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The Daily Advertiser

How Louisiana football freshman QB Zeon Chriss is making the most of spring practice

By Cory Diaz, Lafayette Daily Advertiser,

2023-03-15
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Whether or not Louisiana football quarterback Zeon Chriss had gotten the meaningful snaps in a bowl game with the game’s result still very much up for grabs or not, his mindset entering his second spring wouldn’t be any different.

“My dad used to always preach, ‘never too high, never too low,’” Chriss said following the Ragin’ Cajuns' second spring football practice last week.

“I’m always going to stay the same level-headed no matter what it is. Whether I’m on the bench a long time or in the game starting, my mindset was always going to be the same.”

With junior quarterback Chandler Fields having missed the first week of spring drills and QB Ben Wooldridge still sidelined rehabbing from a late-season ACL surgery, that left only Chriss to take reps for UL.

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He was already positioned to enter this spring as a competitor for the quarterback race. His efforts in the loss to Houston in the Independence Bowl last December helped his serious inclusion in the competition. Last season, he passed for 109 yards, one TD and an interception.

Add in extended time with the first team and getting that experience, Cajuns coach Michael Desormeaux said the offensive staff’s expectation is Chriss being a main player who potentially starts at QB in 2023.

“For Zeon, it's invaluable the experience he's getting right now. He’s getting a lot of reps at an accelerated pace,” Desormeaux said after the team's fourth spring practice Tuesday. “When Chandler is back, then you’ll be able to get a good evaluation. Zeon played in three games last year. He played really well when he played, particularly in the bowl game. That was not an easy situation for a freshman to be thrown into. He played well enough for us to win in the end, we just didn’t make plays.

“Our expectations for him are really high and he’s the kind of kid that can handle it. There's no doubt that he can put himself in position to go out there and go be the guy."

Desormeaux has told Chriss to practice like he’s the starter ever since he got to campus last summer. The three-star standout quarterback possessed confidence coming out of Madison Prep, where he threw for more than 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior season.

After getting some quality playing time in his first season, Chriss said the transition for him wasn’t as exaggerated as many led him to think.

“When I got in, there’s really not that much of a difference. I feel like I was prepared for (when my number was called),” Chriss said. “Coach Des always asks me to prepare like I’m going to be the starter. That’s how I prepare each week. It builds a little confidence for me in seeing that Coach Des trusts me. He’s always saying ‘if I call your number, I feel confident in my going out there.’”

The rest of the Ragin’ Cajuns early this spring have rallied around the second-year freshman signal caller, who whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, is now entrenched in one of the more important position battles on the team.

To Chriss, starting is not what ultimately matters. Helping the team is top on his priority list; followed by improving his footwork, coverage reading on the field as well as increasing his film study and becoming a better leader off of it.

“You’re always trying to compete for the starting job. But I don’t want my mindset focused on the starting job. I want my mindset focused on being better every day, helping my team get better because the end goal is to win a Sun Belt championship,” Chriss said. “That’s my mindset right now, to help the team.”

Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at bdiaz@gannett.com.

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