Lost for some in Saturday’s 31-3 homecoming win over Texas State was the 46-yard field goal by senior Stevie Artigue on the final play of the first half.
At the time, it increased the Cajuns’ lead to 10-3.
One could argue that it was the big play that propelled the Cajuns to pulling away from the visiting Bobcats.
With each passing week, the job UL defensive coordinator Ron Roberts’ unit is doing continues to amaze.
“No doubt, you could sense it,” Napier said. “Stevie’s one of those guys that has the respect of his teammates. I think everyone wants him to be successful and see him do that. Everyone on the outside may not see that, but that guys shows up every day and you can see where he’s executed his plan.
“He had a good open date and that paid off, and we played well around him. I thought the protection was good, the snap-and-hold was good. Those are some of the areas that we needed to improve as well.”
Before Saturday, Artigue had missed 4 of his 7 field-goal attempts, but the team says the 46-yarder will get him going.
“I think that kick was bigger for Stevie for him to get his confidence,” senior cornerback Michael Jacquet said. “Stevie is a great guy, a great kicker and great player. He was just struggling. His confidence was falling, but now he’s back. You can see it at practice and it showed today with that long field goal.”
It wasn’t a big night for the UL passing game.
The defenses dominated the first half, top target Ja’Marcus Bradley hardly played and quarterback Levi Lewis was pressured constantly.
But UL got just enough complementary receiving help to get the job done.
Jalen Williams had three receptions for 50 yards, and Jamal Bell added a key 23-yard catch that really ignited the passing game early.
“Jalen Williams made a great play, stepped up with the big third-down catch, won his matchup, really good release, stacked the guy and went up and high-pointed the ball,” Napier said. “That was a big play in the game.”
For many during the preseason, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns were supposed to be a team carried by an explosive offense.
Like Bradley, Bell has been battling injuries since becoming the No. 2 receiving threat.
“Jamal is one of the more explosive run-after-catch, wiggle guys,” Napier said. “He’s got some creativity about him. He had a good couple weeks of practice. He’s been around here for a while now. He’s a veteran. It’s not too big for him.”
Lewis the scrambler
With each week, Lewis seemingly is becoming more and more of a running quarterback.
In Saturday’s 31-3 win, Lewis ran seven times for 40 yards and also used his legs to set up a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick Ralston.
“We kind of knew going in, this was kind of a drop-eight team, it was a man-to-man team,” Napier said. “There were going to be pass plays where it was muddy. They were going to have an extra guy in coverage or they’re spying a guy. They’ve got an extra rat as we would call it, and he was going to have to make some plays with this feet. We’ve been challenging him to do that.
“Certainly you can see that it sometimes settles him down a little bit. He can go make some plays with this feet. He did that tonight. He had some huge scrambles for first downs. That’s what he needs to do. We always talk about, ‘When they drop eight, you’re going to have to use your feet as a check-down.’ ”
It wasn’t a thing of beauty for much of the first half.
Napier likes where Lewis is in his progress as an unflappable offensive leader.
“The guy just wins,” Napier said. “He gets it. He’s stingy with the ball. He doesn’t throw it to the other team. He understands where we’re at in the game relative to the risks he takes.”
Some feisty moments
For several moments during Saturday’s game when a brawl seemed possible between the two teams.
Some of that played into UL's 12 penalties for 128 yards.
“Anytime somebody picks you for homecoming, it’s a sign of disrespect, so I think that’s a little bit of what it was,” Jacquet said. “They felt like they could play with us in the first half, because we weren’t capitalizing on their mistakes. That gave them a little bit of motivation, so I think that’s where the chippiness came from.”
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Sophomore safety Bralen Trahan expects it to be addressed.
“I just think we lost our composure a little it,” Trahan said. “Coach Napier always preaching not to beat yourself. We’re going to have to nail down on that. I’m sure we’re going to nail down on that and do a better job of controlling ourselves.”