CONWAY, S.C. — The home team might disagree, but yes, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns did a few things wrong during their 48-7 steamrolling of Coastal Carolina on Thursday night.
But this night was so perfect that even a few of those instances came up aces for the coach Billy Napier’s club.
If there was any doubt how capable the Cajuns are of running the table and returning to the Sun Belt championship game, this performance put an end to that.
In what has been building as a historic season for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns, one of the question marks remaining has been the depth of the wide re…
Many, including Napier, didn’t have a good read on UL’s midweek road matchup against the Chanticleers. But the Cajuns didn’t take long easing the fears by scoring on every possession that one of the two halves didn’t end.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” Napier said. “I felt like this was going to be a really challenging game. I really did. I came in here, I wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to go.
“But we did have good quality walk-throughs, our Thursday practice was lights out and our guys were really zeroed in, dialed in.”
There had to be a few blocks missed and a few tackles not made. In reality, those aren’t really blemishes in football.
Even when that happened, however, it seemed work. On the third play of UL’s second drive, the execution wasn’t flawless but junior running back Elijah Mitchell turned in one of the best plays of the season by absorbing a big hit as he turned around after catching a short pass in the flat, kept his balance and turned it into a 31-yard gain.
“We didn’t do a great job on that play on the perimeter,” Napier said. “We made a cut effort on the corner. The corner played the block and the guy got up. That was a big play in the game, because the momentum could have went back their way at that point.
“Tremendous balance. Eli’s just a pretty special cat. In my opinion, that was one of the keys to the momentum of the game was that play.”
Everyone in the stadium knew this wasn’t a tourist trip for the Cajuns after Mitchell’s effort.
After ending that drive with a 14-0 lead, the rout was on.
Another potential shortcoming to some was the Cajuns settling for two short field goals, instead of punching in it.
Napier admitted he was happy kicker Stevie Artigue got those chances to build his confidence.
Yes, even when things didn’t go perfectly in this game, it worked out well for UL.
And the coach was correct. Long-term, it’s more important for Artigue to get back on track.
Another potential big-picture stumbling block may also have been erased in Thursday’s win. There weren’t any limits on targets for quarterback Levi Lewis on this night. Fourteen players caught at least one pass to help Lewis deliver a career night on national television.
CONWAY, S.C. — The red-hot UL Ragin’ Cajuns weren’t perfect during their 48-7 road Sun Belt rout of Coastal Carolina on Thursday at Brooks Stadium.
“Guys made plays when they got opportunities to," Napier said.
UL played without two of its best players — right tackle Robert Hunt and linebacker Chauncey Manac.
It didn’t matter.
Manac’s replacement, Andre Jones, led the team with seven tackles, forced a fumble and had a tackle for loss.
“I can’t say enough about Andre Jones stepping up and playing well,” Napier said. “He’s not only playing well when he’s rotating with (Chauncey) Manac, but when Manac has been down this year, Andre’s played his best football and I thought he played well again tonight.”
About the only thing that didn’t go well for the Cajuns, as they ran their record to 7-2, 4-1, was a late 44-yard touchdown pass by CCU to spoil the program’s first shutout in seven seasons.
“Well, I’m not going to say some of the stuff I heard on that sideline,” Napier laughed.
“But it gives us something to look forward to in the future. It would have been nice to get that shutout. I know we’ve been talking about that for a long time around here and that day is coming.”
Even on that play it’s hard to criticize UL’s secondary, which had two players in perfect position to defend the play.
Sometimes you just have to credit the opponent.
“We had guys in position there to make a play on the ball and it was a terrific play by the kid,” Napier said. “He did a good job making a contested catch.”
Kudos to him perhaps, but there was no putting a damper on this performance.