LAFAYETTE — It was a solid but imperfect first day of practice Thursday for the Louisiana-Lafayette football team.
“I thought our guys came out excited and ready to practice,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “We looked a little sloppy. We had some tipped balls. But the defense was in great position and got a couple of turnovers.
“Overall, a solid day. Hope to see a lot of improvement tomorrow.”
The Cajuns split the first day into two practices, with veterans and select sophomores and newcomers working in the morning, and walk-ons, freshmen and junior-college transfers working in the afternoon.
Hudspeth wasn’t expecting to see his veterans look sharp in the morning session because it’s still early, but he was hoping to see them operate efficiently.
“What I want to see is great tempo,” Hudspeth said. “You can control that all the time, and that’s your effort.”
Predictably, though, the execution was a little off at times.
The quarterbacks all had their share of struggles moving the ball in team drills during the portion of practice open to the media. Junior Brooks Haack took a slight majority of the snaps, and he and Jalen Nixon had an opportunity to lead a two-minute drill.
Neither led a scoring drive.
“It was all moving pretty fast for them out there today,” Hudspeth said. “I don’t think we looked particularly sharp at the quarterback position out there today, but it’s Day 1. There’s a lot of moving parts.
“Right now, before pads get on, before they have live people getting in their face, you hope they can execute cleanly now, because it’s not going to be any easier once we turn those big guys loose.”
Hudspeth was happy to see running back Elijah McGuire, wideout Jamal Robinson and a handful of defensive linemen back at practice after they missed some or all of spring drills with injury.
“We look like a football team out there right now,” Hudspeth said.
NEW LOOK, NEW DIGITS
The Cajuns wore new practice uniforms Thursday, and Hudspeth seemed to be a fan of them.
“Hey, how about those?” Hudspeth said. “I think our practice jerseys look better than the game jerseys.”
The uniforms worn by the defensive players had the most drastic shift in appearance. The main color is red, but the shoulders and sleeves are white with three vertical red stripes on the sleeves.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Davis was in his typical blue uniform — quarterbacks wear blue to signal that they’re off limits for contact — but his number was changed.
Davis switched from No. 3 to No. 10 out of necessity, in case he and senior running back Montrel Carter happen to be on the field at once. Davis will switch back to No. 3 next season.
EARNING THEIR STRIPES
Speaking of uniforms, the newcomers on the practice field could be identified by the black stripe running down the center of their helmets, instead of the white stripe worn by the veterans. It’s a practice Hudspeth is carrying over from last season.
“The guys with the black stripes have to earn their stripe off for camp,” Hudspeth said. “If they don’t get it off, it remains on for the rest of the season and they don’t get to travel or play. They have to get the black stripe off in order to officially be a part of the team.”