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Football: UL uses Hardeway to prepare for ASU

UL’s football coaching staff knew it had to do something about Arkansas State quarterback Corey Leonard.

They knew, after recruiting him two years ago out of Covington, what he was capable of doing.

"He’d hurt some people scrambling around," said Cajun coach Rickey Bustle.

Late in the first half Saturday evening at Cajun Field, UL set up its own version of a "spy" network, with Rodney Hardeway starring as secret agent number 90. The Cajuns can likely credit that spying for their 28-13 victory over the Indians, one that kept their hopes of a winning season alive.

Hardeway, UL’s junior defensive end from Tyler, Texas, spent most of the final two and one-half quarters standing upright instead of his normal down stance. His only job was to "spy" Leonard, mimicking the Indian quarterback’s movements.

"We knew we had to contain him, keep him bottled up and in the pocket," said Hardeway, who finished with seven tackles including one sack and forced a key first-half fumble. "In that look, I stand up like a linebacker and I went where he went. I loved that."

"It’s a front we call bandit," said tackle Joe Bradley, who had two stops for losses and a fumble recovery that set up UL’s go-ahead touchdown. "We’d practiced it a couple of weeks, and our coaches said this would be a good team to use it against. They do a great job of recognizing what other teams do."

The Indians had 223 offensive yards on its first four possessions, and only 142 on its last eight after the six-minute mark of the second quarter.

"They’re a good defensive team and they had a good scheme," said Leonard, who finished with 64 rush yards on 16 carries and was only 13-of-30 passing for 132 yards. "When you go against a defense like that when they’re spying, there should be somewhere else they’re weak at. We didn’t do a good job of finding those places."

ASU converted four of its first six third-downs in bursting out to a 10-7 lead, but only had one conversion the rest of the game and managed only a lone field goal on its last nine possessions.

"Rodney made a heck of a play a couple of times," Bustle said. "A lot of times he (Leonard) had some time back there, but it was because we were only rushing three guys and Rodney was spying on him."

"The biggest key was we were able to get three-man heat on him in the second half," said defensive coordinator Brent Pry. "That made the difference on some key third downs. He had to get rid of it quicker than he wanted and they got a little flustered."

The Cajuns’ defense has allowed only three touchdowns and 27 points over the last two and one-half games. ASU’s only scoring in the second half came four plays after one of the Cajuns’ two turnovers, and the other drives ended twice on downs, twice on punts and once on a blocked field goal.

Indian tailback Reggie Arnold rambled for 156 yards, but only 46 of those came after halftime.

"Coach Bustle got us all riled up when we went in at halftime," Bradley said. "He said we had to stop their guys up front and put them in some passing situations. They were running up the field on us in the first half. There’s no way around it, we had to stop them."

Because they were able to do that, the Cajuns are in a position for a second straight winning season and their first seven-win season in over a decade.

"Six wins and winning at home," Bradley said. "I’m loving it."