YouTube helped UL's Jackson learn to hold for Artigue
MOBILE, Ala. — When he kicks for the final time as a Ragin’ Cajun in Monday night’s LendingTree Bowl here, senior Stevie Artigue will do it with confidence in a holder who learned his craft in less-than-conventional fashion.
Before getting to sleep around midnight one night, Bam Jackson watched a YouTube video that showed how to properly spin the ball so that the laces were in the right place.
“That’s just how dedicated I was to getting that right for Stevie and our team,” said Jackson, also a senior.
Does Artigue buy the YouTube story?
“I’d believe Bam if he said he went to the moon and back,” Artigue said.
So in a city where they throw Moon Pies from their Mardi Gras floats, that’s the combo 10-3 UL will kick it with — after snaps from Paul Boudreaux — when it faces 8-5 MAC-champion Miami (Ohio) in the LendingTree Bowl.
Not everyone understands what the two do, how they do it and just how tough it is to do it.
“I just stand in the way,” All-American offensive lineman Kevin Dotson said when asked about Jackson’s job.
Yet even Jackson, who at one point was hoping to be considered for national Holder of the Year honors — yes, there is an award for that — didn’t know about it before 2019.
A receiver by craft, he had never held before this season.
But Artigue, who missed all of last season following knee surgery, needed a holder.
The two got together, and it didn’t always go well at first.
Early on, Jackson struggled with the balls that had not yet been broken in.
“At the beginning of the season, when you have those new footballs, they’re still kind of waxy,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of hard to get a handle on those things.
“And I wasn’t wearing gloves at the time.”
Now he wears one.
“I was barehanded, and sweaty, wet. … It’s difficult to handle as a quarterback, as a skill position player, even with gloves on,” Jackson said.
So to do something as meticulous as hold properly, the degree of difficulty is magnified.
It took time to figure it all out.
“I’m always talking to Stevie, always asking him how he wants it,” Jackson said. “Always practicing with Paul and Stevie.
“During practice. After practice. Staying 30 minutes after, catching 20 snaps, 50 snaps. It’s repetition.”
“Game experience,” said Artigue, a Lafayette High product who has kicked for UL since his true freshman season in 2015.
“Kicking field goals in games, and learning from mistakes, and learning from good.”
How far did Jackson come over the course of the season?
“He’s come 5,000 percent since the beginning,” Artigue said.
“Game experience is what really got it to this point, and he works super hard and stays persistent. I’m super-proud of him. I love Bam. I love Bam.”
Jackson, an East St. John High product, really did grow confident with time. And he was sure that would happen.
“I told him back in the spring, ‘Man, we’re gonna get it. And it’s gonna come down to a play in one game where you’re gonna kick the field goal, and I’m gonna hold it, and it’s gonna be one of the best games ever since we’ve been here,’” Jackson said.
Sure enough, with one minute and 21 seconds to go in UL’s regular-season finale against in-state rival UL Monroe at Cajun Field, Artigue hit the game-winner in a 31-30 victory over the Warhawks from 27 yards out, securing the first 10-win season in Cajun history.
Artigue holds the UL single-season record for PATs made with 62, including four when he broke the record against ULM, five in last month’s Sun Belt Conference championship game at Appalachian State and a school-record 11 in a September win over Texas Southern.
His 301 career points are the second-most in school history, trailing only the 318 of NFL running back Elijah McGuire.
His 104 this year are the fourth-most in a single UL season.
Artigue is 62-of-63 on PATs, and while 14-of-20 on field goals including four early season misses he made 11 in a row at one point including his season-long of 49 yards.
But what number, made possible with the help of YouTube-watching holder, means the most to the Cajun kicker who before this season, like Jackson, hadn’t experienced a winning year in his UL career?
“It’s great going out with a bowl. … But what really means a lot is the 10 wins,” Artigue said. “That’s awesome, to finish a season above .500 for once.”