Despite their reputation for loud and expressive meetings, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s offensive line isn’t that different from most of their ilk. The group mostly toils in obscurity, rarely grabbing the spotlight despite the Ragin’ Cajuns’ offensive success over the past four years.
But when you’re the quiet taskmaster among that gregarious group, you’re even further in the background.
Octravian Anderson is the quiet type, a contrast to some of the outgoing personalities that inhabit the Cajun front wall. He’s not the jokester, and his offerings in those meetings are usually business-related, linked to the tasks of blowing holes or protecting quarterbacks. The Shreveport product usually leaves the jokes to others, even though he’s now one of the veterans in that room.
“I remember coming in as a freshman, kind of like the new guys we have now,” Anderson said. “I was looking around and thinking how was I going to fit in. Now I know that in time, everything’s going to come to you.”
He may not get the outside recognition, but his teammates and the UL-Lafayette coaches know how valuable the former Evangel standout has been — and how consistent. Anderson goes into the Sept. 5 opener at Kentucky having started 26 straight games at right tackle.
“He’s been phenomenal,” offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said. “Two years ago, he played just about every down. He wasn’t as big as some of the other guys and may have been a little behind physically, but he’s matured. And now when things come along, he just knows what to do.”
“Having that kind of experience there is just invaluable,” said offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue, who has worked with Anderson since 2001 when both were in their first years in the Cajuns program. “He’s always been a team player, but he’s come a long way, and now he’s one of our leaders.”
Anderson is the only Cajun projected to start in the same offensive line slot that he held last season, with fellow seniors Mykhael Quave (left tackle to left guard) and Donovan Williams (left guard to right guard) in different roles. That kind of consistency has played a role in UL-Lafayette’s four straight 9-4 seasons.
“It’s a challenge to keep that going,” said Anderson, whose abilities as a run blocker helped the Cajuns rank in the Top 25 nationally in rushing last year. “Every year, there have been questions on if we’re going to still be good up front with new guys stepping in,. But that’s just a challenge that you accept in the offensive line.”
Johnson said that Anderson consistently grades high among his peers, mostly because mental busts are almost nonexistent.
“He’s so good with the mental part of it, and that started back when he was still very young,” Johnson said. “The way he goes about his life just lends itself to success. That’s why he’s been so good for us. And between him and Mykhael, those are the two that need to lead us up front this year.”
That success included back-to-back state championship seasons at Evangel. And including his 2011 redshirt year, he’s been a part of four straight nine-win and bowl-win seasons. But success isn’t something he takes for granted, or something he uses as a reason not to do what’s made him successful.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in college life and lose your focus,” Anderson said. “That’s something I’ve always been able to do well, stay focused. My parents raised me well to do things like that, and it’s something I’m proud of as a player.”