LAFAYETTE — When routines were rearranged and changes became part of the weekly plan, seniors Octravian Anderson and Donovan Williams relied on the strength of a group.
For a University of Louisiana at Lafayette offensive line that had remained largely injury-free during the past four years, change came quickly when senior Mykhael Quave saw his season come to an end against Louisiana Tech due to a torn rotator cuff. The blow was a departure of both physical skill and verbal leadership.
“It was definitely challenging,” Williams, a guard, said. “You want to have that chemistry. Mykhael is a hard person to replace. He is a great leader on the field and that level of production you are missing from a guy who has started since he was a freshman.”
For Anderson, who is set to start his 38th consecutive game at right tackle when the Cajuns host Troy on Saturday, the task required a concentrated effort.
“It just requires more focus,” Anderson said. “When you wake up every morning and do the same thing, it gets pretty routine. When you wake up every morning and do something different and you don’t know what to expect, things get pretty challenging. But I don’t feel as if that is a problem.”
In the previous four years, challenges were answered during season-long runs to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the New Orleans Bowl. Although that will not be the destination this time for the Cajuns (4-7), some dynamics remain the same.
“The seniors who have been here for five years, it’s kind of like we are really brothers,” Anderson said. “You see the same guys every morning. It’s like you live together in the dorms. Some of us branch out and get apartments, but you still see them every day. We may not be blood related, but we are as close as anyone can be with brothers.”
Williams’ introduction to the offensive line came more recently than that five-year group of red-shirt seniors. Williams is a San Antonio native who transferred to the Cajuns from Blinn College. He started every game at left guard as a junior last season before answering the call at right guard when needed this year. Being ready for that duty required Williams to use his eyes and ears to absorb the instruction of Cajuns offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue.
“He has helped me a lot,” Williams said. “When I first got here, I thought I knew everything. He showed me how to refine my game and get better.”
Those practice moments outside of the games are part of the whole package that Anderson has experienced since he came to the Cajuns out of Evangel Christian Academy. “The hard practices and the good practices ... I’m thankful to be a part of it,” Anderson said.
For two seniors, it continues against Troy this weekend.
“This will be my last game as a Ragin’ Cajun. That’s pretty big,” Williams said. “It could possibly be the last football game I’ll ever play. I’m grateful for the season we have had.”