Ragin' Cajuns kicker Artigue in high gear nearing record
The season started slow.
A miss here, a miss there.
But Ragin’ Cajuns kicker Stevie Artigue has been on a roll lately, moving up on UL’s all-time scoring leaders list and fast-approaching a career record he’d dearly like to hold as the 7-2 Cajuns prepare to visit South Alabama on Saturday in the third-to-last game of their 2019 regular season.
Credit for the steady drive of late goes not just to Artigue’s leg, but also two other key pieces in the Cajun kicking unit — snapper Paul Boudreaux and holder Jarrod “Bam” Jackson.
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“Every week it goes a lot smoother,” Artigue said.
Proof of that came two outings ago, when Artigue nailed a 46-yarder to send UL into halftime up 10-3 in an eventual 31-3 win over Texas State.
It was the first make of the season from more than 27 yards for Artigue, who started the season 0-for-3 with three misses — including one from 42 yards and one from 44 — in a September win over Liberty.
And it left him pumped.
“It was pretty cool to hit that. It was super-exciting,” he said. “I haven’t had the feeling in a long time.”
For that, Artigue — a Lafayette High product who missed all of last season recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his kicking-leg knee — again gives credit to Jackson and Boudreaux.
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“That (one) was a lot easier to hit than if it were to be in the beginning of the season,” he said.
“Confidence and consistency,” said Artigue, who offered up an analogy to explain why things are better.
“It’s like getting used to your car, you know what I mean? When you have your car, you know everything about it. You know where you like your seat. If someone moved it back and drove in it, you’re like, ‘Someone drove in my seat.’”
It’s the same thing with snaps and holds.
“You know the ins and the outs of the whole process (with time),” Artigue said, “so … it’s more comfortable.
“You know when to go a little slower, or speed it up, or hit it a little different, because of how the ball is. But it’s a lot better now.”
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Artigue, whose career long is a 51-yarder against Arkansas State in 2017, isn’t alone in noticing the progress the trio has made.
“I think he’s doing better,” UL coach Billy Napier. “Certainly he’s practiced better. He’s performed better.
“And, you know, I think the people around him — that unit in particular — has performed better. I think Bam (Jackson) has done a really good job. Bam has improved at his job, as a holder. And certainly Paul (Boudreaux) has improved as well.”
The improvement doesn’t necessarily mean Napier will be more willing to push Artigue’s acceptable range farther out.
“We still kind of analyze the kick line each week based off the weather, based off the conditions, both directions,” he said. “Then we kind of go with that.
“We’ve always been pretty aggressive in the fringe area, and we’ll continue to that way, (because) there’s so much value to scoring touchdowns in the red zone, and we want to call the game that way and try to position ourselves for touchdowns.
“But when it is feasible to kick a field goal,” Napier added, “he’s done a really good job here as of late.”
After the Texas State game, Napier suggested the Cajuns were quite pleased to see Artigue and the unit hit from far out.
“Stevie’s one of those guys that has the respect of his teammates,” he said. “I think everyone wants him to be successful and see him do that.
“Everyone on the outside may not see that, but that guy shows up every day and you can see where he’s executed his plan.”
UL senior cornerback Michael Jacquet III confirmed Napier’s assertion.
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“I think that kick was bigger for Stevie for him to get his confidence,” Jacquet said of Artigue, who after starting 0 for 3 is now 6-of-10 on field goal attempts this season.
“Stevie is a great guy — a great kicker, and great player. He was just struggling. His confidence was falling, but now he’s back. You can see it at practice and it showed … with that long field goal.”
One outing later, Artigue went 2 for 2 — hitting from 21 and 28 yards — while also making all six of his PATs in a 48-7 win at Coastal Carolina.
The fifth-year senior is now 43-of-44 on extra-point attempts this season, with the lone miss coming in a win at Arkansas State after making 32 in a row to start the year.
With his 12 points at Coastal Carolina, Artigue passed Brett Baer and moved into fifth place on UL’s all-time scoring list with 258 points.
With 12 more points, he would tie running back Alonzo Harris for fourth place. Three other non-kickers lead the way: Elijah McGuire (318), Tyrell Fenroy (294) and Brian Mitchell (286).
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Artigue started the season in ninth place.
But there’s another career record Artigue has his eye on.
Baer is tied with former Chicago Bears kicker John Roveto as UL’s all-time record-holder in made field goals with 45. Patrick Broussard made 33. Artigue has 43.
“That’s been stuck in my head,” he said of the 45 mark. “I need to get it out.
“When I got here I said, ‘I want that record one day,’ and it’s crazy that it’s right in front of me now.”