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South Alabama quarterback Carter Bradley took the safe approach when talking about the Jaguars' upcoming trip to Louisiana.
“It's another opportunity,” Bradley said. “It's another game that we get to go out and show who we are and the things we learned last week. The guys in the locker room, we're excited for another opportunity. It's the biggest one because it's the next one. So, we're gonna go into this one like it's another game and prepare like it's another game."
Again, he said the right thing. It just might not be fully accurate.
Louisiana established itself as one of the Sun Belt Conference elite over the past three seasons under Billy Napier. The Ragin’ Cajuns were 33-5 in the final three seasons of Napier’s four-year tenure in Lafayette. Napier was 4-0 against South Alabama, including last year’s 20-18 victory in Mobile.
It’s not just a big game because it’s the next one.
"We dropped the ball last year against this team," said South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack. “You can say what you want. We were and still are a growing program, but we were in a tight game against a very good football team and we didn't execute in some critical situations. We felt like we dropped an opportunity and then let it affect us in the next opportunity.”
Wommack said he used that experience as a lesson for his team.
“We've talked this season about being the storm rather than weathering the storm,” Wommack said. “That's a big piece of what we've talked about. I've shown them clips. It's amazing that the guys who weren't here a year ago and how well they, as well as all of us, understand what we have to do in this game in particular, the response that we want to have from a year ago, and then certainly what this means in the greater cog of the Sun Belt Conference."
South Alabama actually used that lesson a week ago when the Jaguars overcame a tough loss at UCLA to easily knock off Louisiana Tech. Now it’s time for a little revenge against a Louisiana team that looks different than last season. Napier is now the head coach at Florida. Quarterback Levi Lewis is gone and two players — Chandler Fields and Ben Wooldridge — are playing that position. Louisiana has losses to Rice and Louisiana-Monroe over the past two games.
"They are back home this weekend and it’s their homecoming game,” Wommack said. “I would imagine that they'll have a great crowd. There are a lot of players on that team that know what it's supposed to look like, and obviously, the last two weeks is not what it's supposed to look like. I feel they are well aware of that, so I'd imagine that you're going to get a pretty good response from them on Saturday."
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