The final score for the UL Spring Football game was 63-45, with the red team staging a furious comeback after a slow start.
But don’t be fooled by the final score.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are far from a team with a super explosive offense. The scoring format assigned points to each play based on the success rate of offense and defense.
“The format we used was intentional so that every game was where there were points at stake,” UL coach Michael Desormeaux said. “Whether the defense had a negative play, a sack, a tackle for loss or the offense had an explosive, every play today had value.”
Team white took a 27-9 lead, but team red staged more touchdowns in the actual scrimmage portion of practice to win.
“It kind of goes with what we preach: the little things matter,” Desormeaux said. “Everything we do makes a difference. What we have kind of accepted is the difference in the details.
In the end, the coaching staff was satisfied.
“We’re happy with where we are,” said Desormeaux. “When you come out of spring you want to feel really good about who you can be during the season and we do that today.”
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s spring game:
1. Quarterback race
It would be very difficult to pick a starter to replace Levi Lewis as UL’s starting quarterback after Saturday’s activities.
The most productive flagger was Ben Wooldridge with three 50-yard carries and two touchdowns.
“I thought both worked well in the system,” Desormeaux said of Wooldridge and Chandler Fields. “Ben obviously had flashier games and really made some really good decisions in the running game in terms of when to shoot it and when to throw it.
“But sitting from where I was behind them, it looked like they were both working very well in the system that we’re trying to make work.”
As a passer, Wooldridge was 4 of 7 for 15 yards, while Fields was 4 of 11 passing for 38 yards and a touchdown.
“It kind of happened,” Wooldridge said of his running TDs. “I just found myself in a situation to make a play and I made a play, but it wouldn’t have happened without the O line and the receivers running great routes.”
Fields viewed the spring game from the team’s perspective.
“I think today went well,” he said. “We did what we could do in attack. We did a great job defending.
“It was an interesting point scale. We were a lot earlier and came back and ended up winning the game.
Lance LeGendre had 4 of 7 passes for 78 yards, as well as seven carries for 2 yards.
Zy McDonald was 3 of 5 passing for 28 yards, and Zeon Chriss was 3 of 4 passing for 14 yards.
“I thought the young guys executed well sometimes and sometimes it got a little big and fast, which I understand,” Desormeaux said. “We ask a lot of them.”
2. Jacob Kibodi
With Chris Smith missing all spring in rehab from injury and Kendrell Williams now out for the season, redshirt senior Jacob Kibodi made the biggest impression on the running back.
The Baton Rouge native and Texas A&M transfer moved to wide receiver last season, then opted to return to five spring practices.
“Just during training one day, ‘Dude, I miss running back, so let me go play running back,'” Kibodi said of the decision.
It looks like a good move after going for 50 yards on 10 carries on Saturday.
“Kibodi is really into it,” Desormeaux said. “At first he wanted to do both. He has a skill set to do both. The problem with that is I keep talking about the little things, everything we do, we try to teach at a high level and the intricacies of it. So when he was splitting the time, he was sort of splitting the time on the details.
The top priority is to run hard between tackles and avoid the temptation to run outside.
“Showing that I can run hard every play and get those tough 5 yards,” Kibodi said. “Sometimes I just want the big play, but sometimes you just have to put your head in there and get those tough 5 or 3 yards.”
3. Patrick Mensah
As Ja’Len Johnson, last year’s ‘Star’ safety, left and redshirt junior Brandon Bishop came out with a family affair, redshirt junior Patrick Mensah delivered on Saturday with two tackles behind the line.
“Coming in as an extra, you work hard every day not knowing when you’ll be able to get that shot,” Mensah said. “So when you get it, do your best to enjoy it.”
Mensah received a full-time fellowship before spring and responded to the staff’s challenge to produce even more.
“Pat has done a phenomenal job this spring,” said Desormeaux. “He’s shown his teammates time and time again that when he gets the chance, he goes there to make plays.
“You really can’t deny he did that for us every chance he got.”
The spring game’s leading receiver was redshirt freshman Robert Williams with three receptions for 69 yards.
“Rob is one of those guys who flashes,” Desormeaux said. “When Rob does the little things right, he’s really hard to cover. He’s extremely talented. He’s fast. He’s got a great hand. He’s a natural runner. He’s come a very long way.
“He has made a lot of progress. Rob has a bright future here. It is difficult to cover in individual situations.
For Edwards, it’s all about the details.
“We ask a lot of our receivers in our system — from adjusting splits, understanding route adjustments out of coverage, understanding their adjustments in the running game,” Desormeaux said. “This is where he still has to continue to grow.
“If you play the game one-on-one, it would be really, really good for us. It’s just not the nature of the game, it’s 11 versus 11. So the better he gets the details and understands these things, the more Rob will play. He will certainly help us the more he can.
5. The defense leads the way
To no one’s surprise, the defense outplayed the offense in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“The standard here has been set,” Mensah said. “It’s a great defensive game, a quick defensive game. It’s something we practice every day in training. This is something we emphasize. We’re going to make sure we’re sprinting full speed, playing full speed one game at a time every day, going as fast as we can.
Desormeaux expressed his appreciation for the leadership shown during the spring season on defense.
“You’ve seen a lot of older guys making plays, and you’ve seen young guys who haven’t done much yet on Cajun Field on Saturday night,” he said.
One of the youngsters was redshirt freshman outside linebacker Cameron Whitfield with a bag.
“Cameron Whitfield is definitely a promising player,” Desormeaux said. “Talented, great boy. He tries to do the little things well. Since last year we (tight ends) lined up in front of Cam every day.
“He’s got the elite…quickness and tightness. He’s really smart, he tries to do everything right. He’s going to be a really good player here at UL.