It’s not that UL coach Billy Napier doesn’t think Sun Belt Conference play is important.
He’s simply already too entrenched in the week-to-week process to give too many rah-rah speeches about the beginning of league play.
“I’m looking through the glasses of we’ve got areas on our team where we need to improve,” Napier said.
When Nick Ralston made the decision to transfer from Arizona State to the Ragin’ Cajuns for his final year of eligibility, he didn’t really kn…
“We have to get consumed with the technical things and the preparation that’s going to allow us to play well Saturday. That’s what’s most important. What type of self discipline do you have throughout the week? To watch all the cutups you’re supposed to watch, to pad the plays you’re supposed to pad, to study the game plan, get in the bed at night, eat and drink the right things and create a positive atmosphere within the building.”
With all of that said, it is the conference opener and his Ragin’ Cajuns are the defending Sun Belt West champions.
“It’s truly a one-mission-at-a-time in approach, but this is a conference game and our players are fully aware,” Napier said. “Now that we have the divisional format and the championship game, they all matter, and this one’s no different than the rest of them will be the rest of the way.”
Familiar with Statesboro
The two programs may still be relatively new to each other.
There’s only been two games in the series — UL winning on the road in 2016 and the Eagles winning in 2017 in Lafayette.
But playing in Statesboro, Georgia certainly isn’t new to coach Napier, who played quarterback at Furman and competed in the same then-Division I-AA conference with Georgia Southern.
While most statistics are in UL’s favor on its way to the program’s first 3-1 start in seven years, there’s one glaring one that doesn’t make …
“I have a lot of respect for Chad (Lunsford) and what he’s done there,” Napier said. “They work well together as a team in terms of how they play on offense, defense and special teams together. A lot of team speed, a lot of athleticism, and some explosive players on offense that can make them very difficult to defend. We certainly know that starts with their quarterback.
“They had Minnesota on the ropes, so hats off to them. That’s another Sun Belt Conference team going and competing well against a Power Five opponent and almost pulling that off. So we’re excited about the opportunity, very familiar with Paulson Stadium, and the opportunity to go play on the road in a tremendous venue, tremendous history and tradition, and a lot of respect for their program.”
As a player, Napier started three games against Georgia Southern. His combined passing numbers in those games were 46-of-71 passing for 589 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Another Wreckin’ Ram
The recent exodus of former Acadiana High players performing for the Ragin’ Cajuns took another step forward last Saturday at Ohio when former Wreckin’ Ram All-State defensive back Jayrin Wilson showed up on the boxscore.
The redshirt sophomore was credited with a solo tackle and a pass breakup in the 45-25 road win.
It wasn’t such a long time ago where forcing five turnovers was a rare occurrence and playing defense like the UL Ragin’ Cajuns did in Saturda…
“He’s a terrific talent,” Napier said. “He’s a walk-on on our football team. He was a guy who chose to go off to junior college, and a guy that recently graduated from junior college and was available. We recruited him a little bit when he was coming out. The guy’s a state champion 100-, 200-meter track athlete in high school and a terrific football player as a safety and a running back over there at Acadiana High.
“He’s earned the opportunities that he’s getting. He’s getting reps at corner and he’s affected the game on special teams, and certainly we’re excited about his future here.”
The speedster played at Trinity Valley Junior College in Athens, Texas, earning second-team all-league honors one year.
Wilson played on two state championship teams for the Rams in football and shined in track and field as well.
UL backup center David Hudson is certainly going to know at least one member of the Georgia Southern team when his Ragin’ Cajuns visit Statesboro on Saturday.
In his second year as the Eagles’ offensive line coach is his father Ron Hudson.
Hudson actually coached with the Cajuns for six years from 2005 through 2010. During that span, Hudson’s duties ranged from assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and certainly offensive line coach. He helped UL’s rushing attack set a then-school record with 2,797 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2005, only to eclipse 3,000 rushing yards with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in 2007.
Ironically, UL’s powerhouse running game so far this season is on pace to break the record after collecting 1,295 through four games or 323.8 rushing yards per game.
This won’t be the first time Hudson has played against the Cajuns, who coached at Nevada from 2013-15. UL beat Nevada 16-3 in the 2014 New Orleans Bowl.
David Hudson is a 6-1, 280-pound redshirt sophomore after a career at Lafayette High that included two second-team All-District campaigns.