UL's Chauncey Manac 'impacts every game he plays in'
The Ragin’ Cajuns won their Sun Belt Conference opener at Georgia Southern without him.
But make no mistake: UL would love to have injured defensive end Chauncey Manac available when it plays host Wednesday night to Appalachian State in an ESPN2-televised game at Cajun Field.
“Chauncey impacts every game he plays in,” Cajuns coach Billy Napier said.
Manac has 2.5 tackles for loss totaling minus-23 yards in the four games he’s played so far this season for UL (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt), and he recovered a fumble by Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens in the Cajuns’ season-opening loss to the Bulldogs at the Superdome in New Orleans.
But the fourth-year junior from Clinch County High in Homerville, Georgia, exited UL’s final non-conference game, a Sept. 21 win at Ohio of the MAC, with an injury and hasn’t played since.
Initially, according to reports out of Ohio, it appeared Manac — who began his college career as a redshirt at Georgia — had injured an ankle and/or knee.
But the Cajuns list him as “day-to-day” with an “upper body” injury, one that apparently is related to his back.
Last season, when he led UL in tackles for loss with 8.5 during his first season as a Cajun, Manac missed three games with a shoulder injury.
His absence was evident.
UL won two of the three October games he missed, but the Cajuns really could have used him in the one they lost — a 27-17 defeat at Appalachian State, which also beat UL in last year’s Sun Belt Conference title game.
This season, the juco-transfer from Garden City (Kansas) Community College moved from Jack outside linebacker/standup defensive end to defensive end.
Now, with Joe Dillon backing up Kris Moncrief at the Jack, he’s been playing with his hand in the dirt more often than not on a defensive line — one also featuring Zi’Yon Hill and Bennie Higgins — that has the respect of Mountaineers coach Eliah Drinkwitz.
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“Defensively they’re very solid in the trenches,” Drinkwitz said this week. “I think their d-line is the strength of the team (on defense).”
With Manac out at Georgia Southern, redshirt-sophomore Andre Jones made his first start and had a career-high four tackles.
Jones now has 16 total tackles, tied with Hill for the most among Cajun defensive linemen.
With Manac’s status for Wednesday uncertain, Jones is the listed as UL’s starter and juco-transfer Ja-Quane Nelson as Jones’ backup.
But on Monday Napier said Manac “participated” in UL’s prior two practices, and that he’s “getting better every day.”
“I think it’s more of a comfort level with him than maybe his health,” Napier said. “He’s got to develop some confidence that he’s back and he’s ready and prepared to play.”
Napier sure hopes that happens, because even with Jones playing so well, he wants his usual starter back against the Mountaineers.
“We’ll … hopefully ramp him up and create that confidence as we get closer to the game,” Napier said.
“But any game with Manac,” the Cajuns coach added, “is better than a game without him, I would say that.”