LAFAYETTE – Sunday night, after a week off for spring break, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns football team returned to practice, holding their ninth practice of the spring, this time under the lights on Cajun Field.
BACK FROM BREAK: It’s been a week since the Cajuns hit the field, and in their first practice back the energy levels were high, and the team looked excited to get back to work. There was plenty of banging and competitive drills, and as the night continued the cooler temperatures made things really start to feel like football.
GAMECHANGERS ARE HERE: For the first time this spring head coach Billy Napier broke out the Gamechangers axe, sledgehammer and chain. The three tools are for each respective special teams’ unit, which coach Napier calls his gamechangers.
The sledgehammer is for the return team, the axe is for the coverage team and the chain is for the punt team. A player from each respective unit will be awarded one of the three tools based off of the previous day’s effort and they carry it onto the field ready to go to work.
SPRING GAME IS CHALK FULL OF CAJUNS FUN: On Saturday, Apr. 21, starting at 12:30 p.m., the Cajuns will hold the Vermilion-White Spring Game, which will free of admission for all fans. But there’s more than just a game going on, fans will be treated with a day’s worth of events surrounding the game.
Fans are encouraged to attend the Cajuns Alumni Game on Cajun Field that starts at 11:30 a.m. and runs until the start of the spring game at 12:30 p.m. When coming to either the Alumni Game or the spring game fans can bring canned goods to donate to the Cajuns Canned Food Drive as a part of the Geaux Cajuns Program Initiative.
All canned goods collected will be donated to the FoodNet Bank of Lafayette and student-athletes along with volunteers from the FoodNet Bank will be at gates A, C & D to collect the canned goods. Goods fans are encouraged to bring range from dry goods such as rice, pasta, dry beans and meals in a box. Canned goods that can be brought to donate include tuna, fruit, vegetables and tomato sauce.
During the game Richard Farms and Crawfish Time on Ridge Road will be selling five-pound orders of Crawfish at $20 an order. Fans can pay with cash or card and fans can buy their orders of Crawfish under the west tower main concourse area. All money collected from the Crawfish orders will be donated to the RCAF.
There will be a Kid Zone as well, located near gate A, and kids will be treated to an inflatable bouncy house, balloon animals and face painting. The Kid Zone will open up at noon and run through the game.
Post-game there will be a free concert by Zydeco legend Keith Frank and fans are encouraged to swing by the oak tree near gate A. The concert will start at approximately 2:30 p.m. following the conclusion of the game.
Fans who can’t make it out can tune into the game on Cox Sports TV, with their coverage starting at 12:30 p.m. and running for the entire two hours of action.
RENEW THOSE SEASON TICKETS: Fans who had season tickets during the 2017 season have until April 21st to renew their season tickets for the 2018 season, by calling the Ragin’ Cajuns ticket office at (337) 265-2357 or visiting www.ragincajuns.com/sb_output.aspx?form=36. Fans who didn’t have season tickets during the 2017 season, can get on the season tickets waiting list by visiting the same website or calling the Ragin’ Cajuns ticket office.
(Head Coach Billy Napier)
"The practice was about what I thought we would get coming out of the break. We weren’t nearly as sharp or polished as we were before the break, but that’s to be expected. I did think that we played fast tonight and that the energy and effort was good. We need to continue to improve on our fundamentals and techniques that we’re trying to teach. I also feel that we need to respond better when we do have adversity, we’ve got to improve on our mental toughness regardless of the circumstances. But as a group we’ve got six practices left until the spring game, and we just need every player to be at their best as a teammate and on the field. We’re really challenging our guys to have perspective and be grateful for this opportunity, and we’re going to try and make a difference instead of making excuses. I like the type of team that we’re putting together, we’ve moved some pieces around and it’s created great competition in several areas. That’s what we’re focusing on right now, which is controlling the controllable and keeping a good perceptive and attitude. Overall it was a good day for the Ragin’ Cajuns and I’m excited about the intangibles that the kids are showing."
On the Gamechangers
"The chain, axe and sledgehammer were something I brought over from Alabama. It’s something that I did with the receivers at Alabama and we’ve carried it over to our gamechangers unit, which is what we call our special teams units. We’ll reward those tools each day based off of that unit’s performance and who stood out. The axe represents our coverage team, the chain represents our punt team and the hammer is the return team because we’re trying to drop the hammer and start with a big play. We’re just trying to create some urgency on special teams and reward the guys that are doing well in those areas. The kids have liked it so far and we let them carry it out before each practice and we’ll do the same thing in fall with the winners carrying out their respective tools before each game."
On Coming Out for the Spring Game
"If we can become comfortable in Cajun Field it’ll help us in the long run. The big challenge is for Acadiana to come out and support this team. We’ve got almost a million people within 35 miles of here and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to pack this place. We want the fans to get behind these kids and the university and for us to accomplish something significant and special here. We’re about 13 days away from the spring game, and we want to be 36,000 strong for the game and fill this place. I know how Cajuns are, and they’ll show up and make it a great day. The spring game will be just a practice run for the fall, and we want to make every spring going forward like that, making it a great weekend in Lafayette, because it’s a great place. I feel as though it’s time to come together and see if we can do something special here."
FOLLOWING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS: Follow the Cajuns twitter (@RaginCajunsFB), Facebook (RaginCajunsFootball) and Instagram (ragincajunsFB) to stay up to date with all things Cajuns football as they head into the spring game.