It’s becoming a cliché.
But most clichés are based in truths.
With each obstacle cleared and each close call survived, the resolve of the No. 19-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns seems to get stronger.
After Saturday’s dramatic 53-yard field goal by Nate Snyder to beat Georgia Southern 20-18 at the buzzer, UL coach Billy Napier reverted back the theme.
What’s a two-minute drive, a long field goal or eight starters being out compared to the coronavirus epidemic, social justice issues and a region of the state being decimated by a hurricane?
“These moments are not that big of a deal, truth be known, compared to what we’ve been through,” Napier said after the win that moved UL to 3-0 for the first time since 1988.
For this group anyway, all the chaos of 2020 has been both a blessing and a curse for the Cajuns.
It’s bonded this team, which runs onto the field with a flag that reads “United.”
After three games, it’s awfully hard to argue with that.
Take Snyder’s field goal on the game’s final play, for example.
To almost everyone outside the team, the Cajuns were doomed. To many, the game was suddenly on the shoulders of the team’s biggest pregame question mark.
Inside the team, however, there was nothing but confidence.
“That’s the coaching staff and players here 100%,” said Snyder, who had missed four of his six attempts before the game-winner. “They’ve been super, super great to me. They’ve been coming up to me, not one negative word has been said to me. I’m real hard on myself about anything, so those guys coming up to me and being super supportive has really helped. I credit them for that make.”
In other words, there was unity.
Senior running back Trey Ragas detailed after the win the offense, defense, special teams and coaching staff don’t point fingers when things go wrong or a particular unit is struggling.
They’re united, and apparently that breeds confidence — even when there’s no obvious reason for it from the public’s point of view.
“I went out there with full confidence,” Snyder said. “I had a little swagger in my walk. You look at my stat line and you wouldn’t have had any type of confidence, but I did. I felt totally confident. That’s the entire staff all week talking to me, saying, ‘Hey man, you’re good. You can do this.’ I credit them for that.”
The progress chart for UL’s young wide receivers took another step in the right direction during Saturday’s 20-18 win over Georgia Southern, a…
So while many UL fans probably didn't have the nerve to watch Snyder’s kick, teammates like junior safety Bralen Trahan had their eyes wide open.
According to him, he knew exactly what was about to happen.
“I definitely had my eyes on the field,” Trahan said. “The first one, Nate I told him after that first one (miss), ‘Man, they’re going to have another one that we’re going to need you.’ I knew it. As soon as he went out there, I was like, ‘Man, he’s going to hit this one.’ He has a lot of confidence in himself. Even though he missed the first one, he has a lot of confidence in himself and everybody else has confidence in him.”
“Basically, I knew the kick was good,” he said. “Every day in practice he does at least one of those.”
While most of the outside world was exclaiming disbelief, Snyder said his teammates had a different message.
“It was fun, a lot of fun,” he said. “A lot of them came up to me when I was down and cheered me up. So it was kind of like, ‘I told you.’ It was a good thing.”
It’s that mentality that allows the team’s biggest question to suddenly be the star attraction in the team’s postgame celebration dance.
“It was a fun atmosphere,” Snyder said with a huge smile when describing that moment.
There’s just no figuring sports sometimes.
Napier stands firm that Snyder’s early-season inconsistencies are because of a technical issue the team is working on.
The best explanation might have come from Snyder.
“I love left hash because you can just hammer it,” Snyder said. “You can bring your hip all the way through the ball. It’s kind of like playing a draw in golf.”
According to Snyder, he’s been more like a pitcher aiming a pitch, rather than just letting loose.
The entire team now gets a little extra time to prepare for the game of the year — at Appalachian State on Oct. 7.
There’s plenty to work out, from shaking the coronavirus issues to better play on the offensive line, to a more consistent passing game, to giving up fewer big plays on defense.
But if you believe everything that’s been seen and heard so far this season, one thing this team has down pat is unity.