Football Coaches and Teammates Commend Zeon Chriss: Big showdown with the team’s backs against the wall.
A rookie quarterback, fresh from a game-changing interception, faces his first conference road start against a formidable opponent. For Louisiana coach Michael Desormeaux, this is the ideal moment for Zeon Chriss as he leads the team to South Alabama at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Saturday (4 p.m., ESPN+).
“I always love when quarterbacks come back from a game where they didn’t perform as they wanted,” Desormeaux said. “I love it. That’s where you want them to be. I expect him to bounce back.”
Before the interception against Georgia State, securing their 20-17 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns last week, Chriss made crucial plays to position the offense for a potential victory. His performance demonstrated his growth and the team’s ability to overcome a slow start.
“Zeon’s different,” said UL senior running back Jacob Kibodi. “He’s mature for a freshman. I think he’ll bounce back well. After the interception, he lifted his head high, admitted fault in the locker room, and encouraged the team to move forward. We have utmost confidence in Zeon Chriss.”
The Cajuns (4-3, 1-2) and Chriss must continue this progress in a crucial Sun Belt Conference West division clash in Mobile, where the Jags (4-3, 2-1), possibly the hottest team in the league with 110 points in the last two games and a defense yielding only six points, await.
“He’s got a good look in his eye. He’s coachable,” Desormeaux said. “We can discuss what needs improvement. One thing I know about him is he’ll do better. The moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll play well and give us a chance on Saturday.”
Louisiana’s offense has thrived with Chriss at quarterback, improving red zone scoring and third-down efficiency since he took over for the injured starting signal caller Ben Wooldridge.
The freshman, along with the rest of the offensive players, faced a game against Georgia State where the rhythm was off. Desormeaux tasked Chriss with getting back to the basics.
“Just the fundamentals. The right drop every time, precise footwork, ensure your eyes are in the right spot and you’re progressing correctly. Go back to playing that way,” Desormeaux said. “He’s thrown the ball well this year since he’s been in there. We’ll need to throw the ball moving forward. He did some good things against Georgia State, and there are areas he can improve. We’ll need him to do better, and we can all help him, myself included.”
In the Cajuns’ most pressure-filled moment of the season—a loss at South Alabama would bury them in the Sun Belt West standings—the key for Chriss and the offense is for him to play his game.
“He just needs to be himself, play his game, and have fun doing it,” Desormeaux said. “That guy has a bright future. We’re not going to let one play, one game change how we feel about him.”