Four from Cajuns coach Billy Napier on Sun Belt Media Day
NEW ORLEANS — Four of the most-interesting things new UL coach Billy Napier said during his first Sun Belt Conference football Media Day, which was held Monday at the Superdome here:
THE QUARTERBACK BATTLE
The latest on the ongoing fight to be UL’s No. 1 quarterback:
“The good thing about our situation is we have two young men that I think really can play winning football, Andre Nunez being a senior and Levi Lewis being a sophomore.
“Both have experience, and both have a skill-set that I think can be very effective.
“So, some teams may have insecurity about the quarterback situation. But we do not. We’ve got two guys that I think can play, and we’re gonna have great competition for our No. 3 spot.
“But I think the critical thing when making a decision about quarterback is when the reps become extremely valuable is when you need to make a decision. So, at some point or another, a quarterback is gonna win the team. They’re gonna play at a little bit higher level. And I think that’s gonna evolve as we work each day. There’s lots of work left to do. We’re nowhere close to making that decision, although we are pleased with the progress that they’ve made. I’m excited about those guys, and the work they’ve put in.”
THE BIG-PICTURE QUESTIONS
On questions heading into preseason camp, which for UL opens when players report Aug. 2 and hit the field for the first time Aug. 3:
“We have lots of unknowns. But I know this: We’ve got competition. We’ve had a good group of players that have bought in to the culture that we’re trying to establish.
“I’m excited about training camp because we have a chance to develop our team. For the first time, we’ve got all 110, 130, players together, and there’s lots of questions. What type of identity is this football team gonna have? Certainly, we’ll develop that personality.
“We need more leadership at the player level this season. And training camp will present adversity. It’s gonna present success. And how will this group deal with that? That’s some of the questions we’ve got to answer.”
THE CAJUN CULTURE
On the Cajun culture — or what Napier is calling the cULture he’s trying to get his new team to buy into:
“When we talk about culture at the University of Louisiana, we’re talking about it in two different ways.
“The first culture we’re trying to establish at our place is how we go about our business inside the building relative to how our players represent the university, the community and our football team — the first-class approach that we want them to have; their integrity, their discipline, their toughness; the togetherness we want to play with; the impact we can have on the community; a certain level of belief that we can do special things.
“That applies to every area. It’s not only how we play on Saturdays, but that’s how we compete as students. That’s how we represent ourselves as people, not only while they’re at our place but the dynamic when they leave here — that they got their education, and not only an education but a network of people and a skill-set (so) they can have success in life.
“The second part of the culture is our area, our region, is unique. It’s special. You can’t drive through that community and not recognize that. And it’s all about the people. It’s about their beliefs. It’s about their belief in hard work, their belief in doing things with class, their want to be associated with a winner.
“That’s why our staff is at the University of Louisiana — to do those two things, establish our culture inside the building and embrace the culture in the community.”
On the benchmark games of the schedule, which for the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2018 includes September visits to two SEC opponents — Mississippi State and Alabama:
“We can’t necessarily zero in on games on our schedule.
“Where we’re at as a football team, we know we’re gonna line up and play, and each and every one of those is gonna be a competitive environment.
“That’s one of the things about this and the non-conference schedule that we have. We’re gonna have to be ready to play each week.”
UL opens its season Sept. 1 at home against Grambling, takes an early off week, visits Mississippi State on Sept. 15 and opens Sun Belt play Sept. 22 at Cajun Field against Coastal Carolina before visiting defending national-champion Alabama on Sept. 29.