UL coach Billy Napier said his focus was primarily on the intangibles, but the Ragin' Cajuns released statistics Monday for Saturday’s first secret intrasquad scrimmage of preseason camp.
Napier wants to see a little more grinding, but the execution on the field earned a passing grade.
“I like the football I see,” he said. "I just feel like we need a little more leadership and a little more ownership.
“It’s not just about checking the box. It’s about doing the work and being intentional and deliberate.”
He’s 6-foot-5 with enough speed and he's entering his fourth year in the program.
Junior quarterback Levi Lewis threw for 229 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Perhaps the biggest news was sophomore Jai’Ave Magalei with 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, even though he didn’t “have one of his better days," Napier said.
Freshmen Chandler Fields added 71 yards, Clifton McDowell 53 and newcomer Brayden Hawkins 7 yards and an interception.
“In general, I would say the quarterback group needs to take care of the ball a little better,” Napier said. “Levi had a good day outside of one football play. I thought he forced a play. He was in a little bit of a scramble situation and didn’t make a good decision, took a chance and threw one down the field. Outside of that it was a good day for him.”
Naturally, Lewis knew exactly the play Napier was referring to.
“I just got greedy, kind of seeing my guy Calif (Gossett) thinking he was about to keep on running,” Lewis said. “That was very undisciplined. I’ve got to stick to the basics, stick to the operation; don’t get out of it. Stick to what coach teaches me and not be too greedy.”
Senior receiver Ja'Marcus Bradley had four catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
For the record, most of us have been mispronouncing his name over his four seasons in Cajun Country.
Defensively, sophomore cornerback Eric Garror drew rave reviews.
“Certainly Eric Garror, being in his second year, you can see that he’s starting to emerge as a consistent, dependable player,” said Napier, who also said Garror has emerged as the leader at punt returner.
On the defensive line, the talk continues to be about senior tackle Tayland Humphrey, a transfer from Florida International. UL is still waiting on a ruling from the NCAA on whether Humphrey can be eligible to play this fall.
“Tayland Humphrey in particular is a guy who is going to change the game," Napier said. "We’re still waiting on a ruling on whether he’s going to be eligible or not. I’m certainly pleased with the progress that he’s making. He’s got work to do. He can get better.
“He can continue to get in shape, lose weight, work on his footwork, his hand placement, gap control and just being an more consistent, reliable, dependable player.”
Sacks were awarded to Andre Riley, Joe Dillon, Timaje Porter, Lorenzo McCaskill and Daijuane Dorsey. Interceptions were collected by Mekhi Garner, Chauncey Manac, Kam Pedescleaux and Michael Jacquet.
Any Vallot doubts gone
When senior center Cole Prudhomme was injured, the coaching staff turned to redshirt sophomore Shane Vallot of Comeaux High as the first option to replace him.
In Saturday’s scrimmage, any remaining doubts of Vallot’s ability to do so are apparently gone.
They can laugh about it now.
“Absolutely, no question,” Napier said. “He really played well. I think he’s well respected. He’s got tremendous leadership, he’s a great communicator — really the quarterback of that group. He does a good job of communicating inside out and really established himself there. So we’re very pleased with him.”
Moreover, Napier said the staff will be giving more snaps to Ken Marks and Spencer Gardner as potential reserves at center.
Wisham awarded scholarship
Redshirt sophomore running back T.J. Wisham of Episcopal High in Baton Rouge was the latest former walk-on awarded a scholarship during a team meeting Monday.
Napier said Wisham is the 13th former walk-on put on scholarship in his two years so far.
Like most coaches, there's no denying UL coach Billy Napier fully grasps the significance of winning the turnover battle.
“T.J. is deserving,” Napier said. “He’s not only a heck of a football player, but also an upstanding young man and an outstanding student. We’re excited for him and his family, and it was great to have them here today for that.”
Napier said there’s a battle for the final few walk-ons to be rewarded in the future.
“We’re going to play this year with 10 walk-ons on scholarship again,” Napier said. “I’ve got no issue with that at all, because some of those guys we put on there are some of our better players and some of the ones that I probably believe in more than others, truth be known.”
Senior cornerback Michael Jacquet is suffering from turf toe and will be out “one to two weeks,” while junior linebacker Tanner Wiggins suffered a torn ACL knee injury over the weekend and is out for the season.
Also, running back Elijah Mitchell “has a little bit of an Achilles issue that we don’t expect to be a long-term issue, but we he’ll be out four or five days.”
Napier said sophomore A.J. Washington and senior Kamar Greenhouse figure to get more snaps at cornerback with Jacquet out.
Like so many high school football stars over the year, UL redshirt sophomore Bralen Trahan did a little bit of everything in earning All-State…
As for the linebacker spot, freshman Tyler Guidry of Southern Lab answered the call after Wiggins went down.
“Tanner Wiggins’ injury created an opportunity for Tyler Guidry, and he had a good day,” Napier said. “He kind of stepped up to the plate and played more physical. He used some of the strengths that he has and looks like a guy who could get in position that could get in the two-deep and contribute to the team, which is kind of what we thought. It’s good to know that he has that poise and competitive spirit about him.”
In other injury news, wide receiver Brian Smith Jr. returned to practice after going through concussion protocol.