LAFAYETTE — Time is not on Louisiana-Lafayette’s side this week.
The football team returned from its trip to Atlanta (and a 23-21 win over Georgia State) late Saturday night, and the staff was up early Sunday putting a game plan together as fast as possible with a short week ahead.
“First thing, sun’s up and we were here,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “We had to make up some time. Normally on Sunday mornings, we take our families to church, then meet up here right after. But we had to make up some time for what we normally do get.”
The Cajuns had just four days to prepare for South Alabama before they hit the road again for a prime-time game against the Jaguars on Thursday night. The short turnaround has presented the Cajuns staff with numerous challenges.
The Cajuns will get only three practices this week, with Tuesday being its last practice day before Thursday’s game. While that’s only one fewer practice than they’re normally afforded, that doesn’t include a day in which coaches would have time to formulate their plan while the players have a day off.
The challenge is not only finding the time to get a winning game plan organized, but also installed.
“One is making sure you’ve got everything in,” Hudspeth said. “The key when you’re playing a short week is being careful how much you install game plan-wise. If you’re putting a lot of new wrinkles in and you don’t have enough time to prepare for all those, sometimes it can backfire on you.
“You’ve got to be careful in that aspect; how much new game plan stuff can your kids absorb? ... Sometimes in short weeks, less is better.”
That time crunch in preparation also falls on the players.
“We don’t have enough time this week,” junior receiver Al Riles said. “Hopefully a lot of guys are watching film, not only when they come up here but on their free time as well.”
In addition to the limited time, the Cajuns must also get their bodies ready on short notice.
Normally, the players have Mondays off to recuperate and get their school work lined up for the week. This Monday, the Cajuns were on the practice field, meaning the only off day they’ll have between the Georgia State and South Alabama games is Wednesday, when they’ll be traveling to Mobile.
The Cajuns tried last week to prepare for this by trimming practice and workout times to save the players’ legs.
“We definitely need to take care of our body a lot more and be smarter this week, because we don’t have enough down time,” Riles said. “Hopefully a lot of us will be a lot smarter going in after practice, coming in early in the morning, staying off our feet and getting more rest at night.”
South Alabama, while on the same hectic schedule, has a decided advantage of playing at home, while the Cajuns will have played both of their games in a short week on the road.
But after spending his Sunday cramming in a couple of days’ worth of work, Hudspeth likes where his team stands.
“It’s been a grind, but we’re on schedule,” he said. “I like where we’re at schedule-wise as far as our coaches with game plans.”