The strange portion of the UL football schedule has arrived.
After beating South Alabama 20-18 on Saturday, it’ll be four weeks before the Ragin’ Cajuns play another Saturday game.
The most anticipated matchup during that stretch is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against Appalachian State at Cajun Field. The Mountaineers are 4-1 and 1-0, while the Cajuns are 4-1 and 2-0.
The UL Ragin’ Cajuns are 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play with two road wins, but that only begins to tell the story.
After that game, UL plays at Arkansas State nine days later on a Thursday.
UL coach Billy Napier chose to look on the bright side of the scheduling situation.
“It was nice to have a couple days to really quality control the first five games — to take a good look at each individual player on the roster, each unit, each position group and all six phases in the kicking game,” Napier said. “We kind of had a two-day plan there to come up with plans for improvement.
“We really gave the players feedback and take a good look in the mirror at ourselves and what we needed to do to be a more consistent team.”
It’s in this stretch where coaches lose a sense of reality as preparation for Appalachian State began Wednesday.
“It’s Monday in my mind right now,” Napier joked. “I couldn’t even tell you what day it is to be honest with you.”
So Wednesday was a Monday for the staff and essentially a Sunday for the players.
Over South Alabama’s first seven possessions in Saturday’s 20-18 loss to UL, its offense had two plays of 20 or more yards.
“It’s part of playing in these midweek games,” Napier said. “Everybody knows what the goals and objectives are each day.”
Last year’s 24-21 road win over Appalachian State was UL’s first victory over the Mountaineers in nine tries.
“When I came into school, they were already the top dog,” UL left tackle Ken Marks said. “They ran the Sun Belt, and we never could get over the threshold of beating those guys when coach Napier came into the program. So last year beating them was getting a monkey off your back, but still, they’re the standard.
“What are we against them? 1-8 or 1-9 all the years we’ve played them? So we’ve got a lot of catching up to do before we can say anything about overtaking them and try to get where they are as a program.”
In addition to quality control after the first five games of the season and working on future opponents, practice this week has featured a battle for the team’s starting kicker job. With starter Kenneth Almendares out for the season, Nate Snyder has taken over the role but struggled with a missed extra point and two missed field goals last Saturday.
He’ll now compete with freshman Logan Klotz from Pope John Paul II in Slidell.
“I think we’ll continue to create competition there,” Napier said. “It’s definitely an area on our team that we need to address, whether that’s fundamental improvement by Nate or another player outperforming him. Whatever the case may be. We did quite a bit of research.
“We sent the video off to a number of friends in the profession for some feedback for him from some of the better special teams guys in the country. We’re going to do everything we can do to position the team to have success.”