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Football: Gardner, Smith Earn Sun Belt Player of the Week Honors

Duo played key roles in Louisiana taking down No. 23 Iowa State on Sept. 12

Ferrod GardnerChris Smith

 Ferrod Gardner                                                                                  Chris Smith

LAFAYETTE – Senior linebacker Ferrod Gardner and redshirt sophomore Chris Smith have been recognized for their big performances against No. 23 Iowa State by earning Sun Belt Player of the Week honors, the league office announced on Monday morning.
Gardner is the first Ragin' Cajun to earn Defensive Player of the Week honors since Jacques Boudreaux on Dec. 2, 2019, while Smith became the team's first Special Teams Player of the Week since Stevie Artigue on Nov. 25, 2019.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Gardner was stellar in the season opener, posting nine tackles and 1.0 sack, the first full sack of his career, in the 31-14 victory. He also added two quarterback hurries.
The senior was recognized nationally for his performance after being named the Walter Camp FBS National Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday, Sept. 13.
Smith provided a huge spark for Louisiana in Ames, producing a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the scoring for the Ragin' Cajuns. The return was the team's first since Raymond Calais returned two kickoffs for touchdowns on Sept. 2, 2017, against Southeastern Louisiana and just the team's eighth kickoff return touchdown in the last 20 years.
With the win in Ames, Louisiana earned its second-ever win over a top-25 team, the first coming on Sept. 14, 1996, when Louisiana defeated No. 25 Texas A&M, 29-22, in Lafayette. It was also the program's first win over a ranked team on the road.
The Ragin' Cajuns also received their first-ever national rankings in the modern era after the historic victory after being voted No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll.
Louisiana returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 19, when it travels to Atlanta to open Sun Belt Conference play against Georgia State. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. CST and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.