LAFAYETTE — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette football team is banking that later starts to the days of training camp will lead to a better beginning of the season.

“Last year, we had our guys up at 5:45 a.m. the whole camp,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “They were sprinting to breakfast, sprinting to get taped, sprinting to practice and sprinting to meetings. They were getting to bed pretty late. Now they are going to get to sleep in later in the mornings. We will practice in the evenings because it has been hot — some of the hottest days we have had in a while.”

The Cajuns will have deviations from that night schedule when they have two-a-day practice formats on four occasions.

The goal is to make sure that players do not miss practice time and season-opening preparation because of a fluid issue or a fatigue issue.

“We don’t want to lose one player to things that can be prevented,” Hudspeth said. “Some injuries aren’t preventable, and those things just happen. But we don’t want to lose somebody to cramps or needing an IV from practicing during a part of the day that is way too hot and having them lose too much body fluid.”

The change is also designed to get the players physically ready for home games that typically kick off at 6 p.m.

“We are really preparing our body clocks for our game time,” Hudspeth said. “If you practice at 6 a.m. .... you never get up and play the game at 6 a.m. We want our guys to have that body clock of all day preparing and then be ready to go to practice or go to the game and execute.”

A show of strength

One way the Cajuns will pay their respects to the victims of the July 23 shooting at the Grand Theatre and acknowledge the strength of the Lafayette community is by wearing a ‘Lafayette Strong’ square logo on the backs of their helmets.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this community because of the way this community has rallied in the last few weeks after the horrible tragedy that took place,” Hudspeth said. “The community support and what I see driving home every day with all the ‘Lafayette Strong’ signs out in the community is just unbelievable.”

Stephens on the mend

Defensive lineman Rodrick Stephens is working his way back from injury and has not been cleared for full-contact practice.

“They (the medical staff) are saying maybe two or three more weeks,” Hudspeth said. “He could be ready for the first game or maybe a little later.”