Most of the UL-Lafayette starting defense is set as fall camp closes on the end of the first week, but there are still a couple high-profile spots left to be decided at linebacker.
There is a four-way race for the starting spots at the Mike (middle) and Will (weakside) positions, with junior Chris Hill and sophomore Trey Granier fighting for the Will spot and sophomore Kevin Fouquier battling with senior Trae Johnson for the Mike position.
“Inside linebacker positions I feel are up in the air,” Ragin’ Cajuns’coach Mark Hudspeth said. “I think Chris Hill may have one, but he’s got to stay healthy. He missed half a practice today and will be back tomorrow, but we’ve got to have some continuity there.”
Hill played in all but one game as a sophomore in 2013, making four starts and 39 tackles. But Hudspeth said earlier this week is looking for more out of him before he feels comfortable locking Hill into the starting lineup.
“Granier right now is a little more dependable in off-the-field things,” Hudspeth said. “That’s the thing Chris needs to improve on, just being more dependable. Because to me, if you’re not dependable off the field, it’s hard to be dependable on the field.
“But he’s getting better. Hopefully we can continue with some good competition there.”
Granier transferred to UL-Lafayette after redshirting in his lone season at LSU. The last time he saw a field in live game action was when he starred at Thibodaux High School.
Johnson and Fouquier have been sharing reps at the Mike spot with the first-team defense. Johnson has a huge edge in experience, but Hudspeth has had good things to say about the 6-foot-4 Fouquier, who mostly saw the field on special teams last season.
One name to watch out for is true freshman T.J. Posey, who Hudspeth has been high on since camp started.
“He’s a freshman and he’s having to process all this then react and run to the ball instead of just instinctively letting it happen,” Hudspeth said. “That’ll come with playing time and experience and maturity, but he’s got the physical skills to do it.”
One week of camp is almost in the books, and Hudspeth singled out a few players who have surprised him with their play — in a good way.
“One that comes to mind is Tracey Walker,” Hudspeth said. “I expect him to play. I expect him to play a lot.”
Walker is a 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman safety from Brunswick, Georgia. Hudspeth likes him as part of a deep Cajuns’ secondary, and Hudspeth said he could plug in at safety while either Trevence Pratt or Sean Thomas drop down to corner if necessary.
Hudspeth also mentioned Fouquier offensive linemen Donovan Williams and Eddie Gordon as players who have shown him something through the first week of camp.
No big hits — yet
The team practiced in full pads for the first time Friday, but that didn’t necessarily equate to full contact.
“We’re still in what we call controlled tempo, so we’re not tackling to the ground,” Hudspeth said. “But the intensity picked up a little early. You could tell the heat set in a little bit late.”
The first full contact practice will be Saturday night’s scrimmage.
Five observations of note from Friday’s practice:
1. Sophomore Dominick Jones appears to have locked up the starting corner job opposite Corey Trim. Jones has spent every day of camp with the first unit so far, and Hudspeth said he’s pulled ahead in his battle with junior college transfer Antoinne Adkins.
2. After a couple days where the defense beat up the offense in practice, it looked like the offense turned the tables in Friday’s practice. There were a handful of big plays that have been absent so far.
3. Quarterback Terrance Broadway was particularly sharp in the team portion of practice open to the media. He completed four of the five passes in the period, his only incompletion directed toward the feet of a defensive linemen on a screen pass that the defense sniffed out.