A week ago, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns were pressed for time.
The Cajuns had just come off a 27-24 win over Nicholls State and awaited Ohio for a Thursday night ESPN game.
As coach Billy Napier began his weekly Zoom teleconference this Monday, he was about to hold a “Tuesday” practice on a Monday in preparation for Saturday’s 5 p.m. Sun Belt Conference opener at Georgia Southern.
“It’s going to be important that we have a really good week,” said Napier, referencing Georgia Southern's option-based offense. “We’re kind of off and running here. We’re a day ahead of schedule.”
In Thursday’s 49-14 demolition of Ohio at Cajun Field, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns partied on ESPN like it was, well, 2019.
The Eagles are coming off a pair of rough road trips — getting blasted 38-6 at Florida Atlantic two weeks ago and then 45-10 at Arkansas on Saturday.
“Georgia Southern is always a big, fast, athletic team,” Napier said. “They’ve got tremendous tradition. It’s extremely important to their university, their community and to their players and staff. They’re always a tough matchup.”
Georgia Southern (1-2) starting quarterback Justin Tomlin was academically ineligible for the first two games, including a 30-25 season-opening win over Gardner-Webb.
Tomlin was 11-of-23 passing in his first game against the Razorbacks, but he gained 94 yards on the ground thanks in large part to a 76-yard touchdown run.
“The quarterback’s a dynamic runner,” Napier said. “He can go the distance and you’ve got to account for him. You’re seeing a little bit more of that.
“This is an opponent that we’ll oftentimes spend a little extra time on during training camp and spring practices as a result of that, because of the uniqueness of what they do.”
Cajuns redshirt freshman reserve quarterback Lance Legendre is going to be critical during practice this week as the scout-squad quarterback.
“Lance Legendre is a terrific athlete,” Napier said. “He’s done a good job in the last few weeks of trying to do what these quarterbacks have done — whether it’s the kid that Ohio had last week or Nicholls obviously. The kid’s obviously a phenomenal athlete.
“We’ve got good people. It’s one of the benefits of how we practice during spring ball and training camp to create depth, so that our look squads and job-takers are more prepared from a fundamental standpoint.”
The Cajuns hope Thursday’s 562-yard output against Ohio helps get the UL offense straightened out.
“Overall, we got it right more often than we did in the first two,” Napier said.
Watching film revealed improvement in several areas.
It was going to be a rough week before the Sun Belt Conference opener at Georgia Southern next Saturday if not for Thursday’s redeeming performance.
“Fundamentally as a whole, we were improved,” Napier said. “We played better on the line of scrimmage on offense and we played better in the secondary on defense. I do think that in the kicking game, we still have a little bit of work to do in some areas, but we covered kicks, although we didn’t get great kick placement or great hang time, we did cover kicks the way we expect to around here.”
Napier dropped only crumbs of information on the injury front Monday.
Linebacker Ferrod Gardner and wide receiver Errol Rogers have missed the last two games, and defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill was out against Ohio.
“I think pretty good,” Napier said when asked how UL exited the Ohio win physically. “But I do think we’ve got some good news there relative to some of those guys that you mentioned. Those guys are going to practice (Monday).”