Twelve days after graduating from high school, Chase Fourcade was on the Nicholls campus to prep for his upcoming season and college career. “On the weekdays I came to Nicholls and stayed throughout the week. I’d work out, and I took a class in June and again in July,” said Fourcade.
His transition on the field was akin to taking a 400-level biochemistry class to kick off his freshman year.
In the Colonels’ Sept. 10 opener, the 6-foot right-hander was under center at Georgia. More than 97,000 partisans were on hand, screaming on every Nicholls snap and roaring their approval of the freshman’s every mistake. It worked, initially.
On the first pass attempt of his college career, Fourcade was intercepted by Juwan Briscoe at the Bulldogs’ 46. But the Colonels defense held. The next Nicholls’ series was a three-and-out. Two drives later Fourcade threw another interception, this time at the Georgia 44. The Colonels’ defense held again.
“Coming from a high school senior to playing a Georgia team, an SEC-caliber team — the speed of the game was fast,” Fourcade said. “In the first half I was getting used to the field of play, the game, and the speed of it.”
Despite the mistakes, the Colonels trailed just 10-7 at the half. Their sole touchdown drive came off a fumble by Nick Chubb that started the Colonels’ drive at the Georgia 30. Fourcade contributed an 18-yard scramble to the scoring effort.
“Once the second half hit, that’s when a lot of stuff I learned started kicking in. I learned from the loss, and I’m progressing each week,” said Fourcade.
In the third quarter, Fourcade hit for a touchdown pass to Jarrell Rogers that briefly gave Nicholls the lead. Late in the fourth, he hit C.J. Bates for a 6-yard touchdown to draw within 26-24 of Georgia. With 3:42 left Georgia took possession and ran the clock out on a nine-play drive to hold on to the victory.
After four games, Nicholls is 1-3, having lost a second game to the FBS’s South Alabama and falling to McNeese last week. Since the first half against Georgia, Fourcade has thrown twice as many touchdowns (4) as interceptions (2) and thrown for just under 800 yards.
The early maturation of the quarterback is due in part to preparation for the role that began well before his arrival in Thibodaux. His uncle, John Fourcade, was a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints in the late 1980s. His father Keith, a linebacker, had a brief stint with the team in 1987. Prior to that, both Keith and John attended Ole Miss.
“My dad and my brother were by my side throughout my life teaching me the game of football. Since I played quarterback, my uncle gave me a lot of advice before and after each game,” said Fourcade. “My dad helped me a lot with drills that we’d do after practice in high school that I took with me to college.”
Fourcade was a highly regarded high school quarterback, drawing offers from Maryland, UL Monroe and Arkansas State. He could have also played baseball. As a catcher he earned All-State honorable mention and earned a spot on the New Orleans Advocate’s all-metro team.
He showed fidelity to a Colonels’ FCS program that showed the same to him throughout the recruiting process. “Nicholls stuck with me throughout and I stuck with them. I’m glad I’m here, and thankful for the great coaches that we have,” he said.
His progress, as with that of the Colonels, faces another test this weekend when they host 3-2 Stephen F. Austin. The game should be a high-scoring affair. Through five games SFA’s defense has proven pliable, giving up 69 and 63 points in losses to Texas Tech and Sam Houston State, respectively. Across scrimmage the ‘Jacks are prolific, with quarterbacks Hunter Taylor and Zach Conque combining for 12 aerial scores and eclipsing the 30-point mark in each of their wins.
It is a critical game for both teams as the Colonels’ battle to rescue their season and protect their young quarterback, while SFA vies to ascend from the Southland’s hyper-competitive mid-pack. The play of the confident freshman quarterback will be equally critical if Nicholls is going to keep pace.
“We had a great practice yesterday,” said Fourcade. “We focused on getting back to basics. We know we’re a good team, it’s just a matter of going out there and performing to standard.”