Louisiana-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth called Saturday’s workout a “slobber-knocker.”
Senior linebacker Darzil Washington agreed.
“We had a lot of guys on our side flying around making good plays,” Washington said after the Ragin’ Cajuns’ two-hour, 22-period practice in full gear. “This is a tough time right now, going through this part of camp with the fatigue, taking the hits, the bumps and bruises and trying to stay focused. But today was a good day for that.”
The Cajuns went through their 12th practice of preseason camp, hitting the halfway point before camp breaks and the squad begins game-week preparation for the Sept. 5 opener at Kentucky.
“Today was what I call a ‘real’ practice,” Hudspeth said after the late-evening session. “Our kids came out and attacked it. It was a physical, slobber-knocker out there tonight. They challenged each other, competed awfully hard. We walked off the field a much better team.”
Hudspeth said that the workout was physical enough that several players had to leave drills with minor injuries.
“Nothing that’s going to be long-term,” he said. “A couple of guys did get knocked pretty good, had a couple of guys banged up and guys that took some big hits, and that was even in a controlled period. They were still playing really physical.”
Washington and the members of UL-Lafayette’s linebacker corps came in for noteworthy praise from Hudspeth after Saturday’s practice.
“Our linebackers are as good as anybody right now,” he said. “Darzil, Otha Peters, Dominique Tovell, those guys are playing very physical, and we’ve got some depth behind them with guys that will hit you. They’re going to be pretty strong.”
All three of the Cajuns’ quarterbacks involved in the battle for the starting spot — juniors Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon and redshirt freshman Jordan Davis — put the ball in the end zone during a practice-ending goal-line drill.
Haack had a pair of touchdown throws to senior Jamal Robinson and freshman Keenan Barnes, with Robinson’s a nice grab of a fade at the pylon.
“That was good to see,” Hudspeth said, “hopefully that will be something for him (Robinson) to build on because he’s been very inconsistent this week. Keenan Barnes continues to grow leaps and bounds every practice ... this guy’s going to help us this year.”
Nixon hooked up with freshman Chris Collins, a Dutchtown product who recently moved from defensive back, for a goal-line score and Davis had a rushing touchdown.
Hudspeth said that the quarterback race has “probably” been narrowed to two players, but declined to say which two. He said a definite decision will be made before Tuesday’s second full-scale scrimmage of preseason camp.
“Tuesday will be a big day,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to make a decision as a staff after Tuesday. I’d say it’s down to two, but the other is still competing and getting some reps with the ones. Two of them will get even reps Tuesday, and we’ll see after we grade the film. I want to give each quarterback the chance to do what he does best.”
The UL-Lafayette staff turned up the speaker volume during the goal-line portion of practice, blaring out the Kentucky fight song and crowd noise during the closing segments. Hudspeth said after practice that the noise did have an effect.
“I was a little concerned there,” he said. “You could tell that affected us a little bit. The coaches had to run up behind players and remind them of things, making sure they had it right. That lets me know that the mental part is not quite ready yet.
“When they know what to do and the coaches are behind them telling them exactly, we’re doing pretty good. When we have to decipher the code ourselves and then execute, that’s where we have work left to do.”
The Cajuns will practice in shells Sunday evening and then have their third two-a-day session on Monday before the Tuesday evening closed scrimmage ... Nickel linebacker T. J. Worthy sat out practice with a foot blister but is expected back in the next couple of days.