LAFAYETTE — For freshmen who have enjoyed success during the first two weeks, the new challenge at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette football facilities is to not let an open date close the door on that momentum.
Receiver Gary Haynes has eight catches for 38 yards against a Southeastern Conference foe in Kentucky and a Southland Conference opponent in Northwestern State. The next obstacle is a Saturday without the sights or sounds of a game and no single opponent to draw attention.
“Keeping the young kids focused, we talked about that,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “The goals this week are staying focused, having no distractions and staying on the task at hand. Some guys that are immature can be easily distracted when you are not playing a game.”
Senior offensive lineman Octravian Anderson has developed a plan over four years to help deal with that problem: Treat next Saturday as a normal game day.
“It’s just being focused day by day,” Anderson said. “Look at it like Saturday is a game, and then you get ready for Sunday and that prep.”
As far as the timing of having an open date relatively early in the third week, Anderson views that as neither a positive nor negative factor.
“As long as you are healthy and can give it your all, that is the main thing.”
The Cajuns enter their off week ranked 31st in the nation in fourth-down success. They converted 3-of-4 in those situations against Kentucky in the season opener. It is a scenario that Hudspeth said he sees playing out on a regular basis.
“We’re going to go for it a lot on fourth down ... that is my mindset coming into this year,” Hudspeth said. “We are going to push the envelope. Our goal is to stay on the field. When you have (receiver) Jamal Robinson on the outside, (running back) Elijah McGuire, (receiver) Al Riles and (receiver) Gabe Fuselier, I like those chances better than possibly punting the ball into the end zone and they get it at the 20 when we are at the 35.
“With the give and take this year, we feel pretty good about going for it more than normal because we have some weapons.”
Reed in recovery mode
Senior running back Effrem Reed, who missed the first two games because of a shin stress fracture, will likely miss the Sept. 26 game against Akron.
“The goal from the get-go was Louisiana Tech (on Oct. 3),” Hudspeth said. “He just had a hard time healing up because you are running on it every day. So we said, ‘Hey, let’s just bite the bullet, take a few weeks and get it healed.”