UL honored D.J. Looney the right way with UAB win


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BIRMINGHAM – With a few dozen of his members of the family sitting within the bleachers at Legion Discipline, the plan was to correctly honor late assistant coach D.J. Looney.

It began with UL players all wearing the name LOONEY on the again of their jerseys.

It ended, fittingly for the Ragin’ Cajuns, with a 24-20 non-conference win over UAB in Looney’s hometown of Birmingham, and afterward, his family, together with mom Sarah and father David Looney Sr., celebrated on the sphere with UL gamers.

“It was humbling to see coach Looney’s dad and mom, and the way a lot it meant to them,” punter Rhys Byrns mentioned. “They’re lovely folks.”

Cajun gamers felt moved to go away Birmingham, the place the UL offensive line coach performed at Oak Mountain Excessive, with a win.

The victory pushed UL (4-1) from 12th to sixth amongst ‘others receiving votes’ in the new Amway Coaches Poll on Sunday. It additionally bumped the Cajuns, who had been No. 21 earlier than losing earlier this month to Coastal Carolina, from seventh to fourth amongst ‘others receiving votes’ within the AP High 25. 

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“It’s an honor to play for a man like Coach Looney. He was a giant a part of our group. He acquired us right here,” mentioned working again Chris Smith, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown late in Friday evening’s first half. “He helped us out – helped us out on particular groups, protection, it didn’t matter. He was supporting all people.”

‘Enjoying for Coach Looney’

The Cajuns’ postgame locker room was an emotional one after UL rallied from 10 factors down, Smith instructed.

“You already know we had been crying tears of pleasure,” he mentioned.

“He (Looney) could be proud that we saved on preventing. I feel all people was comfortable we represented him in one of the simplest ways attainable, and we simply took care of enterprise.”

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Looney, 31, died following a heart attack throughout an Aug. 1 group minicamp exercise at Cajun Discipline.

The previous Mississippi State offensive lineman, who additionally coached tight ends for the Bulldogs, was heading into his third season on coach Billy Napier’s UL staff.

Looney additionally was an assistant coach from 2014-15 at Central Arkansas, which visits the Cajuns in November.

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“Earlier than the sport, the massive factor was simply ‘Enjoying for Coach Looney,’ man,” mentioned security Bralen Trahan, whose last-minute interception sealed the victory.

“We simply wished to dedicate this entire recreation to him. It was a pleasant win together with his final title on our jerseys, and it was an excellent feeling we acquired the ‘dub’ for him.

“We simply felt like he was there with us,” Trahan added. “We miss him, and we love Coach, and the feelings had been excessive.”

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Pushing the punt

Byrns, whose 74-yard punt to the 6-yard line pinned UAB deep with 1:16 left, perceived Looney’s presence too.

“Coach Looney undoubtedly was on my thoughts,” he mentioned. “I feel he might have been pushing (the punt), up from the sky, to be trustworthy.

“I beloved coach Looney. He was probably the most real man I do know,” added Byrns, whose boot bounced 20 yards after touchdown. “So to see (his household) so comfortable throughout a time that’s so powerful was uplifting. It was superior to see. I used to be comfortable it made them so comfortable.”

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Napier thought of it a educating second for his Cajuns, who return to Solar Belt Convention play Saturday at Texas State (7 p.m., ESPNU).  

“I feel we performed for a goal greater than ourselves,” the UL coach mentioned. “The hassle, the eagerness, the power – we performed with no worry. I feel our gamers had been consumed with competing and looking for a manner to do that, to honor Coach Looney.

“I feel we are able to study quite a bit right here, by way of easy methods to play this recreation and likewise easy methods to stay life. I do know D.J. lived life that manner. He lived life for different folks.”

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