Louisiana-Lafayette went through its first fall workout as a full team Tuesday, going for 21/2 hours in a morning session after having separate workouts for veterans and newcomers on Monday’s opening day.
“Best second day of practice since we’ve been here,” coach Mark Hudspeth joked. “This is our fourth second day of practice, and it was the best. A lot of energy.”
By NCAA regulations, the Ragin’ Cajuns can only work out once daily for the first five days of fall camp, and the first three days must be non-contact. UL-Lafayette will have its first workout in pads Thursday and its first two-a-day session Saturday.
“We try to make sure we get the right amount of rest, right amount of preparation, right amount of weight room time, hydration, nutrition,” Hudspeth said. “It’s a constant struggle to have the right balance of everything.”
Even with a lengthy 24-period practice, the Cajuns appeared fresh throughout Tuesday’s workout and had a spirited final period of non-contact offense-against-defense.
Hudspeth said part of that freshness was the knowledge that the morning practice was the only one of the day.
“Two-a-days are somewhat a thing of the past,” he said. “We’ll have a couple of days of two-a-days, but that first practice won’t be as long as the normal practice, and the second practice will be even shorter. With good preparation, you can get it done without the two-a-days.
“Back in the old days, you’d just beat the crap out of everybody and get them all beat up and dehydrated and then bring in the next ones, but now everybody’s starting to realize you’re a lot better when you’re playing with your best players.”
Sophomore quarterback Brooks Haack, who started the 2013 regular-season finale after starter Terrance Broadway broke his arm, took every snap with the No. 2 unit Tuesday.
Hudspeth said the Katy, Texas, product is the unquestioned backup quarterback behind Broadway, the preseason Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
“I consider Brooks our solid backup,” he said. “He threw some nice balls today, he’s got confidence and he knows our offensive system. I feel confident in Brooks. ... He’s really grown.”
Hudspeth said one goal of fall drills is to establish a No. 3 quarterback. Carencro sophomore Jalen Nixon, who saw significant playing time in the New Orleans Bowl, was suspended in June for a violation of team rules and is expected to miss all of 2014. Nixon is on scholarship and is practicing; he has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
D’Shaie Landor, a product of Teurlings Catholic who was a redshirt freshman last season, transferred to Southeastern Louisiana.
Redshirt freshman Patrick Morton of John Curtis is listed third on the preseason depth chart, and three other QBs — freshman signees Jordan Davis of Spring, Texas; Dalvin Populist of Northshore; and walkon Matt Lipham — are listed on the fall roster. Lipham originally signed with Southern Illinois out of Salmen High in Slidell and played there one year before going to Northeast Mississippi Community College last year.
Instead of the team eating its three training-camp meals in an on-campus cafeteria, the Cajuns are being served breakfast, lunch and dinner in a huge air-conditioned tent between Cajun Field and the Moncla Indoor Facility — in the parking lot of the Moore Field baseball complex.
The menus are produced by Sodexo, which handles university dining services.
“Just like we asked our football team to step it up,” director of football operations Troy Wingerter said, “we asked Sodexo to step it up, and they have really done that. It’s what every one of these guys are talking about — how good the food is.”
Quick read: Three observations from Tuesday’s practice session
1. Coaches and players are already anxious for the mandated non-contact practices to end and to don pads for the first time Thursday. During team drills, several defenders were mimicking preparations for big hits in the secondary before pulling back and making hands-only contact.
2. Backup QB Brooks Haack looked much more steady and in control of the No. 2 offense than he did in his start in the 30-8 loss at South Alabama last season.
3. Sophomore receiver Devin Scott made a sterling catch-and-run between defenders at the end of the morning practice. The West Jefferson product is listed second at one wide receiver spot on the preseason depth chart.