It was fun while it lasted.
It was indeed an historic night at Cajun Field with UL coach Billy Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns setting new school standards for points scored and margin of victory in the 77-6 win over Texas Southern on Saturday.
But even Napier himself expressed doubt in the postgame news conference how much momentum such a game can actually give his Cajuns heading into Saturday’s road trip at Ohio University.
“You would like to think there’s some momentum, but in all reality, it’s not going to help you very much,” Napier said.
If you don’t believe that, just take a peek at the Maryland Terrapins. At home, Maryland destroyed Howard 79-0 and even trashed Syracuse 63-20, only to get beat at Temple 20-17 in Week 3.
That may not mean this runaway win that featured 10-minute “quarters” in the second half is completely irrelevant to the next task in Ohio.
Napier gave one of the most detailed descriptions of a future opponent just moments after a game than I’ve heard.
Perhaps that suggests his coaching staff wasn’t spending 100 percent of its time preparing for an overmatched Texas Southern squad last week.
Ohio, for the record, is 1-2 with road losses of 20-10 at Pittsburgh and 33-31 at Marshall the same day UL was winning by 71 points.
However you view the aftermath of UL’s biggest blowout win, exactly what have we learned from Napier’s 2019 Cajuns through three tune-up games?
Certainly, the running game is dynamic as expected. Napier explained Saturday that rushing for over 400 yards in consecutive games is more than just good scheduling.
After giving up touchdown drives in the first two games, UL’s defense corrected that in Saturday’s win over Texas Southern.
“A lot of passes we throw maybe are running plays,” Napier said. “That’s what people don’t understand. A lot of those runs out there, there’s pass tags and screen tags all over those and the defense is covering those down, and (quarterback) Levi (Lewis) is deciding where the ball goes and we’re running advantage runs.
“A lot goes into rushing for 400 yards a couple weeks in a row. A lot of things goes into running it well, and Levi’s got a lot to do with that.”
With that said, the backs are top notch and the offensive line has displayed plenty of depth in the early going with two — and sometimes three — returning starters out.
“It starts up front certainly, but this group of running backs have great eye discipline, very disciplined in their footwork and very decisive,” Napier said. “They’re fresh, we rotate him and we’ve got players playing well around them.”
But even Lewis himself acknowledged UL’s offense has not reached its potential just yet.
Saturday’s last home non-conference game of the season against Texas Southern was the final tune-up for UL before heading to Ohio University n…
“We need improvement in our deep-ball passing game,” said Lewis, who is now 49-of-75 passing for 627 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions on the season. “More down the field passes instead of east and west.
“We’ve improved a lot, but it could be better. The guys around me are doing a good job. I just have to play at a way higher level than I have been playing.”
The slow start by Jarrod Jackson and the injury to Calif Gossett seemingly have slowed the passing game some. Those situations, though, also brought true freshman Peter LeBlanc into the mix, as well as Jalen Williams and Cassius Allen.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of skill guys,” Lewis said. “Those guys play a big role in our passing game and in the blocking game — RPOs. We’ve got a lot of skill guys that have stepped up to the stand, and it’s been good for us.”
The good news is Jackson finally caught his first pass of the season — a nice 31-yarder over the middle. If that senior leader gets involved, it can spark the passing game like it did a year ago after a slow start due to injury.
“Yes, it was very important to get Bam (Jackson) going,” Lewis said. “Bam’s got hands now. If you put it in his vicinity, he’s going to catch it. You put the ball in Bam’s hand and he’s going to show.”
Bacque pitched for the then-SLI Bulldogs in 1956-57 before joining the Detroit Tigers’ organization.
Also lost for some in this 77-point output is the defense giving up the fewest points since limiting UL-Monroe to three points on Dec. 3, 2016.
That defense also played very well for most of the Liberty win as well.
The increased depth we heard about throughout the offseason was not false advertisement. There’s indeed more potential to pressure the quarterback and there’s far more athleticism in the secondary.
The only glaring shortcoming, though, remains the lack of turnovers. The defense only gave up 236 yards and 3 for 17 on third and fourth downs to Texas Southern, though it incredibly didn’t force a single turnover.
With two challenging road games on the horizon, it’s about to get much more difficult to smile after games without forcing turnovers.
It’s certainly a unique scenario, so it’s no surprise UL coach Billy Napier preferred to sidestep the questions during the week about his Ragi…