The Louisiana-Lafayette football coaching staff has been searching for the right mixture of personnel in the secondary all season, and it appears another arrangement will get a chance next week against Georgia State.
Coach Mark Hudspeth said he planned to use the extra time afforded by the Cajuns’ open date to consider making some personnel changes or tweaks to his scheme. While it’s not set in stone, it appears the Cajuns are on their way to making one change to their starting lineup — though it’s more of a reversal of last week’s big shakeup.
“In the back end, we’re still trying to figure out who our top four is going to be,” Hudspeth said. “Jevante Watson may get a little playing time back there. He made a great play late in the (Boise) game on a post. He’s been getting better each week. If he continues improving, we might put Trevence Patt back at safety.”
Patt started the first three games at strong safety but took Dominick Jones’ spot at cornerback last week against Boise State. Patt made a fairly seamless transition from safety to cornerback in 2013, but Hudspeth thought he looked uncomfortable against the Broncos, which he doesn’t fault Patt for.
“He got moved back (to cornerback) and didn’t get a chance to settle in,” Hudspeth said. “We’d like to move him back to safety, where he’s been playing since the spring. We’re still trying to finalize that.”
Watson, a junior from Bastrop, has never started in his collegiate career. He has exhibited flashes of big-play ability but hasn’t shown the coaches consistency that they need from their defensive backfield.
“(If) an inconsistent D-lineman doesn’t take his gap, they may get 4 or 5 yards,” Hudspeth said. “An inconsistent defensive back? They’re going to get six points.”
But Hudspeth said the 5-foot-10 Watson has been more consistent in practice lately. That has led to more time in games, where he also has been consistent.
“You hope that you’ve got somebody that can make some plays, break the ball up and create some momentum with a big third down pass breakup that ignites the team,” Hudspeth said.
Earlier in the week, Hudspeth said he was cautiously optimistic that senior receiver Jamal Robinson would be available for next week’s Sun Belt opener against Georgia State. On Thursday afternoon, he got some positive reinforcement.
Hudspeth was all smiles when he relayed that Robinson participated in pass drills with his teammates that afternoon.
“I thought he looked pretty dang good, and he’s got nine days to go,” Hudspeth said. “If today was any indication, I think he’ll definitely be ready. That’s exciting.”
Despite missing more than half of the Cajuns’ games this season, Robinson (141 yards) only trails sophomore running back Elijah McGuire (143 yards) in receiving yards.
With almost every assistant coach out on the recruiting trail, Hudspeth was joined by a different cast of characters at Thursday’s practice.
“Me, the coordinators and the graduate assistants ran practice today,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth remembers the days when he was able to fill assistant coaches’ shoes.
“I always looked forward to these few chances, because they don’t happen very often,” said Hudspeth, who spent time as a graduate assistant at Central Arkansas in the early 1990s. “You get a chance to be a full-time coach, run the meeting and coach the position at practice. Every coach in the country was a graduate assistant at one time.”