Cajuns football closes camp: 'We know the struggle ... and we welcome it'
Cody Junot, The Advertiser, Aug. 23, 2019
Training Camp 2019 is officially in the books for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
The Cajuns have Thursday off and will enjoy a team movie, but following that, the Cajuns' focus shifts squarely to Mississippi State.
UL and Mississippi State will face off Aug. 31 in the Superdome. Kick is set for 11 a.m.
As camp closes for the Cajuns, it did so with very few surprises, and coach Billy Napier believes that’s a good thing. He and his staff invited the right group of players to camp.
“I think that we anticipated a lot of the things that were coming. A lot of times when you get to the point where you have the 110 players you've selected for training camp, you kind of know what work is in front of you.” Napier said Thursday afternoon.
“I like the group of players that we added to the team, they proved to be kind of what we thought they were, and I think that is going to make us a better team.”
heading into game week.
"I think this team is further along because I think we know each other better, we understand expectations and we've been through some struggles," Napier said. "We went through some battles last year, and the group of players that we have, they've grown. We're better equipped to handle adversity, we've been in some fights, we know what the struggle is going to be like and we welcome it. I think we're in good shape there."
When the Cajuns return to the practice field Friday a critical two-day period will be underway for a number of players. Friday and Saturday could very well determine which backups and reserves see the most playing time in the season opener.
“These next two practices are going to be very, very competitive and determine how we'll rep the players going into the actual game week. These next two days will be critical for that pool of players on our team that are battling and competing for playing time.” Napier said.
In his first public press availability since news broke on Monday, Napier addressed tight end Chase Rogers' injury and subsequent decision to transfer out of the program.
“Once he went through that process of researching his injury relative to playing football again, what was that was going to look like," Napier said. "Chase came to us and expressed that he may not want to play football again, he's been through a lot. I don't think he's completely closed that door but felt like changing schools, going to college with some of the people he went to school with, where he had some friends.”
“Chase did a tremendous job for us, have nothing but respect for him. Not bitter, totally understand where he's at, most important thing to me is that Chase handles this adversity well and I hope he has a healthy return. I hope the guy plays football again.”
The injury to Rogers’ foot, his third foot injury since high school, occurred sometime between UL’s first scrimmage and last Saturday's scrimmage.
Cajuns stay (mostly) injury-free
Except for tight end, where the Cajuns are dealing with injuries to Johnny Lumpkin, Hunter Bergeron, and the transfering Rogers, the team finished camp relatively healthy.
Running back Elijah Mitchell (achilles) has returned to practice, and the Cajuns are expecting to get defensive back Michael Jacquet (turf toe) as the team begins prep for Mississippi State. Offensive lineman Kevin Dotson and Ken Marks were each held out of Saturday’s scrimmage but both are expected to return to practice Friday.
Welcome to the Swamp
A blast from the past is expected to greet visiting players this season as they head down the tunnel toward the playing surface at Cajun Field.
On Thursday morning while visiting with Steve Peloquin and Cody Junot on ESPN 1420 AM's "The Starting Lineup," Napier referred to the historic sign following a conversation he had with Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots.
Napier was visiting the New England Patriots staff when Edelman, intrigued by the Ragin’ Cajuns logo on Napier’s shirt, walked up to Napier and started a conversation. In 2008, as quarterback at Kent State, Edelman visited Cajun Field, and one thing above all else stood out, a sign that read, “Welcome to the Swamp, You’re Officially Below Sea Level.”
“That’s just another way to create some pride, create some history,” Napier said, “If the guy remembered anything, he remembered it was packed, it was hot, it was humid, and he remembered that sign and never forgot that sign."
Mississippi State selects Stevens
Mississippi State announced Thursday afternoon that Tommy Stevens will be the Bulldogs starting quarterback. Stevens a transfer from Penn State beat out New Orleans native Keytaon Thompson.