LAFAYETTE - All Devon Lewis-Buchanan has to do is remember last season’s Oklahoma State game when it comes to discussing the chronic problem of 2010 fourth-quarter collapses by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
ULL held a 21-17 halftime lead over Oklahoma State at Cajun Field Oct. 5 before the Cowboys stormed back to win 54-28.
Opponents outscored the Cajuns 140-36 in the final quarter last year, something Lewis-Buchanan hopes to avoid starting at 6 p.m. today when ULL opens the 2011 season against No. 7 OSU at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.
It will also mark the debut of ULL coach Mark Hudspeth.
“This year we’re working harder at finishing the second half and staying focused. It’s something we work on every day, to play into the fourth quarter and learn how to turn it up,” said Lewis-Buchanan, the veteran among the four starting linebackers who will play against the Cowboys.
Lewis-Buchanan said ULL also has to find ways at stopping Cowboys All-American wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who caught 13 passes for 190 yards against the Cajuns last year.
Blackmon, a junior, has 131 career receptions for 2,042 yards. Most of those catches have come from 27-year-old quarterback Brandon Whedden, another All-America candidate who has thrown for 4,533 yards in his career at the school.
“A lot of (OSU’s) big plays go to Blackmon, but I feel that’s not going to happen (against ULL). I feel if we don’t give up the big play, we win this game,” said Lewis-Buchanan, a senior from Riviera Beach, Fla.
Lewis-Buchanan will be surrounded by three linebackers who weren’t playing the position for ULL a year ago.
Seniors Lance Kelley and L’Marcus Gibson have moved from strong safety, while true freshman Trae Johnson, will also start, Lewis-Buchanan said.
Hudspeth said the Cowboys are capable of placing big numbers on the scoreboard.
“We just have to find ways of slowing them down. We’re not going to stop them. Nobody’s stopped them,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth said last year’s ULL-OSU video reveals that Blackmon was only 13 percent of the Cowboys offense in that game.
“What makes (Blackmon) so effective is you have to worry about him so much that it helps the rest of the offense. When he touches the ball, though, it usually means a big play,” Hudspeth said.
Oklahoma State series
The Cajuns are 0-7 in the series against the Cowboys, which began in 1986 when OSU won 21-20 at Cajun Field in the late Nelson Stokley’s debut.
In the last two games of the series, OSU has outscored the Cajuns 110-31.
At mid-week Hudspeth still wasn’t revealing his starting quarterback, something he said that might not occur until game time. Hudspeth said most of that decision is based on keeping OSU from knowing beforehand whether senior Chris Masson or junior Blaine Gautier will start.
Freshmen on the sideline
Hudspeth will bring much of his 2011 recruiting class on the road trip. He said that the Cajuns plan on taking 15 freshmen, with many of them playing against the Cowboys.
Stover to kick off
Hunter Stover, a redshirt freshman who played at Notre Dame-Crowley, will probably kick off against OSU, Hudspeth said. At Notre Dame, Stover’s booming kickoffs were rarely returned.