5 things to watch for the Cajuns' 2019 football season

Cody Junot
Special to the Advertiser


UL averaged 18,551 fans per home game a season ago, according to NCAA figures. Ragin’ Cajuns Director of Athletics, Bryan Maggard and coach Billy Napier are hoping to see attendance figures rise in 2019. The Cajuns have announced a number of new programs aimed at driving student and fan engagement.

Fan Friendly concession pricing is in, student tailgating has been moved back to Cajun Field, and UL has announced the addition of a new student rewards program aimed at driving attendance. Additionally, Russo Park will be open again as a tailgating option for fans along with live music under the oak tree.

No. 2 quarterback

The good news for the Cajuns is that Levi Lewis has solidified his spot as UL’s top signal-caller. But unlike a year ago when Lewis appeared every fourth series, spelling starter Andre Nunez, there will be no rotation at quarterback — at least for now.

Billy Napier, who coaches the quarterbacks in addition to his head coaching duties, is still waiting on the emergence of a clear backup. Four players, Jaiave Magalei, Brayden Hawkins, Chandler Fields and Clifton McDowell have spent fall camp in competition.

Heading into the season, Magalei is slated to the backup. But as a group, none of the backups have separated themselves enough to earn playing time on a rotational basis.

Joe Dillon’s Return

After leading the Cajuns in sacks as a freshman in 2016 and again as a sophomore in 2017, an injury forced Joe Dillon to miss the entire 2018 season. The good news for UL is that he’s back and fully healthy

The question is can he return to the form that made him a USA Today Freshman All-American in 2016? Dillon’s return allows the Cajun defense to line up another pass rusher opposite of Chauncey Manac in UL’s 3-4 defense.


In 2018, UL finished minus-2 in the turnover margin, giving the ball away 17 times — 14 via the interception — and only managed to take the ball away 15 times, forcing eight fumbles and picking off seven passes.

If the Cajuns defense is going to improve in 2019, taking the ball away at a higher rate will help. It’s no coincidence the Sun Belt’s top three defenses in 2018, Appalachian State, Troy, and Georgia Southern also each finished in the top three in turnover margin.


A year ago, the Sun Belt Conference was not sure what to expect from first-year Napier and his football team that had finished 5-7 in 2017. It was so unsure of what to expect, in fact, the team was picked to finish fourth in the five-team West Division.

Fast forward a year, and Sun Belt West Division Championship and the Cajuns are no longer the hunter, but instead, the hunted. The Cajuns were picked by the league’s coaches to repeat as division champs and face Appalachian State in a rematch of the Inaugural Sun Belt Conference Championship Game.

We will learn a lot about this team following the Cajuns' first three games in conference play, which includes a pair of road games against Georgia State and Arkansas State sandwiched around a mid-week home date with App.