Expectations were high coming into the 2017 season for the Ragin’ Cajuns, as they returned a veteran offensive line and a group of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
While nobody expected them to win the conference, a 5-7 record and no bowl game was not what the Cajuns had in mind. Here are a few updates since the Appalachian State Mountaineers gave the Cajuns a shellacking in their final game of the season.
Early Signing Period
The Ragin’ Cajuns will not be signing any recruits during the NCAA’s new signing period. Napier was only announced about a week before the Early Signing Period, so its not a shock to learn that he held off on the new early signing period this year. To Napier, signing players so quickly after becoming head coach is like “marrying a girl you just met.” Napier has made it clear that he wants to establish a solid relationship with his team and recruits, and he believes this is the first step in doing so.
This is not to say that the Ragin’ Cajuns have no recruits lined up that were ready to commit under the old coaching regime. It was publicly known that five different players were committed to signing during the new Early Signing Period: three linemen and two defensive backs. Napier is not turning his back on those recruits, and he has spoken to them personally. It all comes down to a limited time frame.
Time may be a luxury for Napier, as he comes to a program that needs to be rebuilt with patience in order to stand up to a strong Sun Belt Conference. Coaching in an area with tons of talent, it is a wise move for Napier to take things into careful consideration and attempt to do things right rather than making desperate grabs at players that committed to the team under a different set of circumstances. Whether you agree with his methods, it’s a good way to gain trust from both the players and their families.
Billy Napier is bringing another Sun Devil coach in Rob Sale. Sale will serve as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the upcoming season. Sale has primarily been an offensive line coach throughout his coaching career, but it is notable that he also coordinated the run game for the Sun Devils this last season.
Under Sale the Sun Devils ranked 50th overall in the run game during 2017. They averaged 4.04 yards/carry and scored 26 rushing touchdowns. This ranks just behind the Ragin’ Cajuns on the year, as they ended 47th overall.