UL needs 'more players that can playing winning football'

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser


Coach Billy Napier feels UL needs "more players that can playing winning football."

Speaking Monday with media members for the first time since preseason camp opened last Friday, new UL coach Billy Napier suggested he is happy with his team’s conditioning early in August.

Napier, however, also indicated he’s looking for much more than that from his Ragin’ Cajuns, who were in shoulder pads for the first time Sunday night and planned to be in full pads Tuesday night.

“We need more players that can playing winning football,” he said. “We’ve got get more consistency and performance.”

Napier defined “winning football” players as those who can be one of 11 on field “and establishing that, hey, we can trust this guy; he’s dependable, he’s accountable, he can do his job well.”

 That, he added, means being able to retain information, “fundamentally making progress,” being well-conditioned, proving you can battle “adversity and fatigue,” and showing “what type of competitor you are.”

Andre Nunez and Levi Lewis, battling for UL’s No. 1 quarterback job, both are examples of Cajuns he believes can play “winning football,” Napier said.

RELATED:After 'difficult' end to 2017, Cajun QB Nunez starts fresh

MORE:Lewis gets lots of advice in quest to be UL's QB starter

“Overall,” said Napier, who didn’t plan to make himself available to media members Monday night or Tuesday night, “if we’re gonna be a team that’s known for their toughness and their effort, we’ve got, you know, miles to go.

“But I think we’ve seen young players emerge. I’m pleased with the (signing) class we brought in. … I think in general the newcomers are all what we thought they were, and I think they’ll prove to be very winnable players.”

Napier cited Max Mitchell, a freshman offensive lineman from Neville High, and Chauncey Manac, a juco-transfer who began his college career at Georgia, as being among the newcomers who’ve made themselves noticed since camp opened.

He also said new addition Sammy Ochoa already is battling for a backup job on the defensive line.

COLUMN:Napier’s first media day — polite, restricted


One contender for playing time behind Matt Barnes and Johnny Lumpkin at tight end this season isn’t quite at full speed yet, Napier suggested Monday.

Peyton Aucoin is a transfer from Mississippi Delta Community College who started his college career as a redshirt at Texas in 2016.

Napier said the product of Brother Martin High near New Orleans is “recovering” from a knee injury, but suggested he’ll be in competition for playing time with Alex Allen and Lafayette High product Chris Turner.

“I think he’s a guy who has more work to do there,” Napier said of Aucoin. “We’ve got to rehabilitate his knee, getting him stronger. But certainly we’re happy with his attitude, his work ethic. He doesn’t bust a lot. Knows his stuff.”

Since preseason camp opened, Napier said Thursday, Barnes and Lumpkin have shown enough improvement since spring practice that he’s comfortable with the position despite the loss of injured and out-for-the-season would-be starter Chase Rogers.

“Both have shown they’re ready to take on those roles,” Napier said.

MORE:Cajuns counting on versatile tight ends Barnes, Lumpkin


Napier on Monday also provided an early camp injury report.

Reserve linebacker Ken Jones, a Westminster Christian product, is out with a knee injury, he said, and reserve receiver “will be a little bit limited going forward” due to a shoulder injury.

Napier also said a high ankle injury has reserve linebacker Tommy Whitted out until sometime after classes starter later this month, and indicated that the ex-Michigan walk-on has been removed from UL’s 110-camp roster.

RELATED:Multiple Cajuns limited early in UL's preseason camp


Early in camp, Napier said Monday, transfer Kyle Pfau “has proved that he is gonna be a legitimate contender in this kicking competition.”

Napier said Pfau has “stood out” along with Calvin Linden, UL’s backup last season, in the battle for the Cajuns’ vacant No. 1 job.

Pfau is a grad-transfer from Oklahoma, where he played quite sparingly the past two seasons.

MORE:Linden, ex-Sooners kicker Pfau fight for top job


Napier had a message for his defensive coaches Monday, telling them to “let’s make sure the volume doesn’t overwhelm the young players.”

Napier indicated he suggested it’s best to keep concepts simple during the first week of camp so that players could be better evaluated to determine who might be able to help most five or so weeks down the road.

RELATED:UL d-coordinator Ron Roberts has lots of questions