Most coaches will tell you play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.
But on Friday night against UAB, it was clear the Cajuns were playing for Louisiana and Looney.
Every jersey had the name “Looney” on the back in honor of late assistant coach D.J. Looney, who passed away in August after a team workout.
“Thought it was an unbelievable gesture by the players for all of them to wear Coach Looney’s last name on the back of their jerseys,” UL football head coach Billy Napier says. “I think we learned something tonight. I think we played for a purpose bigger than ourselves.”
Junior safety Bralen Trahan sealed the win with an interception in the last few seconds. He says before the game, the team made it clear Friday night was dedicated to Coach Looney.
“It just felt like he was there with us,” Trahan says. “We miss him. We love Coach. The emotion was high tonight.”
Sophomore running back Chris Smith returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score and says it was an honor to play in rememberance of Coach Looney.
“To go out there and have his last name on our back and represent him in the win, the locker room was full of emotion,” Smith says. “We were crying tears of joy because we know we made him proud.”
Looney’s family was at Legion Field to witness the win. Junior punter Rhys Byrns, who booted a career-long 74-yard punt, says it was humbling to put a smile on the faces of Coach Looney’s loved ones.
“To see Coach Looney’s parents and how much it meant to them, they’re beautiful people,” Byrns says. “I loved Coach Looney. He was the most genuine guy. To see them so happy during a time so tough was really uplifting. It was really awesome to see.”