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Oklahoma State is heading to hostile territory

Oklahoma State hopes its young players respond against Ragin' Cajuns
By Brandon Chatmon, Staff Writer, bchatmon@opubco.com Modified: October 5, 2010 at 8:50 am •  Published: October 4, 2010

Oklahoma State has had surprising success in 2010.

On Friday, several Cowboys will experience something they've never felt.

They will walk into a hostile environment, at Louisiana-Lafayette, surrounded by thousands of people who came to see them lose. And they will hear about it.

"They're going to hear things they've never heard before. Hopefully, they can stay focused," said OSU special teams coach Joe DeForest, who played football and baseball at ULL when it was known as Southwestern Louisiana.

"In the past, the student section was pretty rowdy. They party all day, sit behind our bench and talk about your family, mother, dog. It's a fun, great environment."

For several upperclassmen, including linebacker James Thomas, it will be their first road start, the first time they will be counted on to make plays in an opposing stadium.

"I'm expecting a hostile environment, kind of like Troy," Thomas said, referring to OSU's visit to the Alabama school in 2007.

"The fans were so crazy (at Troy), and the benches were right by the stands. They were talking about my mama, my daddy, my granddad, they were talking about everybody."

One of the biggest unknowns is how OSU's young players will respond. The Cowboys are among the nation's leaders with 14 true freshmen who have played this season.

"How will they react on the road?" DeForest wondered. "Will it be odd because it's not the same routine?"

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Louisiana-Lafayette? Who are these guys?

Here's a quick look at some of the characteristics that make Louisiana-Lafayette unique.

* The Ragin' Cajuns have seven alums currently in the NFL, including Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, Seattle Seahawks receiver Brandon Stokley and Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme. Former NFL standouts Brian Mitchell and Orlando Thomas also attended the school.

* Oklahoma State special teams coach Joe DeForest played football and baseball at Louisiana-Lafayette, then called Southwestern Louisiana. "Great food, great fun, great people. I have a lot of good friends there," he said.

* Cajun Field, ULL's home stadium, is often called "The Swamp". The field surface is 2-feet below sea level in a natural bowl. In an afternoon game against Arkansas State on Sept. 11, the heat index was measured at 118 degrees at one point.

* The last time a ranked team visited ULL, quarterback Jake Delhomme led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 29-22 win over No. 25 Texas A&M in 1996.

* ULL defeated Kansas State, 17-15, at "The Swamp" in 2009.

* "Coach (Rickey Bustle) talks about these games as being map games. You win this game, you're on the map." — ULL beat writer Joshua Parrott, who covers ULL for The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette.

* "It's a festive environment. They have a day called Lagniappe Day, which means "something extra," which is basically an extra day off to party. The culture there is a way of life. You hear about New Orleans, but actually Lafayette is where it all started, it's where the French Canadians migrated to, so it's a great environment." — OSU special teams coach and ULL alum Joe DeForest.

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