Looking to rediscover what gave his team an edge in recent seasons, UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth noticeably ramped up the intensity at Wednesday’s practice.
It started immediately after the team finished its stretches. When players gathered at the center of the indoor practice field to kick off practice, Hudspeth re-introduced a staple of prior years with the team’s first “Cajun in the Ring” drill of the season.
The drill is not necessarily a tackling aid, but is more of a contact drill in which big hits are rewarded by cheers from teammates.
“In the past, we did it before every practice,” Hudspeth said. “But also, during that time, every once in a while you’d have an injury. This year, we kind of backed off on that because we didn’t want to risk losing someone.
“I think it’s a necessity now to keep that edge, that chip on our shoulder. To keep trying to develop toughness and challenging our guys. We’re going to get back to doing that an awful lot.”
It was just the beginning of what was an intense practice.
Hudspeth and the coaching staff were active and verbal with their players. Hudspeth was constantly and loudly prodding his players to get more physical during Wednesday’s practice.
Part of it is knowing his Cajuns are going to face one of their most daunting physical challenges of the year in Ole Miss this weekend. Another part of it was noticing something absent during the Cajuns loss to Louisiana Tech last weekend: Toughness.
“Any time you have a game like that, to me, it’s about getting back to the way we practice,” Hudspeth said. “And that’s with a lot of intensity, trying to be physical, doing the little things. We’ve tried to do that this week, practice really tough, because in the past we’ve been a tough team. We just didn’t look tough Saturday night.”
Senior wide receiver Jamal Robinson underwent more treatment on his injured left leg Tuesday, and Hudspeth remains hopeful that he’ll be ready to go when the Cajuns play Ole Miss this weekend.
“Jamal went back today to get another checkup,” Hudspeth said. “We’re still hopeful. He moved around about like we expected Day 1. We’ll see how he goes tomorrow, we’ll see how well he moves around and we’ll make a decision.”
Despite missing more than half of the Louisiana Tech game, Robinson has almost twice as many receiving yards (141) as his next closest teammate (Gabe Fuselier, 72).
ANSWER COMING SOON
The Cajuns should finally know the fate of junior college transfer linebacker Darzil Washington, who has been awaiting NCAA Clearinghouse issues throughout the fall.
“We’ll know by Friday if he’s in or out,” Hudspeth said.
Washington earned some second-team reps during fall camp at outside linebacker and had opened some eyes with his physical play.