LAFAYETTE — Out of necessity, University of Louisiana at Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth toned down physicality in the name of preservation and injury prevention as the Cajuns continue their preparations for a Sept. 5 season opener against Kentucky.
The Cajuns’ last scrimmage, Saturday, went about 70 plays with no tackling.
“I don’t know if you can call that technically a scrimmage,” Hudspeth said. “We have had so many injuries with our second- and third-team guys, we couldn’t afford to go out there and bang around for a 120-play scrimmage this late in the game and risk losing one player.”
That injury list includes the season-ending setbacks for wide receivers Jarrod Jackson, Jared Johnson and Lance Pace. Keeping that list from growing became a priority for the Cajuns.
“We didn’t get to tackle as much as we would have liked during camp because of the injuries,” Hudspeth said. “I felt like early in camp, we did practice very tough and very physical. I’m a little concerned about our tackling — just for the fact that doing it in live situations, we have only had a limited number of those.”
On the offensive side, junior running back Elijah McGuire had limited live-drill work during fall camp.
“(McGuire) doesn’t have to prove to (the staff) that he can break a tackle and avoid being tackled,” Hudspeth said. “He can be a difference-maker for you. For us, it’s getting him to that game (healthy). I think he will be as fast as he’s ever been, and he will be more durable because of the weight he has added.”
Kickers make final push
Three kickers are putting in their final claims for the place-kicking duties. Freshman Stevie Artigue’s efforts in scrimmage situations have given him a boost.
“Stevie has a little bit of an edge because of the way he has performed in the scrimmages,” Hudspeth said. “Two kicks ... one from 50 yards and one from 54 in game situations have given him that edge at this point. Although Carlos (Alvarez) has been mighty consistent.”
Freshman Dylan Scheurich will be returning to action Tuesday after he had to recover from a hip flexor pull.
Hudspeth’s hope is that group can help the Cajuns win some field position battles.
“Both those guys are kicking off deep into the end zone,” Hudspeth said. “Hopefully, that can continue to be a weapon for us.”
Repeat guest on Rome
Hudspeth made his second appearance on The Jim Rome Show on Monday. Hudspeth discussed a handful of topics with the nationally syndicated sports radio talk show host.
It marked the second time Hudspeth and Rome chatted. Hudspeth’s initial appearance on the show was in July 2014.
“Hopefully, it’s another sign that people are becoming familiar with the Ragin’ Cajun brand,” Hudspeth said. “With the number of times we have played on national TV in the last three years — especially with all the televised games on Tuesday and Thursday nights and the bowl games — that exposure has really paid off. We wouldn’t be where we are at exposurewise if we hadn’t played all those games.”