UL football coach Billy Napier began and ended his weekly zoom with the area media talking about the impact of Hurricane Ida more than Saturday’s season opener between his No. 23-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns and the No. 21 Texas Longhorns in Austin.
“I think it’s going to provide an opportunity for a lot of us to step up,” Napier said. “We’ve got some experience and know how difficult this can be, so let’s see if we can do that.”
Napier said topping Monday’s priority list is detailing how many players, coaches, support staff and student workers associated with UL’s football program had family members in Hurricane Ida’s destructive path, and “try to do as much as we can to try to help those people.”
Napier said some in UL's program stayed in town through the weekend, while others evacuated with their families.
UL’s athletic department will not require fans to be vaccinated or produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend home game at Cajun Fiel…
Napier expected the team to be reunited Monday evening to get some football work accomplished, but again, that’s not his top priority despite being less than a week before the season opener.
The team missed out on a full day of planned practice Sunday and much of Monday as well.
“A lot of it has been put in,” Napier said of the game plan installation for Texas, equating Thursday and Friday practices to typical Tuesday and Wednesday sessions.
“When you’ve got this much time, you kind of space out your work,” Napier added. “We’ll be fine. There’s no concern here from that perspective.
“The most important thing is the health and safety of all the people involved here.”
While this week’s focus is on Texas, Napier said he spoke with Nicholls head coach and former UL assistant Tim Rebowe on Sunday evening on how the Colonels made it through the storm.
UL defensive coordinator Patrick Toney never claimed to be a genius.
Nicholls is scheduled to be UL’s home opener on Sept. 11, but Thibodaux also took a direct hit from Ida.
“We texted back and forth,” Napier said. “It sounds like they did OK. He said everything was going well so far. They were going to check the damage (Monday).
“This is going to take weeks to overcome. I think we’re just getting started relative to the recovery from this thing for a lot of people. It’s going to be really important that we all step up here and try to help as much as we can for all those people who are going through a very difficult time.”
There were some football issues discussed, however.
For starters, redshirt freshman guard Tyler Brown was added to a injury list with an “upper body injury” that Napier classified as “day to day.”
He did admit Brown’s absence could impact the offensive line’s rotation in practice and on game day if he can’t go.
Napier also revealed the list of true freshmen who may make an immediate impact on the squad.
Leading the way are running backs Montrell Johnson and Terrence Williams.
Tackling the top issues for one of the most anticipated seasons in school history.
“We needed some of the rookie running backs to prove that they were mature enough to handle it and they did have ability and they could produce, and I think we’ve seen them do that,” Napier said.
“The other two (Kendrell Williams and Dre’lyn Washington) are good players. It’s just taken them a little longer to develop. As a whole, we signed four backs for a reason. We knew it was the one position where we may need some immediate help and I think we got that.”
Napier also mentioned true freshman linebacker Cameron Whitfield, true freshman Jalen Clark getting snaps at cornerback and sophomore Nigel McGriff of Northwest Mississippi Community College as newcomers ready for action.
“We’ve got 29 new scholarship players on the team,” Napier said. “We’re still kind of putting this roster back together from the original start.
“I do like the group. As a whole, it’s definitely the best group we’ve added when you combine all the different types of players. They really are making our team better in the role they have now.”