Cajuns coach Billy Napier: 'We’ll continue to be aggressive on fourth down'

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Go for it, or punt? That is the question.

UL went for it on fourth down four times in last Saturday’s 27-20 win over Arkansas State and converted only once.

Coach Billy Napier, whose No. 25 Ragin’ Cajuns (6-1, 4-1 Sun Belt) play host to South Alabama on Saturday (1 p.m., ESPN), suggested afterward that, given the same circumstances, he’d do the same.

“The (ones) we didn’t get, I would call those again,” Napier said.

One play that didn’t work came on fourth-and-1 near midfield in the first quarter, when running back Trey Ragas was stopped for no gain out of the Wildcat formation.

UL – down 6-0 at the time – went for it again on fourth-and-goal from the 5 in the final minute of the first half, but receiver Dontae Fleming was thrown for a 5-yard loss on a reverse call that came from the Cajuns’ usual 2-point conversion play list.

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On fourth-and-5 at the Arkansas State 24 in the third quarter, a pass to running back Chris Smith fell incomplete.

But UL did convert when running back Elijah Mitchell ran for 2 yards on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter.

All that left the Cajuns 4-for-12 on fourth-down conversion attempts this season. That evidently won’t dissuade Napier, however, from going for it in the future.

“We’ll continue to be aggressive on fourth down when we think it’s the right thing to do,” he said Monday.

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Related:Halftime adjustments helped UL overcome sleepy start, shaky play-calling

No kicker decision made

Napier still hasn’t decided if usual starter Nate Snyder or backup Kenneth Almendares will handle field goals and PATs this week.

After Snyder missed from 30 yards against Arkansas State, making the graduate transfer from Indiana 5-of-10 on the season, Napier turned to Almendares.

The redshirt sophomore hit from 35 and 45 yards, both in the fourth quarter – his first two makes as a Cajun.

UL coach Billy Napier, shown here during Saturday's win over Arkansas State at Cajun Field, has vowed to continue to go for it when appropriate on fourth down.

 “We’ll let them compete this week,” Napier said Monday. “We’ll see where they’re at.

“You know, one of the reasons we put Kenny out there is he’s been competing in practice and doing a really good job.”

Snyder is now 2-of-3 inside the 30-yard line this season, 1-of-4 from 30-to-39 yards, 1-of-2 from 40-to-49 and 1 for 1 – a 53-yarder to beat Georgia Southern – from beyond 50 yards.

He’s also 20-of-22 on PATs; Almendares is 4 for 4 this year.

More:New Cajuns kicker Snyder didn't need a visit to pick UL

Almendares, Lewis recognized

Almendares was named Louisiana Sports Writers Association state Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday and UL quarterback Levi Lewis was named LSWA co-Offensive Player of the Week along with Tulane running back Cam Carroll.

Start time set

A 1 p.m. kickoff time on ESPN+ has set for UL’s Nov. 21 non-conference game against Central Arkansas.

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