banged up is not gonna do any good.”

Much of the credit too, though, goes to Quave’s body itself.

He’s fought through pain at times – the occasional sprained ankle or sore knee – but ultimately has held up just fine.

None of UL’s offensive linemen, in fact, have missed a start this year – or any of the past four.

“We’ve gotten him to the games each week taking a little bit off of him,” Hudspeth said. “But he’s also done a good job taking care of his body, training. Also, he’s just a durable kid. Some kids are just more durable.”

For Quave, though, it really is about mind over matter more than anything.

He’s a pro hopeful at 6-foot-3 and 324 pounds, but feels his five years at UL have been more about life than sport as well.

“Being a player – that was the easy part, just developing my body and my mind,” said Quave, who started New Orleans victories over San Diego State in 2011, East Carolina in 2012 and Tulane last year. “That was the easy part.

“But just me becoming the man that I am today – the past four, five years – it helped me tremendously. Words cannot describe how it helped me develop as the man that I so wish to be.”

It’s why after so many starts – 51, with one more expected soon – the end will be so tough to take.

“There’s a place in my heart that will always be here with this university,” Quave said. “I’m forever going to be a Ragin’ Cajun. I love it. I’m just grateful.

“It’s more than just being a football player,” he added. “I can’t put a price on that. I’m just thankful for being welcomed, and having an extended family here.”