Both UL’s Billy Napier and Nicholls State's Tim Rebowe understand the importance of family, friends and the most important things in life.
They’re also both competitive football coaches.
So when a huge storm like Hurricane Ida hits during football season, coaches are forced to multi-task.
Come 6 p.m. Saturday at Cajun Field, however, both the Ragin’ Cajuns and the Colonels will be focused on football.
“We’re going to get involved in the help in terms of Hurricane Ida,” Napier said. “Certainly Nicholls is, what went through, we’re going to be right in the middle of that when given the opportunity. I’m all about it.
“We’ve got to play a game Saturday night, but there are bigger picture things here that we understand. We certainly want to support them and be there for them at the same time.”
With that said, Napier’s spent all week trying to upgrade his team after a humbling 38-18 loss at Texas.
“Our kids are … we’re working hard to improve,” Napier said. “We’re excited to play, man. We’ve got to get better.
“Last week was not,” he added shaking his head. “We’ve got to get better. This Saturday night is our next opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Rebowe’s Colonels are also 0-1 after a 42-17 loss at Memphis, where Nicholls has stayed all week to practice in preparation for the Cajuns.
“Our kids have been really good,” Rebowe said. “They’ve handled the situation. We get on the bus and we go eat, then we go to practice and then we get back to the hotel.
“They’ve got air conditioning, they’re eating good and they’re playing a little football. So yes, they’re really hanging in there.”
Despite the huge hit the Thibodaux area took from Ida, Rebowe said the current plan is for the Colonels to play a home game in two weeks.
UL freshman wide receiver Kyren Lacy went to Thibodaux High and said he’s looking forward to the friendly side of hosting Nicholls on Saturday.
“I want everyone to come out because Thibodaux needs this too, just like Lafayette does,” Lacy said. “Great environment, Lafayette could help Thibodaux out while coming and making them feel like at home, because of what they’ve been through with Hurricane Ida. We just need a family atmosphere at Cajun Field Saturday.”
Rebowe spent 11 seasons as a UL assistant coach and has many friends in the area.
“Eleven good years,” Rebowe said. “I tell everybody, both of my kids graduated from Lafayette High. Usually you don’t get that in college football when you stay in one place that long. So very, very fortunate to have made a lot of good friends. I have a lot of good memories in that place.
“They understand that when it’s game week, it’s game week. We put that friendship aside for one week and we have to get after each other.”
Football-wise, both UL and Nicholls had difficulties tackling on defense last week.
“I think coaches are trying to be smart and trying to protect the players,” Rebowe said. “We were coming off a seven-game season in the spring, not just a spring practice. So you had to be smart (about tackling in practice). We were trying to be smart in fall camp and maybe not bang as much — not tackle to the ground as much.
“Then I think you get in that first game and you have the speed of the game hit you and you realize, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get some of these guys down.’ So hopefully, we’ll be a lot better in Week 2.”
Turnovers and penalties were also a major problem for the Colonels late in their spring season and Nicholls added 12 flags in the loss to Memphis.
For the Cajuns, the big emphasis this week is containing Nicholls quarterback Lindsey Scott, who passed for 194 yards and ran for 24 more last week.
“It’s absolutely a huge part in winning this game is containing the quarterback,” Napier said. “He’s a passer but more importantly in the read game and in the quarterback-design run game. He’s about 220 pounds, he’s extremely quick and elusive and he has finishing speed.”
Napier remembers recruiting Scott before coming to UL and Cajuns’ quarterback Levi Lewis has been friends with Scott since middle school.
In fact, Scott’s Zachary team owns a two-game winning streak over Lewis and Scotlandville.
“It’s always exciting going against him,” Lewis said. “He beat me the last couple times and I’ve been itching to get back at him.”
After only running the ball twice last week in Austin, Texas, perhaps Lewis will be more of a running threat in Game 2.
“For the most part, I felt like I was too relaxed in the pocket,” Lewis said after reviewing film. “I was too much of a pocket passer and not a dual-threat passer.”