Ragin’ Cajuns wrap up a hot, physically taxing preseason camp _lowres

Advocate file photo by LEE CELANO -- Mark Hudspeth

LAFAYETTE — Another year, another camp in the books — though this one was a doozy.

The Louisiana-Lafayette football team will hold a scrimmage Saturday afternoon for its last practice of preseason camp before beginning some Kentucky game-plan installation next week.

This year’s preseason has been difficult for coach Mark Hudspeth and his staff because of factors outside of their control.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever changed courses midstream,” Hudspeth said. “We had our itinerary all set to practice in the mornings, and then that heat wave started right as camp started.”

That left the coach with what he termed a “logistical nightmare,” moving practices from a 9:30 a.m. start time to a 5:30 p.m. start time in an effort to avoid the heat.

Last week, in particular, was a challenge, with the heat index regularly spiking into triple digits.

Hudspeth called it one of the hottest summers he can remember, and it had an effect on his team.

“Our guys that run a lot, like the receivers — I think it took a toll on them,” Hudspeth said. “Obviously we had some injuries, and I think a lot of that could be traced back to the heat, the loss of fluids, and the wear and tear on their bodies in that type of inclement weather.”

Originally, Hudspeth planned on making this year’s preseason practices more intense than last year, when he had an experienced team that he wanted to keep healthy at all costs.

That was the case early on, but injuries forced Hudspeth to alter course.

“We’ve got a talented team, but we have a young team, an inexperienced team,” Hudspeth said. “When you’re fixing to play young, inexperienced players, and they get hurt, your next in line is really young and inexperienced.

“You take (freshman kicker) Stevie Artigue and (freshman punter) Steven Coutts — (if) they go down, Major (Hudspeth) is kicking,” he said.

Hudspeth was clearly joking. His young son, Major, just went through his first season of peewee football.

“There’s just nobody there. That’s the issue. There’s nobody there,” Hudspeth said. “We’re just very inexperienced in some positions where we can’t afford injuries.”

Nixon held out

Jalen Nixon, one of two quarterbacks competing for the No. 1 job, was not with the rest of the team at Friday’s practice.

“I held Jalen out of practice today, just for an internal issue,” Hudspeth said. “He will be back at practice tomorrow.”

Hudspeth said Nixon’s absence will have no bearing on his upcoming decision on a starter.

“They’re both going to get reps with the ones,” Hudspeth said, referring to Nixon and Brooks Haack.

WR Jackson out for season

The Cajuns’ snakebitten preseason at the receiver position continued this week when true freshman Jarrod Jackson went down with a torn ACL.

“He is out for the year also,” Hudspeth said. We didn’t think it was torn, and then when we did the MRI it showed it was torn.”

Jackson was expected to battle with fellow freshmen Keenan Barnes, Michael Jacquet and Ja’Marcus Bradley for playing time as an outside receiver. Jackson has not yet had surgery on the torn ligament.

The Cajuns have now lost three receivers for the season, as Jared Johnson and Lance Pace are also sidelined. The Cajuns also lost tight end Matt Barnes this summer to a season-ending injury.

Hudspeth also said freshman linebacker Alonzo Brown tore his Achilles tendon during summer workouts.

First-game holdouts

They’re not season-ending injuries, but Hudspeth said Jacquet and fellow freshman Robert Hunt will not be ready for the season opener Sept. 5 against Kentucky.

The status isn’t as clear for sophomore defensive lineman Rodrick Stephens, who will practice for the first time with the team Tuesday.