LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette’s decision to burn the redshirt of freshman quarterback Levi Lewis might have come as a shock to most, but not for wide receiver Keenan Barnes and the rest of his Ragin’ Cajun teammates.
“We believe in our coaches and feel like they'll put us in the best positions to succeed,” Barnes said after Tuesday's practice. "They felt (Levi) was the best choice.”
Lewis’ insertion into the lineup sparked the Cajuns to a 19-14 win at South Alabama on Saturday. The Cajuns are hoping the move will end the quarterback carousel that has taken place since one-time starter Jordan Davis’ Week 3 injury.
Through eight games, Barnes has seen three different quarterbacks and Hudspeth’s decision to turn to a true freshman so late in the season might have been concerning for some, but not for Barnes.
“We knew he was capable of doing what he did last week," Barnes said. "It was just about the preparation going into the game. He executed like we thought he would.”
In his first college start, Lewis was 8 of 15 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The former Scotlandville High School standout spread the ball around to six different targets. Just as importantly, the elusive left-hander added another 129 yards on the ground.
“He's very poised back there," Barnes said. "It's all due to his preparation and how he goes about it. He wants to stay ready, he wants to stay prepared, and he just wants to go out there and win.”
One thing easing Lewis’ transition into the starting lineup is a talented group of wide receivers like Barnes, who, when given the opportunity, has proven the ability to punish defenses. Barnes, the Cajuns' leading receiver, along with Ja’Marcus Bradley and Michael Jacquet, have combined to account for 1,018 yards.
The transition to the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Lewis has forced the trio of wideouts to put in extra work with their new signal caller.
“We stayed after practice a couple days and made sure stuff we had messed up on during practice, we cleaned up. We're rolling now,” Barnes said.
As UL-Lafayette gets ready to take on Ole Miss on Saturday, Barnes and the Cajuns aren’t approaching the week any differently.
“We're preparing to go out there and do what we can to beat them,” he said. “If they (the Rebels) feel like it’s an easy win, that’s on them.”
The Cajuns and Rebels are scheduled to kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi.