UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth admitted his team is banged up and without a lot of would-be starters as the Ragin’ Cajuns prepare for their first scrimmage at Cajun Field on Saturday.
Hudspeth called Saturday’s scrimmage the “first dress rehearsal” and said anytime the Cajuns play in Cajun Field, he expects relentless effort. The early-spring injury bug is also giving the coaching staff a chance to evaluate guys who might not normally get meaningful practice reps.
“We have had some injuries because of not practicing like a big time program,” Hudspeth said. “Everyone was competitive (Thursday) and a lot of the younger kids that are getting repetitions are starting to turn the corner.”
Hudspeth said the injuries on the defense have allowed freshmen — like defensive back Kamar Greenhouse — to see the field and begin developing.
“Kamar is a guy who has been playing really well,” Hudspeth said. “We’ve got quite a few players out with postseason injuries and they’re going through rehab right now and surgeries. We are thin, but these kids are fighting through and it’s developing depth, which is something that we may not be able to develop if we had everybody out here.”
Hudspeth said spring practices have gone well, but he is ready to see the players in live action, which they’ll get to Saturday.
“Our guys will be ready to play,” he said. “A lot of guys are going to get opportunities. I’ll be anxious to see how they play and how they perform without a coach in their ear when we turn them lose. We’ll really find out what they can do.”
Hudspeth was reluctant to admit Brooks Haack was separating himself as the starting quarterback to open the season. He said Haack is throwing the ball well, but the competition is still intense.
“Brooks is managing the game really well,” Hudspeth said. “I would say right now he is slightly ahead, but those other guys are still competing. We haven’t turned them lose yet in a live setting. They’re going to get that on Saturday and I want to see how they can manage the game and how they can move the sticks.”
Hudspeth said the competition between Haack, Jalen Nixon and Jordan Davis is still contested and winning that competition is important to all three.
“Our team has confidence in all three of those guys,” Hudspeth said. “I like their work ethic and I like their attitudes. I hope they continue competing and getting better.”
With injuries allowing more young players a chance to shine, Hudspeth said he has been impressed with a few who have made good strides, especially in the offensive line.
“The freshmen offensive linemen are starting to show that they may be ready by season,” Hudspeth said. “(Eddie Gordon) had a really good day (at center). His feet are good and his snaps have been really good. If he can continue with his progression, he has a chance to be a really good player.”
Hudspeth said the defensive coaches have done a good job of holding the young defensive players accountable and they’re picking up the new system quickly. He said not only is Greenhouse playing well, but LaDarrius Kidd is also having a great spring.
“They are coming together well and learning our new system,” Hudspeth said. “I like Ladarius Kidd. He is doing a great job. A lot of the freshmen that are already here are starting to show us some things that we can build on.”