The Appalachian State game on Oct. 9 was encouraging with 21,012 fans. The next game was homecoming against Texas State with 21,063 fans.
Then came Saturday against Troy with only 14,262 fans.
Coach Billy Napier wants to make the fans in the Acadiana area know more about his team.
It sounds like the thing to say, and it’s certainly the goal every week.
“When you watch this team you see a team that has really great chemistry,” Napier said. “I think they’re good people. I think they have improved as much in terms of who they are as people as they have from a football perspective, somebody that you can be proud of is what I would say.
“Certainly we have accomplished some goals here so far and lots are left to play for. I think that they would be very, very impressed.”
The 14,262 was the smallest crowd UL played in front of all season with the previous low being 14,857 at Coastal Carolina.
One of the biggest concerns going into the Troy game that turned out to be void of worries was the loss of injured defensive tackle Zi’Yon Hill.
The unit didn’t appear to slip one bit.
“I think in general they all played relatively well,” Napier said. “I think it was kind of a one dimensional game, it got out of hand and became a throwing and catching type of game. They’re going to be challenged in other ways this week. We’re going to have to do a good job this week of handling this rushing attack, whereas last week it was more about handing the simpler running attack and then really affecting the quarterback.”
For many around the country, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns are first identified by their three-headed monster in the offensive backfield.
Ja’Quane Nelson contributed five tackles, while Andre Jones added three tackles and a sack.
Napier especially lauded the leadership displayed by senior Bennie Higgins in the game.
“I would say Bennie Higgins in particular did a good job from a leadership perspective, and then he played well within the game,” Napier said. “I thought he did a good job of creating some pass rush, transition to a pass rush quickly on some of the stuff. He played well, and he did a good job throughout the week of kind of setting the tone and making sure those other guys were doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Guidry shows potential
This year’s accomplished defense will be losing quite a few valuable seniors, such as Jacques Boudreaux, Ferrod Gardner, Higgins, Deuce Wallace and Michael Jacquet.
Behind them are a corps of talented youngsters ready to take the lead in the future. One of them may be freshman linebacker Tyler Guidry.
Troy’s defense has not been good all season long.
“Guidry, I think you’re spot on, probably one of his better days (Saturday),” Napier said of the Southern Lab product. “I got a chance to play him a little bit more, his role on special teams last week was very important, Alonzo Brown got injured last week and is out for the season, so Guidry stepped up and played in the shield on the punt team.
“He did a really good job, and he had some plays on defense where he stepped up and made some plays. One of those freshmen that we signed last year that’s impacted our team and certainly we’re going to need him the rest of the year.”
Coaches like routines, but Napier is even willing to alter that a bit when it comes to the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We’ll move practice up a couple of hours on Thursday,” Napier said. “We’ll work on Wednesday night as a staff which we typically don’t do, but we’ll buy that time back. We want everybody that’s within a couple of hours to be able to go and spend time with their family, and the ones that can’t they’ll come over to our houses and enjoy Thanksgiving.
“It’s that time of the year, and we want to make sure that we celebrate that, and certainly not just one day a year but hopefully year round we can have that type of attitude.”