Billy Napier has seen Alabama football from the inside. Now he’s going to get a look from the other side.
Louisiana-Lafayette’s first-year head coach brings the Ragin’ Cajuns to Bryant-Denny Stadium, the place where he spent five seasons as part of Nick Saban’s staff, on Saturday. Napier was an offensive analyst on UA’s 2011 national championship team and spent 2013-16 as receivers coach after a year on Jim McElwain’s staff at Colorado State. He took his first head coaching job after one year as offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
His recent time at Alabama makes him familiar with UA’s explosive, 50-points-a-game offense. Napier was there when some of the current stars were backups and others were being recruited. He says quarterback Tua Tagovailoa makes the Crimson Tide more dangerous.
“There’s no question that the personnel on offense is as good as it’s ever been at Alabama relative to the total combination of players at every position,” he said. “I think the quarterback makes them different – you know, he’s a tremendous passer not only arm talent but accurate – he’s making good decisions and he’s able to stand in the pocket, keep his eyes down the field and can extend the play. They’re doing a really good job on the perimeter of winning one-on-one matchups.
“I’m very familiar with all of those players. They’re all young, and I think it’s only going to get better for their offense in the future.”
If he’s seen a weakness, Napier isn’t saying.
“They’re playing well at every position across the board,” he said. “The offensive line is extremely talented, a big, physical group that does a good job of protecting (the quarterback). Obviously we know about the handful of running backs that are all going to play this game for a long time.
“They present a great matchup in terms of you’ve kind of got to pick your poison. You want to stop the run, you’ve got to match up and cover these guys on the perimeter. Certainly off to a great start, there’s a reason why they’re the No. 1 scoring offense in the country.”
Saban acknowledges Louisiana-Lafayette’s 1-2 record, but says Napier’s group presents problems with his offensive schemes, especially with screen passes and run-pass options.
“Billy Napier, who we’re very familiar with, is trying to build a program there,” Saban said this week. “I think they’ve done some really good things there this season.”
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