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November 14, 2009

Raider pass rush turns up the heat on Cajuns

One play in college football doesn't take long. A full 60 minute game is merely a collection of short bursts of action, which is the exact message head coach Rick Stockstill preached to his defense prior to MT's 34-17 thrashing of visiting Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

The Ragin' Cajuns, who had surrendered just four sacks all season, gave up five to a swarming Blue Raider defense that played one of its best games of the year after allowing an opening touchdown.

"Four to six seconds of relentless effort," Stockstill said. "That's about how long a play lasts and that's what we want to do. That is our mentality, to go as hard as we can for 4-to-6 seconds on every play. If it's a good play, forget about it and if it's a bad play, forget about it and then go to the next one. I thought we were very good defensively tonight."

Safety Jeremy Kellem had two of MT's sacks and he also forced a fumble from ULL quarterback Chris Masson, which Jamari Lattimore recovered to halt an advance by the Cajun offense.

In all, MT had 12 tackles for loss in the win. Entering the game, ULL had surrendered just 30 tackles for loss all season.

"We always expect to (be able to pressure the quarterback), whether we do or not," Stockstill said. "Our defensive coaches had a nice plan and we got guys that played really hard and that's what getting a sack is. You don't usually see somebody just coming scot free (at the quarterback). A sack is an effort play where you are going to beat the guy in a physical matchup, that you are going to beat the guy and continue to give great effort to get to the quarterback and that's what we did."

"Coming into the game, coach made it known that this was the number one team in the nation at not giving up sacks," Kellem said. "Once the game started though, I kind of forgot about that because once your name is called on the blitz then your mind is on getting the sack. We did a great job. We're a blitzing defense and an attacking defense and we are going to go out there and try to impose our will on them and that's what we did tonight."

After Masson engineered a game opening drive in which the Cajuns scored on a methodical 14 yard march, it looked like the vaunted MT pass rush might have finally met its match.

But as the game wore on, the Raiders generated pressure in a variety of ways with a variety of schemes.

With each passing hit on Masson, the Cajun signal caller looked more flustered, and he ultimately turned the ball over two times which led directly to one of MT's touchdowns.

"I don't think he is used to getting hit," Kellem said of Masson. "Our game plan was to go out there and put pressure on the quarterback, get some sacks and put him on the ground to cause him to make bad throws. We just wanted to put pressure on the quarterback and make him feel uncomfortable."

In addition to the sacks, MT was also credited with an additional four quarterback hurries.

The five sacks against the Cajuns give the Raiders 30 for the season, a mark that leads the league by a wide margin and could be ranked in the national top 10 by the end of the week.

The Ragin' Cajuns were one of just three teams in the nation that had allowed only four sacks on the season coming into today's game.


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