Snyder nails game-winner for UL: 'I knew it was good'
He was 1-for-4 before the day, and he missed a 34-yarder to end Saturday’s opening half.
Yet when Nate Snyder took the field for a 53-yarder with 2 seconds left and nationally ranked UL down two points to Georgia Southern in its home opener at Cajun Field, he didn’t have a doubt.
Neither, they say, did his teammates.
Perhaps it was with good reason.
Because Snyder came through, hitting the game-winner as time expired to lift the now 3-0 Ragin’ Cajuns to a 20-18 win.
“I know Nate has had a couple up-and-down games here with us,” UL coach Billy Napier said of the graduate transfer from Indiana, “and certainly (he) missed one today.
“But you’ve got to give him a lot of credit to have the mental toughness to overcome obstacles and go out there and execute for his team and do his job when it mattered the most, man. What an unbelievable kick.”
Was it ever.
“The second I hit it, I knew it was good,” Snyder said. “I think I was halfway to the sideline before the ball was even to the end zone.
“I just had to go out there and do what I’ve done a thousand times. It’s just ‘go out there with confidence,’ and know you’ve made a kick a thousand times before and it’s no different than a PAT.
“So really,” he added, “it was just me talking to myself in my head, saying, ‘It’s like a PAT.’”
But it is not.
It was more than that, with much more on the line.
Yet teammates truly were not worried.
“Basically, I knew the kick was good,” running back Trey Ragas said.
“Every day at practice he does it at least one of those, so I had a lot of faith in him.”
Safety Bralen Trahan had something to say to Snyder after he missed his 34-yarder earlier.
“I told him after that first one, ‘Man, they’re gonna have another one today. We’re gonna need you,’” said Trahan, who had a key interception. “I knew it.
“As soon as he went out there, I was like, ‘Man, he’s gonna hit this one.’ Because he has a lot of confidence in himself. Even though he missed the first, he had a lot of confidence – so everybody else has confidence in him.”
Snyder also made a 25-yarder after missing from 34, making him 2-for-6 as a Cajun as quarterback Levi Lewis led No. 25/19 UL down the field with less than a minute left to set up the game-winner.
“I knew we were gonna drive and get a kick,” Snyder said. “Honestly, I just could feel a long one. … I don’t know how I knew that. I could feel it. So I was thinking, ‘I really need to hammer the ball.’”
He said as much to holder Dalen Cambre, who wound up getting a solid snap from Paul Boudreaux.
“Cambre’s a great holder,” Snyder said of the receiver from St. Thomas More High. “He has great hands. He did in high school.
“I told him, ‘Hey, I’m really going to hammer this ball, so lean the tip of the ball toward you a little bit so I can get my foot behind it a little more instead of having the ball straight and pushing it.’”
Snyder, Cambre and Boudreaux have been working on ironing out technical issues ever since Snyder opened 1-for-3 in a season-opening upset win at then-No. 25 Iowa State.
“Some of the misses I had, it’s kind of more me ‘aiming’ the ball instead and swinging through and hitting the ball,” Snyder said. “So when I was warming up, I was really emphasizing hitting the ball and locking out my follow through.”
He did so with confidence despite never having attempted a field goal for Indiana, where he only kicked off.
“That’s the coaching staff and players here (at UL), a hundred percent,” Snyder said. “They’ve been super, super great to me.
“They’ve been coming up to me, and not one negative word has been said to me. You know, I’m real hard on myself about everything – so those guys coming up to me and being super supportive has really helped. I credit them for them for that make, because I went out there with full confidence.
“You look at my stat line you wouldn’t think I had any type of confidence, but I did,” he added. “I felt totally confident, and that’s the entire staff all week … telling me, ‘Hey, man, you’re good.’”
When teammates celebrated in the locker by tossing Snyder in the air, that was not forgotten.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said the postgame celebration.
“A lot of them were coming up to me when I was down cheering me up, so it was kind of like, ‘I told you.’ It was a good thing.”
Positive affirmations are what it is all about for Snyder, a product of Center Grove High from Greenwood, Indiana, who also nailed a 53-yarder when he played there.
They came from Napier, too, although the Cajuns coach almost had to watch Snyder attempt a 58-yarder as UL nearly took a delay of game penalty.
Alert assistants had Napier call a timeout, and he watched from there.
“I’m gonna tell you, man: This guy, I watch him every day, OK? Every Tuesday, every Wednesday, every Thursday. And he’s lights out,” Napier said. “I mean, you can see the leg talent when he kicks off. He’s a very talented young man – and, like many of us, he makes some fundamental mistakes.
“He’s made some technical errors, and he’s missed some kicks. But I’m gonna tell you: I think that will do him well in terms of developing his confidence, and we’re certainly happy to have him.”