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Story Archives: Cajuns Open 2012 Season at Cajun Field This Saturday vs. Lamar
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|Cajuns Open 2012 Season at Cajun Field This Saturday vs. Lamar|
After almost a month of preseason drills, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns football team will open the 2012 season hosting Lamar on Saturday, Sept. 1 with kickoff slated for 6:00 p.m. CDT in Cajun Field.
The game, which is sponsored by Sonic Drive-Inn, will be televised by the Ragin' Cajuns Network with Jeff Palermo, Scott Brazda and Erin Cofiell providing commentary. The contest marks the beginning of the 111th season of intercollegiate football at UL-L with the Ragin Cajuns owning a 62-37-5 record in the 104 previous home openers (UL-L did not play at home in six seasons) from 1907-18 .
The game will also serve as the 12th annual Herbert Heymann Classic, honoring the prominent Acadiana businessman, community pillar and Cajun fan who passed away in 2001 .
UL-L owns a 22-11 lead in the all-time series with Lamar, but the two teams have not met since 1989. After not offering football from 1990-2009, Lamar reinstated the program in 2010 and has gone 5-6 and 4-7 in the last two years.
The winner of the game will take home the Sabine Shoe, a traveling trophy named after the Sabine river, which helps to form the border between Texas & Louisiana. The Cajuns return 13 starters and every specialist return from the 2011 team that went 9-4 and won the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Nine of the starters back are back from the offense that set the school record with 420 points and was just the second to total over 5,000 yards of total offense (5,130).
The Battle For The Sabine Shoe:
The winning team in Saturday's game will take home the Sabine Shoe, a traveling trophy that goes to the winner of the UL-Lamar football game. Awarded for the first time in 1937, there is very little information available about the bronze trophy origin. It was named after the Sabine River, the 510-mile estuary of the Gulf of Mexico which helps to form part of the border between the states of Texas and Louisiana. The series has been idle since 1989 with UL having possession of the trophy. It currently sits in the trophy case in the main lobby of the Cox Communications Athletic Center.
Series vs. Lamar:
Saturday's game marks the 34th meeting between UL and Lamar with the Ragin' Cajuns owning a 22-11 lead. The series began in 1923 with UL winning eight of the first nine meetings (seven with Lamar playing as South Park JC). After a 15-year layoff, the series resumed in 1952 with the Cajuns going 2-4 in the 1950's. The teams played every season from 1965-83 with both schools being members of the Southland Conference from 1971-83. The schools last met in 1989 with UL (then USL) claiming a 42-33 victory. After that season, Lamar dropped football and did not sponsor the sport until 2010.
12th Annual Herbert Heymann Classic:
The home opener for the Cajuns each year serves as the Herbert Heymann Classic with Saturday's game vs. Lamar being the 12th edition. It serves to honor the prominent Acadiana businessman, community pillar and Cajuns fan who passed away in 2001. Heymann is credited with having the largest impact on UL athletics for any non-university employee. He served on the committee that was responsible for building Cajun Field. His fund-raiser tournament helped bankroll UL's golf team for many years while his behind-the-scenes philanthropy helped the program grow in countless ways. UL is 8-3 in Heymann Classic games.
UL & The Ragin' Cajuns Network:
Saturday's game will be the first of three games televised this season on the Ragin'Cajuns Network. Formed in 2011 by the UL Athletic Department, the RCN is broadcast to 17 parishes and almost 500,000 households throughtout Louisiana with Cox4 serving as the flagship station. Also on tap for the RCN this year will be the home games against Tulane (Oct. 6) and South Alabama (Nov. 24). The Cajuns had good success in the initial year of the RCN, defeating Nicholls State, Florida Atlantic and North Texas as part of a 3-0 season.
The Cajuns will open their 111th season on intercollegiate football against Lamar on Saturday. UL owns a 52-54-4 record in season openers. The Cajuns will be attempting to reverse a bad stretch as UL has gone just 3-18 in openers since 1991. The Cajuns are 2-4 all-time in openers against Lamar, winning in 1952 (14-13) and 1953 (22-13) before falling in 1954 (26-20), 1955 (19-6), 1956 (21-14) and 1974 (38-13).
. . . And Home Openers:
Saturday's game will mark the 105th home opener for the Cajuns with UL owning a 62-37-5 record in those games. Not included in that record are the six seasons from 1907-1918 in which Louisiana did not play a home game all season (1907, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1917 & 1918). UL, which carries a four-game win streak in home openers into this week's game, is just 1-3 in home openers against Lamar, winning in 1952 (14-13) before dropping games in 1954 (26-20), 1956 (21-14) and 1974 (38-13).
The UL football team is honored to include on their helmets in 2012 a decal in memory of 21-year old UL student Mickey Shunick, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle and later murdered in the early morning hours on May 19. The football staff worked with the Shunick family to come up with the design of the decal. It features a drawing of a woman riding a bicycle with her hands in the air with the name Mickey underneath, a design that has become popular among the friends and family of Shunick. "We're just honored to do this for Mickey and her family," head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "Obviously, what we do on the field doesn't even come close to the kind of courage and fight that she showed. We just want to remember one of our own in a way that would make her proud."
The Ragin' Cajuns carry a five-game winning streak at Cajun Field into the 2012 season opener, the fifth-longest win streak in facility history. A win would equal the fourth-longest streak, tying the six straight wins during the 2003-04 seasons. The record is 11 games, set from 1976-77, and there are also streaks of seven (1994-95) and nine games (1987-88).
Cajuns Have Players To "Watch":
After a 9-4 record in 2011, the college football experts took notice of the talent on the UL roster with five Cajuns being named to the various Watch Lists for the 2012 major college football awards. The list includes:
Player Award (Honors)
Brett Baer Lou Groza Award (Kicker)
Blaine Gautier Manning Award (QB)
Andre Huval Rimington Trophy (Center)
Darryl Surgent Paul Hornung Award (All-Around)
Darryl Surgent Jet Award (Returns Specialist)
Melvin White Senior Bowl (All-Star Game)
Five Named To All-Sun Belt Preseason Team:
Five Cajuns were named to the 2012 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team, which was determined by a vote of head coaches and select media throughout the conference. Senior cornerback Melvin White was the only member of the defense to receive the honor while Brett Baer, a second team All-SBC choice last year, was tabbed as a kicker but not a punter. Offensively, Leonardo Bates (OT), Alonzo Harris (RB) and Javone Lawson (WR) were each honored.
UL Picked To Finish Third In Sun Belt:
Building on last year's 9-4 record and third place showing in the Sun Belt, the Cajuns were picked to finish third in the SBC this season in a preseason poll of the league's head coaches. FIU was tabbed the league favorite with five first place votes and 92 points with Arkansas State finishing second with 85 points and two first place votes. The Cajuns were third with two first place votes and 81 total points, well ahead of fourth place Western Kentucky (70 points), who received the final first place vote. Troy was fifth (60) followed by Louisiana-Monroe in sixth (47), Middle Tennessee in seventh (42), North Texas in eighth (36), Florida Atlantic in ninth (23) and South Alabama in 10th (23).
UL Sets Attendance Mark. . . Again:
After setting the school record by selling 8,100 season tickets in 2011, the Cajuns have done it again, destroying the 2011 mark. With five days to go before the start of the season, UL has sold 10,141 season tickets, a jump of over 25-percent from last year. It is easily the highest number in the Sun Belt Conference.
. . . And Here Is All About The Last Time:
The success during the 2011 season was never more evident than at the box office where UL set just about every attendance record possible. In five games, the Cajuns drew 145,854 fans to set the school and SBC records for average attendance (29,171) and the SBC mark for total attendance. The total was a Cajun Field record for a five-game season, but fell short of the overall record of 163,143 set in 1976 when the Cajuns played seven home games. The 2011 season produced five of the top 15 crowds in Cajun Field history.
. . . Plus The Largest Improvement In The Nation:
One final attendance mark came in early February when the NCAA announced that the Cajuns had led all FBS schools with an attendance increase of 11,788 fans per game. UL averaged just 17,383 fans per game in 2010 but improved to 29,171 last year. UL beat out Arizona State, Stanford, Iowa State, Temple, Florida State and Oklahoma State for the top honor.
UL is one of only 16 FBS schools to return the head coach and all nine assistant coaches from the previous season, according to research by Coachingsearch.com. To take things even further, the Cajuns also bring back the four graduate and administrative assistants on the coaching staff and all three weight room staff members. The other 15 schools with their entire coaching staff back are BYU, Colorado, Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Miami (FL), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Oregon, San Diego State, Texas, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Senior kicker Brett Baer enters his final campaign as a Cajun within reach of the NCAA record for career field goal accuracy. In two seasons as UL's regular kicker, he has made 25-of-27 field goal attempts (.926), which is ahead of the NCAA mark of .878 by Florida State's Bobby Raymond (43-49 in 1983-84). Baer will need to attempt 18 field goals this year to meet the NCAA minimum of 45 career attempts. Baer made all seven attempts in 2010 and was 18-for-20 last year to lead the country in field goal percentage (.900).
. . . And The Baer Truth:
Brett Baer turned in one of the best all-around kicking performances in UL history in 2011, earning second team All-Sun Belt honors as both a kicker and punter while also being a semifinalist for the Groza Award, which is given to the nation's top kicker. Baer. . .
. . . led the nation in field goal accuracy, making 18-of-20 attempts (.900).
. . . ended the season making his final 11 attempts, leaving him three short of Mike Shafer's school record of 14 straight field goals made set in 1994.
. . . recorded the second-highest field goal total in school history (18), one short of the record 19 by John Roveto.
. . . was 46-for-50 in extra points, four short of Drew Edmiston's record of extra points in 2008.
. . . led the team with 100 points, the third-highest total ever and the most by a kicker. He trailed only the 114 points by Tyrell Fenroy (2008) and Brian Mitchell (1988).
. . . won two games with field goals as time expired, a 26-yard kick vs. Florida Atlantic and a career-long 50-yard effort vs. San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl.
. . . It Was Just One Bad Quarter For Baer:
Baer's only two misses last year came 75 seconds apart, going wide left from 48 yards with 12:30 left in the third quarter against FAU and then came back at the 11:15 mark and missed wide left from 25 yards.
Lawson Closes In On Receiving Milestones:
After becoming only fifth Cajun to catch passes for more than 1,000 yards last season, Javone Lawson begins his senior campaign within reach of a pair of receiving milestones. Lawson enters the Lamar game with career totals of 94 catches for 1,487 yards. He is six catches short from becoming the fifth Cajun with 150 career receptions and 13 yards shy of being the eighth player to reach the 1,500 yard mark.
The Line That Plays Together, Stays Together:
Blaine Gautier should feel comfortable under center this year as four of the five starters on the offensive line return, each of whom played in almost 95-percent of the snaps last year. The quartet of seniors Leonardo Bates (LT) and Jaron Odom (RT), junior Andre Huval (C) and sophomore Daniel Quave (RG). The foursome combine to have made 68 career starts, including all 13 games last year. Odom and Huval each played 925 of the 936 offensive snaps last year with Quave (890) and Bates (887) being not far behind. The fifth starter on the unit this year will be Mykhael Quave, the younger brother of Daniel.
. . .And The Line Features Size:
The offensive line not only features experience, but size as well. The five projected starters average 6-4, 308 pounds, giving UL one of the biggest offensive lines in the SBC. The left side of the line features tackle Leonardo Bates (6-5, 296) and Mykhael Quave (6-5, 300) with Andre Huval (6-1, 290) at center. The right side of the line starts tackle Jaron Odom (6-6, 330) and guard Daniel Quave (6-3, 324).
Inside The Numbers On Gautier:
Blaine Gautier emerged from a heated battle to claim the starting quarterback slot in 2011 and turn in one of the most outstanding offensive seasons in school history. Gautier:
. . . set UL season records for yards passing (2,958), passing touchdowns (23), completion percentage (.628), passing efficiency (153.6), total offense (3,444) and touchdowns responsible for (26) as a junior while also ranking fourth in total plays (462).
. . . set a single-game record with 492 yards of total offense vs. San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl and was sixth with 430 yards at Western Kentucky (10/22).
. . . his 470 yards passing vs. San Diego State was the second-highest total in school history, three short of the school record (473 by Erik Rekieta in 2003).
. . . also had 419 yards passing at WKU (sixth best), making him the only player with multiple 400-yard games in a career.
. . . tossed four TD's vs. North Texas (10/15) and La.-Monroe (11/5), one short of the school record.
. . . his career-high 32 completions vs. WKU was fifth best
. . . ranks fourth in school history with 27 career touchdown passes, needing three to catch Jerry Babb (30 from 2003-06) for third place.
. . . received first team All-Louisiana and Louisiana Offensive Player of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writer's Association and was a second team All-Sun Belt choice
. . . led the Sun Belt and ranked 14th nationally in passing efficiency (153.6)
. . . threw just six interceptions on the year, including none in the five games at home and he threw 157 passes over a six-game stretch without an interception early in the season
Gautier & The 300-Yard Game:
With five 300-yard passing games during his first season as a starter, Blaine Gautier tied Jake Delhomme's school career record. The career chart is below:
Career 300-Yard Passing Games
Rank Player Years Total
T-1. Blaine Gautier 2009-SA 5
Jake Delhomme 1993-96 5
T-3. Jerry Babb 2003-06 4
Jon Van Cleave 2000-02 4
The Cajuns take to the road for the first time in 2012, opening up Sun Belt Conference play with a 6:00 p.m. contest at Troy on Saturday, Sept. 8. The game will be available nationwide on ESPN3.com.
Photo courtesy of UL-L